Doctor of Arts in Political Science

Admission Requirements

For full admission to the Doctor of Arts (D.A.) program, the applicant should have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for the last two years of undergraduate study and/or a 3.5 GPA in all previous graduate study. To apply, the candidate must submit:

1. The application form

2. Three letters of recommendation

3. A statement of personal goals

Thus, admission is based on GPA, the quality of letters of recommendation and the quality of the applicant’s goal statement. 


An applicant entering with a B.A. or B.S. degree must fulfill a minimum of 79 credit hours to complete the D.A. degree. These 79 credits hours include the following:

Choose 3 from the following:9
Seminar Political Theory
Seminar State and Local Politics
Seminar American Politics Behavior
Seminar American Politics Institutions
Seminar World Politics
Seminar Public Administration and Public Policy
Pedagogy 9
Seminar in College Teaching
Team Teaching
Solo Teaching
Political Research Methods
Political Research Methods Lab
Interdisciplinary Seminars 6
Seminar Philosophy of Social Science
Seminar Interdisciplinary Topics in Social Science
Additional classes to complete the 79 credits which can include an option of 18 credits of Interdisciplinary, Out-of-Department classes (in Sociology, History, Anthropology and/or Psychology)45-48
Total Credits:79

Candidates entering the D.A. program with Master’s degrees must complete a minimum of 49 credit hours, with a maximum of six hours of dissertation credit. The total number of credit hours for a student with a Master’s degree may vary due to the student’s academic preparation.

Students already teaching in higher education are given other options for POLS 7702 and POLS 7703 (in consultation with their adviser). 

Interdisciplinary Option

Students have an option to take 18 credits of Interdisciplinary, out-of-department classes in Sociology, History, Anthropology and/or Psychology. Students who chose this option should consult with their adviser on these courses, and to ensure that they are adequately preparing for comprehensive examinations in three POLS subfields. Students should decide on what option they want to pursue in their first semester in the program so they will receive appropriate advising. 

  • Option #1: Two Interdisciplinary Areas - D.A. students choosing the interdisciplinary option will take 9 credits each in TWO of the following cooperating social science departments: Anthropology, History, Psychology, and Sociology.
  • Option #2: One interdisciplinary Area - D.A. students choosing the interdisciplinary option will take 18 credits in ONE of the following cooperating social science departments: Anthropology, History, Psychology, and Sociology.
  • Option #3: Interdisciplinary Theme - D.A. students choosing the interdisciplinary option will take 18 credits from at least two of the cooperating social science departments: Anthropology, History, Psychology, and Sociology, built around an interdisciplinary theme such as Environmental Politics or Theory (courses and theme must be pre-approved by the chair of the student’s D.A. committee).

D.A. students not choosing the interdisciplinary option will take courses only in Political Science. Students must work with their adviser and subfield faculty to ensure they are taking coursework that prepares them to take comprehensive examinations in three subfields of Political Science.

Comprehensive Exams

Comprehensive written examinations are administered after all coursework is completed and before the dissertation prospectus is defended. Doctoral students are examined in three subfields of political science, one of which must be American politics. Students choose the additional two subfields from:

  • Public Law
  • Political Theory
  • Comparative/International Politics
  • Public Administration


Doctor of Arts students write a doctoral dissertation that may deal with either substantive disciplinary issues or pedagogical innovations or techniques. This process includes the writing and presentation of a dissertation prospectus, followed by the completion and defense of the dissertation.

  • Prospectus: After the successful completion of written comprehensive examinations, the D.A. student is required to present and defend a dissertation prospectus to the doctoral committee.
  • Dissertation: When the candidate’s committee determines that the dissertation is ready for a defense, there will be a public presentation by the student followed by a closed and balloted defense of the dissertation with the candidate and the committee.