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Ph.D. Program Requirements

Major Fields

(See diagram of the Ph.D. curriculum)

  • American Politics and Policy
  • Transnational and Comparative Politics and Policy
  • Policy Analysis and Administration

To complete the degree students must take 45 credit hours of course work along with the research hours needed to complete the dissertation. Coursework is divided into core courses, major fields of specialization, minor areas, and a research design.

Core Courses

The Kent State University Ph.D. is fundamentally a research degree that centers on public policy. Understanding scientific inquiry and correctly using research techniques require extensive preparation. Students in the program take four courses designed to help them comprehend the tools of social science research and develop a basic understanding of public policy. The core courses include:

POL 6/70002 Approaches to Public Policy (3)
POL 6/70003 Policy Methods I (3)
POL 6/70004 Policy Methods II (3)
POL 6/70006 Foundations of Public Policy (3)

Students should plan to take all four of these courses in their first year.

Areas of Specialization

As they complete the core courses, students begin to develop a major specialization in two areas. Students fulfill the specialization requirements by taking two proseminars selected from the following:

POL 6/70101 Seminar in American Politics and Policy (3)
POL 6/70301 Seminar in Policy Analysis and Administration (3)
POL 6/70501 Seminar in Transnational and Comp. Politics and Policy (3)

In addition, students take an additional three electives in their 1st major field, two electives in their 2nd major field, and one additional proseminar. Please see the course descriptions for more information.


All students must also develop a minor field by taking two graduate level courses outside their major fields. The requirement gives students additional flexibility to tailor their course of study to their particular theoretical or substantive interests. Students may fulfill the minor requirement by taking courses outside the Political Science Department.

Research Tool

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Ph.D., each student must demonstrate the acquisition of research skills commensurate with the expectations of the professional, academic community. The decision as to what tool is appropriate is a joint decision of the student and his/her Ph.D. Advisory Committee. The research tool may consist in mastery of a foreign language or in a graduate level course in any discipline (including qualitative methods, quantitative methods, or other methodological skills) pertaining to the student's dissertation research.

Teaching Program

In order to assist in the training of good college and university teachers, the department offers a voluntary, but strongly recommended, program in college teaching. In this program, students take a one-credit course, POL 71094, College Teaching in Political Science. Students are then paired with faculty to serve one semester as a teaching assistant and one semester as a team teacher. Upon the successful completion of these requirements, students serve as teaching fellows and teach their own courses.

Time Line for Full-time Ph.D. Students

  • Year 1 In Fall Semester, students take an elective and two common core courses: POL 6/70006 Foundations of Public Policy and POL 6/70003 Policy Methods I. In Spring Semester students take an elective and two additional core courses, POL 6/70004 Policy Methods II and POL 6/70002 Approaches to Public Policy. The selection of electives is done in consultation with an advisor and two additional faculty that comprise the student's Ph.D. Advisory Committee.
  • Year 2 & 3 Student continue to fulfill the requirements of the program in their second and third year. After requirements are completed, student must pass three written field exams in areas that include: public policy and methods; the first area of specialization; and the second area of concentration. If suggested by his/her Ph.D. Advisory Committee, the student may take additional courses in preparation for the dissertation.
  • Year 3 & 4 In consultation with his/her Dissertation Committee, the student writes and defends the dissertation proposal. The student begins work on dissertation. Students write their dissertations and present a public oral defense. In some cases, students may receive financial support to complete their dissertations in the fifth year.


For more information, please contact:

Department of Political Science, 302 Bowman Hall Kent State University Kent, Ohio 44242-0001