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Ph.D. in Political Science and International Affairs

The Department of Political Science and the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) jointly offer a Ph.D. program in Political Science and International Affairs. The program builds on the considerable strengths that each unit currently possesses and offers a distinct focus from the Ph.D. degree granted by the Department of Political Science.

Students wishing to apply should contact IR/PS and submit their applications there. Applications will be approved by a Admissions Committee and the Department's Admissions Committee. It is anticipated that one or two students per year will enter the program in its initial years, perhaps rising to three or more in future years, contingent upon availability of funding.


All students pursuing this interdisciplinary degree will be required to take a common core consisting of four courses. This core builds on the existing core program of the Department of Political Science in the fields of International Relations and Comparative Politics, as well as the existing Ph.D. seminar on Comparative Public Policy offered by IR/PS. All students must also take one course in Research Design (and will be strongly encouraged to take additional methods courses, such as Game Theory or Statistical Methods, as part of their electives).

Students must declare an emphasis in either International Policy Analysis (IPA) or Comparative Policy Analysis (CPA), and a regional focus. The field of emphasis consists of three additional courses, plus a three-quarter Workshop (**see Attachment A).

The regional focus consists of IR of Asia Pacific or IR of the Americas, three additional courses in the student's primary region, and one course in another region offered by either IR/PS or the Department. By petition, students may count a region other than one of the IR/PS offerings (currently China, East Asia, Japan, Latin America, or Southeast Asia) as their primary region. (Students electing this option, by petition, may also take another regional IR course or equivalent in place of IR of Asia Pacific or IR of the Americas.)

Students will also take three specialized electives. These may be drawn from a pool of courses according to a given student's special interests, and selected in consultation with the student's advisor. Eligible courses include, but are not restricted to, additional courses in: methods (such as Statistics or Game Theory), region, public policy, or any of the fields offered by IR/PS or the Department.

All students must take a minimum of twenty-one courses, nine of which must be taken in the first two years from PS 201-279 or IP/GEN 200-290.


Each student must pass a General Examination, which consist of written examinations in the fields of international relations and comparative politics, a focus field, and an oral examination. The General Examination will follow the same requirements and schedule currently required of students in the Ph.D. program in Political Science and will be graded by an interdisciplinary committee consisting of three permanent faculty members, with at least one from Political Science and at least one from IR/PS.

The focus field may be either a substantive field or a region. Regional focus fields include the current approved regions of the Ph.D. in International Affairs (the Pacific as a whole, a subregion, or individual countries), as well as additional regions (Europe, North America, etc.) that may be approved by the committee governing the program. Regardless of focus field, that part of the exam shall test the student's knowledge of theoretical literature and ability to apply it to a policy issue.<

Seminar Papers

Each student must submit one seminar paper, which may be written as part of the requirements for a regular course or in an independent research course. The paper must demonstrate knowledge of the student's regional focus, as well as knowledge of relevant theory in the field. It should also demonstrate knowledge of a substantive policy area (e.g. trade, environment, international finance), related to the student's primary focus field. Certification that the paper fulfills the requirement for a seminar paper is at the sole discretion of the faculty member supervising the work. The paper must have been accepted as a Seminar Paper before the student may take the written portion of the General Examination.

Language Requirement

Before being advanced to candidacy, each student in the program must meet a sufficiently high standard of foreign-language proficiency to carry out research in the student's region. Proficiency must be verified by an examination to be administered either by the IR/PS Language Department or by an approved outside examiner. The examination may be waived by petition for native speakers.

Defense of prospectus formation of dissertation committee, and defense of dissertation

In order to advance to candidacy, a student must prepare a dissertation prospectus and pass an oral examination. The committee overseeing the completion of the dissertation shall consist of four faculty members chosen from the Department and IR/PS, with at least one from each unit. A fifth member must be from outside the Department and IR/PS. The dissertation must be approved by the dissertation committee and publicly defended before the Ph.D. degree is awarded.

Transfer From One Program to Another

Students may transfer from the Ph.D. degree program in Political Science to the interdisciplinary degree, or vice versa, only by petition. Such petition shall be subject to the approval of a committee authorized for such purpose by the unit into which the student is seeking entry.


One fellowship per year will be available to a newly admitted student from the current in-house funding at IR/PS. Additional fellowship support will be sought by IR/PS faculty. Students in the interdisciplinary degree program will be eligible for TA-ships in the Department of Political Science only after students in the Department seeking and eligible for such posts have been accommodated.

Our Ph.D. program in Political Science is designed to break down barriers and build bridges across the subfields and give all of our students a broad command of the discipline as a whole, regardless of their area of specialization.

Contact Us

Director of Graduate Studies
Zoltan Hajnal
(858) 822-5015
SSB 395

Graduate Coordinator
Arturo Vazquez
(858) 534-2705
SSB 305 (302)