Students in the Ph.D. program are required to take three semesters of full-time work, but there are no specific requirements for the relevant coursework. Instead, appropriate coursework is to be determined by the student with input from her or his advisor. Students are strongly advised to take POLS 600 and 601 upon entry into the program and are further urged to take three of the core courses (POLS 610, 620, 630, 640, 650, 660, 670, and 680) if they have not taken these or their equivalents at the master's level.
After an agreed upon amount of coursework, the student seeks a faculty member to serve as the dissertation committee chair and prepares a dissertation proposal. Each student must also construct a committee that includes at least three members of the department and one external member. While the order in which they occur may vary, each student must write and defend a dissertation proposal and take and pass comprehensive examinations. The dissertation chair will establish a work plan for the proposal defense and comprehensive exams.
The student's committee designs a comprehensive examination based upon the dissertation proposal and the general fields within which the dissertation will be situated. Committee members will provide two questions for the student, the committee chair will collect these questions and on the agreed upon date, the student will be given the questions. Each student will have a full week to write answers and return the questions to the committee. Each member of the committee will read all the answers but only indicate if the student passes their specific question. With successful completion of the comprehensive examination, the student is advanced to candidacy and proceeds to the writing of the dissertation.
Upon completion of the dissertation, the student must convene their committee for a public oral defense. This defense generally will include a presentation by the student regarding their work. This presentation should be modeled after a conference presentation or job talk and should present the work not only to the committee, but to the public audience who has come to view the defense. The defense will also include an opportunity for members of the committee as well as the audience to ask questions of the candidate. Once the candidate has presented and the question and answer period is over, the committee will meet privately to determine the results of the defense.
After the defense, the committee may request final revisions prior to the document being formally submitted to graduate division. It is advisable to leave sufficient time for these revisions between the defense of the dissertation and the end of the semester. The program is only completed when the student successfully completes a public oral defense of the dissertation, the dissertation is accepted by the student's doctoral committee, and the dissertation is submitted and accepted by the Graduate Division of the University.
Ph.D. Timeline & Checklist