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Graduate Program

Overview of PhD Program

The Rochester Approach

The Department of Political Science offers a program of study leading to the degree of doctor of philosophy, which is designed to train scholars who will contribute to the future development of political science through careers in teaching and research. The department is regularly ranked among the top political science departments in the country. In its most recent report, the National Research Council ranked the Rochester department's graduate program sixth in the country. Controlling for size, a 2001 study in PS: Political Science & Politics concluded that Rochester ranked first in the country in the productivity of its PhD alumni, as measured by publications in leading journals. More recently (2007), PS ranked Rochester fourth both with respect to graduate placement and citations of graduates' research. Of seven political scientists elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013, four received their PhDs from Rochester.

Rochester is the birthplace of a distinctive approach to studying politics that emphasizes the development of formal theory and the analysis of quantitative evidence. A cursory examination of the discipline's leading journals--the American Political Science Review and the American Journal of Political Science--demonstrates how the field was revolutionized by this development. It is no exaggeration to say that the field of political science has been reshaped in the last generation by Rochester faculty and graduates.

The PhD Program

The PhD program at Rochester remains unique. It is the most rigorous, technical, and mathematical training program available within a department of political science anywhere in the world. Unlike the traditional program, which is organized as a smorgasbord of offerings, the core of the Rochester program is a focused course of training that covers all of the technical tools of contemporary political science. Each student specializes in one or more substantive areas, such as American or comparative politics, international relations, or political philosophy, but every one of them attains a degree of sophistication in formal theory and statistical methods that is rarely achieved by graduates of more traditional programs.

The doctoral program requires at least four, and usually five, years of full-time study. For most PhD students the first year of study will be spent completing courses in the required theoretical and methodological sequences and exploring some substantive fields. The second year is spent on substantive concentration and research culminating with the presentation of a research paper in the beginning of year three. All candidates for the PhD degree will become involved in teaching during their third and fourth years. The PhD comprehensive examinations in three fields of concentration are normally completed by the second semester of the third year. Upon passing the PhD qualifying exam, a master of arts degree is awarded. Writing the PhD thesis is the major task of the remainder of the program.

Financial Support and Resources

All PhD students in good standing are guaranteed a stipend and full support for tuition for five years of study. Additionally, funding is available to do joint empirical work with faculty through the PEPR grant program sponsored by the Wallis Institute of Political Economy. Students have office space in Harkness Hall, with graduate offices interspersed among faculty offices. In addition, graduate students are eligible to receive support for summers through Charles E. Lanni Research Fellowships, which provide an opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on a research project. In addition, faculty members often hire students as research assistants independently of these programs.

PhD Placement

The Rochester program has produced many of this generation's intellectual leaders. In recent years Rochester graduates have joined faculties at a wide range of institutions, including Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, NYU, Princeton, Rice, Stanford, Ohio State, UCLA, UCSD, UNC, Washington, and Yale University, as well as other universities and colleges throughout the world.

The Faculty

The success of the Rochester program has come from the internationally esteemed faculty and their accessibility to their graduate students. Classes and seminars are small, and students work closely with the relevant faculty throughout their graduate training.