Political Science, PhD—Advanced Entry

Mai'a K. Davis Cross, PhD
Graduate Program Director

Rosy Trovato, Graduate Program Administrator, 617.373.4404, r.trovato@northeastern.edu

CSSH Graduate Programs General Regulations

The Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science is grounded in the core fields of the discipline—American government and politics, comparative politics, international relations, and public policy. Students identify a primary and secondary field as areas of emphasis. The curriculum introduces students to these fields and also seeks to develop their research skills through a series of methods courses. Students may develop a traditional, academic focus in one of the fields, or they may combine it with public policy to highlight a policy orientation. The program is designed to prepare students to be academic scholars and teachers as well as practitioners in research and public service. The PhD degree requires completion of required courses, passing a written and oral comprehensive examination, and the successful defense of the dissertation before a faculty committee.

Credit Requirements and Advanced Standing

Students entering with a master’s degree from outside Northeastern may receive advanced standing for relevant prior course work but must complete a minimum of 32 semester hours. Students entering with a Northeastern MA in political science must complete a minimum of 24 semester hours while also satisfying all PhD course requirements. Master's-level course work that results in advanced standing is evaluated by the graduate program director to determine its applicability to the PhD curriculum. 

Doctoral Degree Candidacy

Doctoral degree candidacy is attained after successful completion of all course work and passing written and oral comprehensive examinations.

Academic Standing/Progress

All doctoral students must maintain an overall cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 3.500 while making progress toward the degree requirements. Students who fall below any applicable standard for two consecutive semesters are subject to dismissal from the graduate program. Additionally, receipt of financial support administered by the department, college, or university is contingent on satisfactory academic progress toward the degree and specific guidelines as published in the terms of award. Students who have ungraded courses or courses graded as incomplete risk no longer being eligible for financial aid awards.

Language Proficiency

For students who conduct research in a language other than English, he or she must demonstrate proficiency as necessary for completion of the dissertation. Language courses do not count as electives.

Complete all courses and requirements listed below.


Comprehensive examination
Annual review
Language (as determined by committee)
PhD candidacy
Dissertation proposal
Dissertation committee
Dissertation defense

Core Requirements

Consult the graduate program director regarding which major-required courses apply to your individual plan of study.

Complete 4–12 semester hours from the following:4-12
Seminar in Public Policy
Seminar in American Government and Politics
Seminar in Comparative Politics
Seminar in International Relations
Inquiry and Design
POLS 7201Research Design4
Quantitative Techniques
POLS 7202Quantitative Techniques4
LPSC 7215Advanced Quantitative Techniques4
Advanced methods courses from other disciplines may be chosen in consultation with your faculty advisor.


Courses from other disciplines may be chosen in consultation with your faculty advisor.

Complete 8–20 semester hours in the following:8-20
POLS 7200 to POLS 7978


Exam Preparation
Exam Preparation—Doctoral (Only required for PhD students who have completed coursework but have yet to complete the comprehensive exam.)
Complete the following (repeatable) course twice:
Dissertation Continuation
Following completion of two semesters of POLS 9990, registration in the following class is required in each semester (excluding summers) until the dissertation is completed:
Dissertation Continuation

Program Credit/GPA Requirements

24–44 total semester hours required
Minimum 3.500 GPA required