Graduate Program Requirements

Requirements for Ph.D.

Fields of Concentration

  • American Politics and Policy
  • Conflict Analysis and Management
  • Transnational and Comparative Politics and Policy

To complete the degree students must take 36 credit hours of course work plus additional research hours needed to complete the dissertation. Coursework is divided into core courses, areas of concentration, and a research tool.

Core Courses

The Kent State University Ph.D. is fundamentally a research degree. 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. The core courses include:

  • POL 70002 Scope and Epistemology
  • POL 70003 Quantitative Methods I
  • POL 70004 Quantitative Methods II
  • One of the following advanced research methods courses:
    • POL 79091 Seminar: Quantitative Methods
    • POL 70010 Qualitative Methods
    • POL 70304 Analytical Techniques in Policy Making

Areas of Concentration

In the first semester, students begin to develop a concentration in two areas. Students fulfill the concentration requirements by taking two proseminars selected from the following:

  • POL 70101 Seminar in American Politics and Policy
  • POL 70901 Seminar in Conflict Analysis and Management
  • POL 70501 Seminar in Transnational and Comparative Politics and Policy

In addition, students take an additional three electives in their first concentration field and two electives in their second concentration.

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. Note that a student may take one of the advanced research methods courses not applied towards fulfillment of the core courses to fulfill the research tool requirement.

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.

Typical Time Line for Full-time Ph.D. Students

Year 1

In the Fall Semester, students take two proseminars and POL 70003 Quantitative Methods I. In the Spring Semester students take an elective in the major concentration and two core courses, POL 70004 Policy Methods II and POL 70002 Scope and Epistemology. The selection of electives is done in consultation with an advisor and the student's Ph.D. Advisory Committee.

Years 2 and 3

Students continue to fulfill the requirements of the program by taking the advanced research methods course, the required research tool, and the remaining electives in the areas of concentration. After requirements are completed, students must pass two written comprehensive field exams in the areas of concentration. The student may take additional courses in preparation for the dissertation.

Years 3 and 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.

Requirements for the M.A.

The Master of Arts (M.A.) program has two tracks: (1) The non-thesis track; and (2) The thesis track. The non-thesis M.A. students follow the same track as the Ph.D. students follow in their first two years of study with one exception; these students are not required to fulfill the research tool requirement but instead choose an elective in consultation with their advisor. The M.A. thesis students take 3 fewer courses. The thesis M.A. students only take one elective in each of their two areas of concentration. Also, non-thesis students are not required to take a research tool but instead take an additional elective chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor. In lieu of the additional coursework, the students write a thesis that requires an oral defense before graduation. The M.A. thesis students formulate a topic in consultation with the student’s advisor and committee and the thesis is completed during the second year. See the graduate handbook for more details on guidelines for the M.A. thesis


For more information, please contact:

Dr. Julie Mazzei, Graduate Coordinator
Department of Political Science
Kent State University
302 Bowman Hall P.O. Box 5190
Kent, Ohio 44242-0001