Political Science, PhD—Advanced Entry

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 all four 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 prior course work but must complete a minimum of 30 semester hours. Students entering with a Northeastern MA in Political Science must complete a minimum of 18 semester hours while also satisfying all PhD course requirements. Students entering with a Northeastern MPA degree must complete a minimum of 6 semester hours while also satisfying all PhD course requirements. Students currently in the MA or MPA program and accepted into the PhD before completing the MA or MPA must complete 48 semester hours.

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 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 unless otherwise indicated.


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

Major Requirements

Inquiry and Design
POLS 7200Perspectives on Social Science Inquiry3
POLS 7201Research Design3
Quantitative Techniques
Advanced methods courses from other disciplines may be chosen in consultation with your faculty advisor.
POLS 7202Quantitative Techniques3
POLS 7215Advanced Quantitative Techniques3
or LPSC 7215 Advanced Quantitative Techniques
POLS 7204Seminar in Public Policy3
POLS 7205Seminar in American Government and Politics3
POLS 7206Seminar in Comparative Politics3
POLS 7207Seminar in International Relations3


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

Specific Elective
POLS 8982Readings1-4
General Electives
Complete 0–12 semester hours from the following:0-12

Exam and Dissertation

Exam Preparation
POLS 8960Exam Preparation—Doctoral0
Complete the following (repeatable) course twice:
POLS 9990Dissertation0
POLS 9996Dissertation Continuation (Taken until completion of program, after 1 year of POLS 9990)0

Program Credit/GPA Requirements

6–30 total semester hours required
Minimum 3.500 GPA required