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Maxwell School
Maxwell / Department of Political Science

Graduate Study

The Department of Political Science offers a PhD program and an MA program, joint JD/MA and JD/PhD programs with the Syracuse College of Law, and a joint MAIR/PhD program with the Maxwell School’s Department of Public Administration and International Affairs.

The doctoral program is designed for students interested in pursuing careers as professors of political science, as well as those interested in a variety of professional careers in government service and the private sector.  Admission requires only a B.A. (or its equivalent), but many of our doctoral students arrive with M.A. degrees from other institutions. Once admitted, all doctoral students choose two principal fields of study, from the following options: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, Public Administration & Policy, Security Studies, and Law & Courts.  In addition, doctoral students are eligible to complete Graduate Certificate programs in Civil Society Organizations, Conflict Resolution, the European Union and Contemporary Europe, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Middle Eastern Affairs, Security Studies, South Asian Studies, and a number of other substantive topics.

In addition, all doctoral students receive training in both quantitative and qualitative methods of social scientific research, with particular sequences of methods courses designed to meet the research needs of individual students. For example, some students take multiple semesters of statistics and one semester of qualitative methods, while other students do the reverse. Where foreign language competency is necessary to an individual student’s research agenda, the Director of Graduate Studies will arrange for language study to displace some of the required methods courses. To supplement our in-house methodological training, we fund several students each summer to attend both the Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, hosted by the Consortium on Qualitative Research Methods here at Syracuse, and the ICPSR Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research, hosted by the University of Michigan.

Our doctoral program typically enrolls 8-12 new students each Fall, and all entering students are funded with either teaching or research assistantships. These positions cover the full cost of tuition and carry an academic year stipend. Most of our doctoral students receive summer funding during at least two of their years on campus as well.

Our department’s location within the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs provides a rich interdisciplinary context for our Ph.D. program. In addition to a full array of political science courses, our faculty teach in the following departments and programs across campus: African American Studies, Environment and Society, International Relations, Jewish Studies, College of Law, LGBT Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Philosophy, Public Administration, and South Asian Studies. In addition, many of our doctoral students are affiliated with one or more of the Maxwell School’s interdisciplinary programs and institutes, including the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, the Campbell Public Affairs Institute, the Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media, the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, the Center for Environmental Policy and Administration, the Center for Policy Research, the Center for Technology and Information Policy, the Center for European Studies, the Moynihan European Union Center, the South Asia Center, the Program on Latin America and the Caribbean, the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration, and the Sawyer Law and Politics Program. In some cases, these institutes provide direct funding to graduate students beyond what is available through the department; in others, they provide a venue for graduate students to present their work, a source of competitive grant opportunities, an array of interdisciplinary course offerings, and a full schedule of research presentations by scholarly visitors to the Maxwell School.

The M.A. program is designed to provide additional training to students who are interested in pursuing doctoral study in political science, but not yet prepared to apply to Ph.D. programs, and also to meet the needs of students who desire additional professional training before pursuing careers in public policy, law, or journalism. M.A. students are not bound by specific field requirements, but they generally specialize in one of the substantive fields noted above. Like doctoral students, they are also eligible to pursue Graduate Certificate programs in a number of regional or substantive areas of study.

Students interested in the joint JD/PhD, JD/MA, or MAIR/PhD programs should apply simultaneously to each relevant individual program, indicating in their applications the joint degree program that they would like to pursue. Alternatively, students who are already enrolled in the Maxwell School’s MAIR program or the College of Law’s JD program may contact the Political Science Department directly to inquire about pursuing one of our joint degree programs.