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Graduate Program

Other Rules and Responsibilities

Teaching Responsibility

As part of the training for the PhD, all students are expected to fulfill a further responsibility to the department in the form of teaching (normally as a teaching assistant) for the equivalent of four semesters in residence. Students should fulfill the requirement by teaching in their third and fourth years. Students who plan to conduct field research may have the timing of their teaching duties shifted. In such cases, students must petition the director of graduate studies for an exception.

Residency Requirement

In the years of study during which the student receives stipend support (typically the first five years), the student is required to be in residence during the academic year. This means that the student must be actively engaged in the intellectual life of the department by attending classes, participating in seminars, and being involved in other departmental activities. This does not restrict travel to conferences or for other academic purposes, and reasonable personal travel is allowed. Students who require exceptions to be away from campus for extended periods of time (for instance, students planning to conduct fieldwork) must receive prior approval from the director of graduate studies. The goal of this requirement is to promote a vibrant academic environment in the Department of Political Science, and to impose reasonable limitations consistent with ongoing PhD training and research; if there is any uncertainty as to the interpretation of this rule, the student should consult the director of graduate studies for clarification.

University and Department Enrollment Responsibilities

Every graduate student should be aware of the MA and PhD requirements stated in the University Graduate Bulletin. Department responsibilities and requirements are in addition to, or part of, the general University responsibilities.

In order to achieve the University requirements of 90 credit hours, each student should ordinarily register for at least 32 credit hours each year for the first two years of study and 26 credit hours in the third year of study. Tuition scholarships are ordinarily granted for five successive years, and these allow a maximum of 90 total credit hours. In addition to 400 level courses, students should register for sufficient units of PhD Research courses to achieve the appropriate hours-per-year total. Students will be assisted by the department in selecting the appropriate course numbers for non-course-based credits (e.g., PhD research credits).

No later than the end of the second year, a Master of Arts Program of Study Form must be completed by each student. Please consult with the department administrator for details. The degree is awarded after successful completion of requirements for a major and minor field, the comprehensive literature survey, and the PhD qualifying examination.

At the time a student takes the PhD qualifying examination, and no later than the end of the third year, a formal Program of Study Form for the PhD must be filed with the Dean's Office. This form lists all the courses in the student’s PhD program. Please see the department administrator for details.

Students beyond their fifth year of study are responsible for paying a continuing enrollment fee (which is approximately five percent of annual tuition) and the mandatory health fee. Students leaving the Rochester area pay the required enrollment fee, but no health fee.

Financial Support

To remain eligible for financial support, a student cannot have three or more Incomplete grades at the beginning of a semester. Financial support in the fourth and fifth years of study is contingent on admittance to PhD candidacy (passing the PhD qualifying examination). A student who plans to apply for outside fellowship support should meet with the director of graduate studies, as outside awards may affect levels of departmental support.

Eligibility to Enter Academic Job Market

The department will prepare files and letters of recommendation for students seeking regular academic positions only if the student has passed the PhD qualifying examination and has the approval of their dissertation advisor. Each student going on the academic job market is expected to present a practice job talk that is announced and open to all faculty and graduate students, and for students in the fourth or fifth year of the program, this fulfills the workshop presentation requirement for that year.

Annual Review of Progress

The faculty meet in May of each year to discuss the progress of all students in the PhD program. This allows the faculty to review each student in detail, and it gives students the opportunity to receive systematic feedback. In addition to the student’s performance in class and progress toward the dissertation, the faculty assess each student’s standing in the program, with continuation being contingent on having fulfilled all requirements of the program and making satisfactory progress toward successful completion of the doctoral dissertation.

For students in the first two years of study, the faculty consider the student’s potential to advance to the level of PhD candidate, and to formulate a problem for doctoral research in political science and address it by the rigorous application of appropriate methods. Thus, it is important that a student in the first two years of the program demonstrate competence in technical courses and also excellence in some field: minimally, for example, a student should be doing A-level work in some field. In addition, the performance of students in the first year of the program will be reviewed after the fall semester as a way to give them early feedback on progress.

Separation and Withdrawal

The PhD program contains a number of requirements and specific deadlines. The director of graduate studies and individual faculty members will attempt to provide reminders of requirements and adequate notice of deadlines, but it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to meet obligations of the program. Failure to fulfill a degree requirement, or delay past a required deadline, can lead to sanctions such as suspension of funding or removal from the program.

In addition, students in the dissertation phase must continue to make satisfactory progress toward completion of the dissertation. At the discretion of the faculty and the director of graduate studies, students in the dissertation phase may be asked to identify achievable milestones towards completion of the dissertation, and failing to achieve these milestones may lead to removal from the program.

Students may opt to voluntarily withdraw from the program at any time by notifying their advisor and the director of graduate studies. Students who have made sufficient progress in the program may be eligible to receive a MA in political science; students should discuss this option with the director of graduate studies to determine their eligibility.

Appeals Process

If, due to extenuating circumstances, a student cannot satisfy a program requirement, then they should notify the director of graduate studies in advance to request an extension or waiver, along with justification of the request, and reasonable accommodations can be made. If a student is sanctioned due a failure to satisfy requirements of the program, then they can appeal the decision to the department chair. The graduate student may then select a representative from among tenured or tenure-track faculty or PhD students in good standing, and a committee consisting of the department chair, the associate chairs of the department, the director of graduate studies, and the student’s representative will hear the appeal and return a decision in a timely manner.

Amendments to Program Rules

The procedures and requirements of the PhD program at Rochester are subject to change in the normal course of events, as we adapt to the evolving academic environment and seek to improve the training of our graduate students. Procedural details and minor requirements will be determined by the department chair and director of graduate studies, while more substantial changes in requirements (which are infrequent) will be subject to approval by department faculty. In such cases, when possible and within reason, students will be given the option to continue under the rules in place when they matriculated; in any case, every attempt is made to transition students with minimal disruption of PhD training.