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POLSC-PHD - Political Science (PhD)

Political Science Political Science PHD - Doctor of Philosophy

Program Overview

Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science

The principal goal of the Stanford PhD 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 various disciplines, including American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, and Political Methodology. The program is built around small seminars that critically analyze the literature of a field or focus on a research problem. These courses prepare students for the PhD comprehensive exam requirement within two years and for work on the doctoral dissertation. 

See Graduate Degrees for the university’s basic requirements for the PhD degree.

Admission to the Ph.D. Program

Admission to the PhD program is highly competitive. The selection of PhD 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 annually. These students are selected based on a solid academic background, as evidenced by previous studies, test results, writing samples, 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 instead 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.