Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science

The principal goal of the Stanford Ph.D. program in political science is the training of scholars. Most students who receive doctorates in the program do research and teach at colleges or universities. We offer courses and research opportunities in a wide variety of fields in the discipline, including American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, and Political Methodology.  The program is built around small seminars that analyze critically the literature of a field or focus on a research problem. These courses prepare students for the Ph.D. comprehensive exam requirement within a two-year period and for work on the doctoral dissertation. 

The University's basic requirements for the Ph.D. degree are discussed in the Graduate Degrees section of this bulletin.

Admission to the Ph.D. Program

Admission to the Ph.D. program is highly competitive. The selection of Ph.D. students admitted to the Department of Political Science is based on an individualized, holistic review of each application, including (but not limited to) the applicant’s academic record, the letters of recommendation, the scores on the General GRE (Graduate Record Examination), the statement of purpose, and the writing sample. About 12-15 students, chosen from a large pool of applicants, enter the program every year. These students are chosen on the basis of a strong academic background as evidenced by previous study, test results, writing sample, and letters of recommendation.

General GRE scores are required of all applicants. Scores from any GRE subject tests are not required. There are no exceptions to the GRE requirement and no other exams (including the LSAT or GMAT) are accepted in lieu of the GRE.

Before starting the application process applicants should read the Admissions section of the department website, especially the Frequently Asked Questions. All questions regarding graduate admissions should be directed to the Political Science Student Services office.