Comparative politics is a subfield that focuses broadly on the study of politics beyond the United States. Our faculty and graduate and undergraduate course offerings cover a wide variety of topics including: dictatorship and democracy, comparative and international political economy, legislatures, courts, political parties, and voting and elections.
Comparative politics is a field that develops and tests theories to explain political events and patterns across political systems, largely, but not exclusively, nation-states. It also incorporates substantive description of political phenomena relevant to such explanation. In American political science this has largely come to mean description and explanation of politics in countries outside the United States.
The field requirements in comparative politics comprehend three elements: an overview of the comparative field in general, usually gained by taking the comparative politics field seminar (PSCI 550), and courses in two substantive subfields. This knowledge can be acquired through three graduate courses taken during your first two or three years of graduate study. Only if appropriate courses are not offered, will it be necessary to supplement formal courses with independent study.
Overview of the Comparative Field
An overview of the comparative field will be presented in PSCI 550: Comparative Politics Field Seminar. This course is designed to introduce some “classic works” and some recent approaches in the various subfields of comparative politics. It will also introduce various methodological approaches and issues in the comparative field, including research design and measurement of important concepts. Unless explicitly waived, this course is a prerequisite for students taking the comparative politics field examination.
Major substantive subfields in comparative politics include, but are not limited to: democratization and development; conflict and revolution; democratic political processes; comparative parties and elections; comparative political institutions; and comparative political economy. It is also possible to organize research and knowledge in comparative politics by cultural or political regions. If a graduate-level course is offered in comparative politics, it is reasonable to assume that the course syllabus comprises an acceptable basis for your preparation in a subfield. It is assumed that students will take at least three graduate comparative seminars as preparation for the comparative field. These courses are unlikely to be offered every year, so students should consult with faculty and plan their schedules accordingly.
Organization of the Field Examination
The field examination is a written examination. In principle, it may be written at any point in the year, but you are advised to discuss your plans with a relevant faculty member well ahead of time. The exam will consist of two parts, with a choice of questions for each part. Barring exceptional circumstances, students will be given eight hours to answer each part, and the parts will be administered on successive days. A strict word limit will be specified for each part. The syllabi from two of your required substantive courses (not including the Field Seminar) will be used to generate the questions for the exam. In general, the examination will be written and read by the faculty members who taught the courses used to generate the exam.
If an examination scheduled to accommodate you falls at a particularly inconvenient time for relevant faculty, this may produce delay in reading and returning the examination to you. Normally, however, examinations are read and returned within two weeks. Results are ultimately reported as "pass" or "fail." In indeterminate cases, the examining faculty may offer you the opportunity to rewrite part of the examination before a final decision is reached.
Qualitative Data, Country Information
This site contains up-to-date background notes on all countries of the world. All country background files have a political, historical and economic section and contain the name and address of the current U.S. ambassador.
This website contains the on-line versions of books previously published in hard copy by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress as part of the Country Studies/Area Handbook Series sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Army between 1986 and 1998. Each study offers a comprehensive description and analysis of the country or region's historical setting, geography, society, economy, political system, and foreign policy. Although slightly outdated they provide solid historical background information.
This page contains information on government, politics, parties and elections on a country by country basis. In addition, the site contains alphabetically ordered links to all countries, with map, link to the CIA Factbook and a link to the countries current constitution as PDF.
This page contains links to important or unusual datasets useful to comparativists. Most links lead to quantitative datasets, but some also lead to detailed qualitative country information. The links are ordered alphabetically.
Contains links to the most important quantitative datasets and data-host websites (e.g., Harvard’s dataverse) ordered by topics in comparative politics.
This page contains links to important or unusual datasets useful to comparativists. The links are ordered alphabetically.
Country level dataset containing a wide range of variables that describe states in terms of their in-, through- and output performance.
This site contains links to various datasets grouped by topic.
International Field Research Grants
The Department of Political Science at the University of Rochester offers two types of grants to support graduate students conducting field research:
External Sources of Funding
Summer Seed Grants support University of Rochester political science graduate students engaged in short-term field research outside of the United States. The purpose of the grant is to foster exploratory pre-dissertation research and/or provide supplemental resources for students engaged in summer field research for their dissertations.
First through fourth year PhD students in political science are eligible to apply for seed grants of up to $3,000. The level of funding will reflect the amount of time spent in the field and other budgetary constraints. Priority will be given to doctoral students writing a dissertation in comparative politics. Students may apply for summer seed grants each year, but priority will be given to students who have not previously received seed grant money. Note that second-year students will need to obtain approval from a faculty member for their second-year paper project prior to receiving funding to go abroad.
Application materials are due by March 1. Grant awards will be made no later than April 10th.
The application includes:
- A project description of six to eight pages (double-spaced 12-point font) that includes the research questions to be addressed, the theory or hypotheses that will be tested, case selection and methodologies, and a discussion of proposed field research (interviews, data collection, archival work, etc).
- A proposed budget (airfare, lodging, research materials, etc.). Please be sure to plan accordingly, as budget awards will not be increased once they are made.
Field Research Dissertation Grants support University of Rochester Political Science graduate students engaged in dissertation research outside of the United States. The purpose of the grant is to enable students to conduct field research necessary for completing their dissertations.
Third year PhD students in political science are eligible to apply for an International Field Research Dissertation Grant to conduct field work for at least one semester during the academic year of their fourth year. Grants of up to $9,000 will be made to supplement graduate stipends during the period spent abroad conducting dissertation field research. The level of funding will reflect the amount of time spent in the field and other budgetary constraints. Priority will be given to students writing a dissertation in comparative politics.
To be eligible to apply for the department’s International Field Research Grant, it is required that all students also apply for at least one outside dissertation field research grant, preferably during the fall of their third year. It is each student’s responsibility to identify appropriate external funding opportunities and to apply for such grants in a timely matter. Students awarded the department's International Field Research Grant must complete their dissertation defense prior to receiving the funding to go abroad.
Application materials are due by March 1. Grant awards will be made no later than April 10th.
The application includes:
- A project description of 10-12 pages (double-spaced 12-point font) that includes the research questions to be addressed, the theory or hypotheses that will be tested, case selection and methodologies, and a discussion of proposed field research (interviews, data collection, archival work, etc).
- A proposed budget (airfare, lodging, research materials, etc.). Please plan accordingly, as budget awards will not be increased once they are made.
- A letter of recommendation from a member of your dissertation committee.
Note: Students who receive a Field Research Dissertation Grant or external funding will be eligible to apply for the Dean of Graduate Studies Post-field Research Dissertation Write-up Fellowship for sixth year funding. (Students will be informed by the DGS about the College’s relevant deadline and requirements, or you may contact the Graduate Studies office for further information.)
The Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship (DPDF) is a strategic fellowship program designed to help graduate students in the humanities and social sciences formulate doctoral dissertation proposals that are intellectually pointed, amenable to completion in a reasonable time frame, and competitive in fellowship competitions. The program is organized around distinct research fields subdisciplinary and interdisciplinary domains with common intellectual questions and styles of research. Each year, an SSRC Field Selection Committee selects five fields proposed by pairs of research directors who are tenured professors at different doctoral degree-granting programs at U.S. universities. Research directors receive a stipend of $10,000. Graduate students in the early phase of their research, generally second and third years, apply to one of five research fields led by the two directors; each group is made up of twelve graduate students. Fellows participate in two workshops, one in the late spring that helps prepare them to undertake predissertation research on their topics; and one in the early fall, designed to help them synthesize their summer research and to draft proposals for dissertation funding. Fellows are eligible to apply for up to $5000 from SSRC to support predissertation research during the summer. The program is designed for second and third year PhD students (independent of citizenship), enrolled in U.S. institutions, who have not yet submitted and will not submit their dissertation proposals until after the fall workshop. Students who have completed their comprehensive/general/qualifying exams are eligible as long as they have not had their dissertation proposal formally approved by their department before the fall workshop.
In order to encourage humanistic research in area studies, special funding by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the ACLS has been set aside for approximately eight ACLS/SSRC/NEH International and Area Studies Fellowships to be designated among the successful applicants to the central ACLS Fellowship competition. Scholars who are at least two years beyond the PhD may apply for 6—12 month fellowships to pursue research and writing on the societies and cultures of Asia, Africa, the Near and Middle East, Latin America, East Europe and the former Soviet Union.
The Warren Miller Fellowship honors the outstanding contributions of Warren E. Miller to the study of electoral politics and other areas of political science inquiry. The fellowship will support research residencies in national and comparative electoral politics. The Miller fellowships will support scholars for a period one to six months at the Centennial Center.
The Special Fund for the Study of Women and Politics is designed to provide scholars conducting research on issues of women and politics with supplemental funding. Monies awarded through this fund may support resident or non-resident stays at the Centennial Center.
The APSA Organized Section for Public Administration invites applications and research proposals from junior scholars researching public administration issues affecting governance in the United States and abroad. Proposals will be judged on their potential to shed new light on important public administration questions, their scholarly and methodological rigor, and their promise for advancing practice and theory development. Individual grants are not renewable. As a part of the APSA Centennial Campaign, support from the Volcker Endowment can, but need not, involve research residencies at the Centennial Center in Washington. Recipients may conduct research on issues affecting or relevant to public administration at any level (or levels) of government, in any nation (or across nations), and from whatever locale is most useful or appropriate for their research purposes.
The Fund will support research on the intersection of gender, race, ethnicity, and political power. Income from the endowment will be used to support, but not be limited to, research grants for pre-dissertation graduate students, an award, or public presentation addressing the intersection of gender, race, ethnicity, and politics. The fellowship can be applied to resident or non-resident scholars of the Centennial Center.
The American-Israeli Cooperative (AICE) is pleased to offer five $15,000 awards to students interested in pursuing academic careers in fields related to the study of Israel. This highly competitive award is open to seniors applying to graduate programs, MA students entering PhD programs, and doctoral candidates. Grants are renewable for up to five years based on the completion of certain milestones. The competition is open only to U.S. citizens. Proposals from candidates in all disciplines with an Israel focus are welcome. Complete applications, including transcripts and references, must be received by March 1, 2008.
The Smith Richardson Foundation is pleased to announce a new annual grant competition to support PhD dissertation research on American foreign policy, international relations, international security, strategic studies, area studies, and diplomatic and military history. The fellowship’s objective is to support the research and writing of policy-relevant dissertations through funding of fieldwork, archival research, and language training. In evaluating applications, the Foundation will accord preference to those projects that could directly inform U.S. policy debates and thinking, rather than dissertations that are principally focused on abstract theory or debates within a scholarly discipline.
Researcher mobility travel grants provide AS&E faculty and graduate students the opportunity to conduct research for up to six months. Awards are for up to $7,500 and cover economy air travel, visa, accommodation, and subsistence costs.
Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Opportunities, International Dissertation Research Fellowships
This fellowship supports distinguished graduate students in the humanities and social sciences, enrolled in doctoral programs in the United States, conducting dissertation research outside the United States. Seventy-five fellowships of approximately $20,000 will be awarded in 2009 with funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The IDRF program is committed to scholarship that advances knowledge about non-U.S. cultures and societies grounded in empirical and site-specific research (involving fieldwork, research in archival or manuscript collections, or quantitative data collection). The program promotes research that is situated in a specific discipline and geographical region and is engaged with interdisciplinary and cross-regional perspectives. Applicants must have completed all PhD requirements except on-site dissertation research by the time the fellowship begins or by December 2009, whichever comes first. Fellowships will provide support for nine to twelve months of dissertation research. The fellowship must be held for a single continuous period within the eighteen months between July 2009 and December 2010.
The Harvard Academy Scholars Program was established to identify and support outstanding scholars who are at the start of their careers whose work combines disciplinary excellence in the social sciences (including history and law) with a command of the language, history or culture of non-Western countries or regions. Their scholarship may elucidate domestic, comparative, or transnational issues, past or present.
The Academy Scholars are a select group of individuals who show promise of becoming leading scholars at major universities or international institutions. They are appointed and supported by the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies and are provided opportunities for advanced work at Harvard University.
Those selected as Academy Scholars are given time, guidance, access to Harvard facilities, and substantial financial assistance as they work for two years conducting either post-doctoral or final-stage dissertation research in their chosen fields or areas. Some teaching is permitted but not required. The Senior Scholars, a distinguished group of senior Harvard faculty members, act as mentors to the Academy Scholars to help them achieve their intellectual potential.
Applications are welcome from any qualified person without regard to nationality, gender, or race.
The International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) program supports distinguished graduate students in the humanities and social sciences conducting dissertation research outside the United States. Seventy-five fellowships will be awarded in 2009 with funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The IDRF program is committed to empirical and site-specific research that advances knowledge about non-U.S. cultures and societies (involving fieldwork, research in archival or manuscript collections, or quantitative data collection). The program promotes research that is situated in a specific discipline and geographical region and is engaged with interdisciplinary and cross-regional perspectives.
The program is open to full-time graduate students in the humanities and social sciences -- regardless of citizenship -- enrolled in doctoral programs in the United States.
The Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies offers up to one-year of research support at the Freie Universität Berlin. It is open to scholars in all social science and humanities disciplines, including historians working on modern and contemporary German and European history. The program accepts applications from U.S. and Canadian nationals or permanent residents. Applicants for a dissertation fellowship must be full-time graduate students who have achieved ABD status by the time the proposed research stay in Berlin begins. Also eligible are U.S. and Canadian PhDs who have received their doctorates within the past two calendar years.
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables highly qualified, early-stage researchers from abroad, who hold doctorates, to carry out research projects of their own choice in Germany. Applications may be submitted for long-term research stays of at least six and at most 12 months; an extension of up to 24 months is possible. Researchers of all nationalities and disciplines may apply to Alexander von Humboldt directly at any time. There are no quotas for individual countries and disciplines. Funding is not available for short-term study visits, participation in conferences, or training courses. Research fellowships are offered world-wide on a competitive basis. The most important criteria for selection are the applicant's (international) publications to date and the quality and feasibility of the research proposal. Applicants choose their own research projects and their own German hosts. Details of the research project and the time-schedule must be agreed upon with the prospective host in advance. Applications to continue a research stay which has already begun may be considered in exceptional cases.
The British Politics Group is pleased to announce the annual Donald E. Stokes Dissertation Research Fellowship. This fellowship of $1000 U.S is intended to assist a graduate student at a North American University working on a dissertation on British politics (broadly defined to include comparative and historical work as well as contemporary British politics) to conduct research in the United Kingdom.
Research Grant Program: assists individual scholars or teams of scholars in writing an article-length manuscript of publishable quality with a focus on Canada or Canada-U.S. relations.
Graduate Student Fellowship Program: offers doctoral students an opportunity to conduct part of their dissertation research in Canada. The program is intended for students whose dissertations are related in substantial part to the study of Canada.
List of diverse volunteer, research and work opportunities in Africa.
The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellowship Program provides recent PhD recipients and ABDs (please see program eligibility requirements) with opportunities to conduct research in Japan under the leadership of a host researcher. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Fellows will be selected by JSPS based on nominations made by the SSRC Japan Advisory Board.
The Abe Fellowship supports professional research in the social sciences and related disciplines on contemporary policy-relevant issues, especially those which promote a new level of intellectual cooperation between Japan and America. Applicants must be citizens of the U.S. or Japan (or be able to demonstrate serious affiliations with research communities in the U.S. or Japan) and hold the terminal degree in their field by the start of their fellowship term.
The primary purpose of the Fund for Latino Scholarship is to encourage and support the recruitment, retention and promotion of Latino/a political scientists. A secondary goal is to support research on Latino/a politics. The fund will award grants to initiatives that: 1) identify promising Latino/a undergraduates and encourage them to enter the profession of political science; 2) provide professional opportunities and financial assistance to Latino/a graduate students in political science programs; 3) support the teaching, research and publishing activities of junior-level, tenure track Latino/a political science faculty; and 4) support activities that advance our knowledge of Latino/a politics.