Office: Encina Hall West, room 100
Mail Code: 94305-6044
Phone: (650) 723-1608
Web Site:

Courses offered by the Department of Political Science are listed under the subject code POLISCI on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses website.

Mission of the Undergraduate Program in Political Science

The mission of the undergraduate program in Political Science is to provide students with a solid grasp of the American political system and other political systems within the context of global forces, international conflicts, social movements, ideological systems and diversity. Courses in the major are designed to help students gain competency in the study of political science; to introduce students to a variety of research methodologies and analytical frameworks; and to develop students' written and oral communication skills. Students in the program have excellent preparation for further study in graduate or professional schools as well as careers in government, business, and not-for-profit organizations.

Graduate Programs in Political Science

The Department of Political Science offers two types of advanced degrees:

  • Doctor of Philosophy

  • Master of Arts in Political Science which is open to current Stanford University doctoral or professional school (Schools of Law, Medicine, Business) students only. 

The department does not have a terminal M.A. program for external applicants.

Political Science Faculty

Emeriti: (Professors) David B. Abernethy, David W. Brady, Joshua Cohen, David Danielski, Charles Drekmeier, Richard R. Fagen, John A. Ferejohn, David J. Holloway, Terry L. Karl, Stephen D. Krasner, John W. Lewis, John Manley, James March, Daniel Okimoto, Robert A. Packenham, Jack N. Rakove, Philippe Schmitter, Hans N. Weiler

Chair: Michael R. Tomz

Director of Graduate Studies: Alison E.J. McQueen

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Adam Bonica

Director of Honors and Senior Capstones: Lauren Davenport

Professors: Lisa Blaydes, Bruce E. Cain, Gary W. Cox, James D. Fearon, Morris P. Fiorina, Judith L. Goldstein, Justin Grimmer, Anna Grzymala-Busse, Stephen H. Haber, Jens Hainmueller, Andrew B. Hall, Daniel E. Ho, Shanto Iyengar, Jon A. Krosnick, David D. Laitin, Margaret Levi, Beatriz Magaloni, Michael A. McFaul, Terry M. Moe, Josiah Ober, Jean C. Oi, Rob Reich, Condoleezza Rice, Douglas Rivers, Jonathan A. Rodden, Scott D. Sagan, Kenneth A. Schultz, Paul M. Sniderman, Michael R. Tomz, Barry R. Weingast, Jeremy M. Weinstein

Associate Professors: Avidit Acharya, Adam Bonica, Lauren Davenport, Alison McQueen

Assistant Professors: Emilee Chapman, Vasiliki Fouka, Saad Gulzar, Hakeem J. Jefferson, Amanda Kennard, Soledad Prillaman, Yiqing Xu

Lecturers: Brian Coyne, Alain Schläpfer

Courtesy Professors: Jonathan B. Bendor, Steven Callander, Larry Diamond, Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Dan Edelstein, James Fishkin, Lawrence Friedman, Francis Fukuyama, Colin Kahl, Keith Krehbiel, Neil Malhotra, Nathaniel Persily, Debra M. Satz, Ken Shotts, Stephen J. Stedman, Andrew Walder, Leif Wenar, Amy Zegart

Courtesy Associate Professor: Alberto Diaz-Cayeros, Saumitra Jha

Courtesy Assistant Professor: Juliana Bidadanure, Jennifer Pan

Graduate Advising Expectations

Academic advising by department faculty is a critical component of graduate students’ education. The Political Science department is committed to providing academic advising in support of graduate student scholarly and professional development. When most effective, this advising relationship entails collaborative and sustained engagement by both the adviser and the advisee. Both the adviser and the advisee are expected to maintain professionalism and integrity.

As a best practice, students and advisers should periodically discuss advising expectations to ensure mutual understanding. Graduate students are active contributors to the advising relationship, proactively seeking academic and professional guidance and taking responsibility for informing themselves of policies and degree requirements for their graduate program.

Additionally, the program adheres to the advising guidelines and responsibilities listed by the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and in the "Graduate Advising" section of this bulletin. Academic advising by Stanford faculty is a critical component of all graduate students' education and additional resources can be found in the Policies and Best Practices for Advising Relationships at Stanford and the Guidelines for Faculty-Student Advising at Stanford.


All incoming doctoral students are assigned two pre-candidacy mentors by the Director of Graduate Studies. These mentors are responsible for advising students until they advance to candidacy on key areas such as course selection, initial research projects, and early stage professional development opportunities. Students should meet with their pre-candidacy mentors at least once per quarter, although there is likely to be variation in meeting frequency by individual adviser and advisee. 

In the third year, students will convene a prospectus committee who will meet them once each quarter to receive an update on overall progress and to provide feedback on the prospectus. In the fall, this committee will consist of at least two faculty members. By the spring quarter, the committee will have three faculty members, who will be expected to approve the final prospectus by the end of the year. While this prospectus committee may form the basis for a dissertation reading committee, students will be free to assemble a dissertation reading committee whose members differ from those of the prospectus committee.

By the end of the fourth year, students are required to appoint one primary dissertation adviser and are encouraged to identify two to three additional faculty who are likely to fill out the rest of their dissertation reading committee. They are required to formally identify their full reading committee by the end of their fourth year. The adviser and committee are selected by the student on the basis of expertise relevant to the dissertation project. Students should meet with their adviser and reading committee (once named) at least once per quarter, though there is likely to be variation in meeting frequency by individual adviser and advisee.

Faculty advisers should provide guidance in key areas such as selecting courses, designing and conducting research, developing teaching pedagogy, navigating policies and degree requirements, and exploring academic opportunities and professional pathways.

At least once per year, either formally or informally, students and advisers are expected to review the student’s progress towards completion of their research and their degree. Such discussions may include other members of the student’s dissertation committee, either together or individually.

Nearly all students have an adviser from among the primary faculty members of the department. In rare circumstances, the dissertation adviser may be a faculty member from another Stanford department. When the research adviser is from outside the department, the student must also identify a co-adviser from the department's primary faculty. 

The Director of Graduate Studies is an additional advising resource for students, particularly in areas of degree progress, program requirements, and selecting research advisers. Academic progress and student completion of program requirements and milestones are monitored by the Director of Graduate Studies and student services staff and are discussed at meetings of the faculty twice per academic year.

Requirements and milestones, as well as more detailed descriptions of the program’s expectations of advisers and students, are listed in the Ph.D. Program Guide, found on the department website.

Master of Arts

The Political Science department does not offer a terminal M.A. degree. An M.A. degree may only be pursued in combination with a doctoral degree from another department within the University or with an advanced degree from one of the University's professional schools (i.e., Schools of Law, Medicine, Business).

The Director of Graduate Studies is available to provide guidance on course selection and course planning. It is the responsibility of the student to contact the Director of Graduate Studies to schedule a meeting to discuss advising expectations. This should happen when the student begins the M.A. degree program and annually as needed.

M.A. students should also discuss how the M.A. degree and Political Science coursework supports their primary doctoral degree with their doctoral program adviser.