The Ph.D. in Political Science

Broadly but not exclusively focused on the dynamics surrounding representation, equity, conflict, rights, and conflict resolution, the graduate program at Kent State allows candidates to study important and timely questions under well-established scholars. Our focus on methodological skill, sophisticated research design, and faculty mentoring enables PhD candidates to develop their own research questions in a theoretically and empirically grounded manner. Our program enjoys an impressive completion rate (see successfully defended dissertation titles here), and our PhD recipients place well

Candidates for the Ph.D. in Political Science at Kent State University focus their study in one of our areas of concentration: American Politics and Policy, Transnational and Comparative Politics, or Conflict Analysis and Management. Throughout their studies, graduate students benefit from the substantive direction of established scholars, along with rigorous methodological training in both qualitative and quantitative course work. Students also take a one-credit compulsory course in instructional methods. Advanced, funded students may have opportunities to teach their own courses. As a result, our graduates not only publish relevant and contemporary scholarship, but are effective instructors. 

Many of our Ph.D. students receive funding to support their study. Funding is competitive and only granted to students with exemplary academic records. Support is generally continued for four years, and currently includes a nine-month stipend of $16,000, tuition remission, and a subsidized health insurance plan. Funded students serve as Graduate Assistants (either assisting with research or teaching) throughout the academic year. In some cases, students may receive financial support to complete their dissertations in the fifth year.


Ph.D. candidates complete 36 credit hours of coursework prior to the research hours necessary to complete the dissertation. 


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 develop these sophisticated skills. The core courses include:

  • POL 70002 Scope and Epistemology
  •  POL 70003 Quantitative Methods I
  • POL 70004 Quantitative Methods II
  • POL 70010 Qualitative Methods

One of the following advanced research methods courses:

  • POL 6/70304 Analytic Techniques of Policy-Making
  • POL 6/79091 Seminar: Quantitative Methods
  • SOC 6/72221 Advanced Qualitative Methods in Sociology
  • SBS 73011 Qualitative Data Analysis in Educational Services
  • EVAL 85518 Advanced Qualitative Research
  • POL 70379 Program Evaluation  I

Ph.D. candidates select a concentration on which to focus their substantive work: American Politics and Policy or Conflict Analysis and Management. Students are required to take one Status of the Field course or ProSeminar in each concentration:

  • POL 70101 Status of the Field: American Politics and Policy
  • POL 70901 ProSeminar in Conflict Analysis and Management

Students also complete an additional

  • three electives in their first concentration field and
  • two electives in their second concentration.

The specific electives offered will change from year to year.


Ph.D. candidates take, typically in the spring semester of their first year, the course in college teaching. In this one-credit course, students are introduced to the skills necessary to be successful and engaging instructors. Upon the successful completion of this course and after serving satisfactorily as a teaching assistant, students may serve as teaching fellows and teach their own courses.

  • POL 71094 College Teaching in Political Science
Comprehensive Exams

Students are required to write and pass a field exam in their first area of concentration. In this field paper, students demonstrate depth and range of knowledge and explain how their research focus fits within that broader field.

Years 3 and 4

Following successful completion of the comprehensive exams and in consultation with her/his Dissertation Committee, Ph.D. candidates then begin the dissertation phase of their work. A successful prospectus defense, often completed within one year, advances the candidate to the research and writing phase of the dissertation. Degrees are conferred with successful defense of the dissertation.

Previous Dissertations

Please contact Dr. Daniel Chand, Graduate Coordinator, with questions regarding the Ph.D. program at or (330) 672-8939.