The doctoral degree in political science program is designed to prepare students for teaching and conducting research about government, careers in government and politics, and work in domestic and international nongovernmental organizations. The program allows students to combine their academic education with experience in the kinds of complex domestic and international political organizations they are studying. This model for political science education, patterned after the American Political Science Association's Congressional Fellows Program, is designed to foster scholarship and a firsthand understanding of domestic and international institutions such as think tanks, international bodies, nongovernmental organizations, journals of political opinion, and congressional and executive branch offices.

Admissions

Application Requirements

See Graduate Admission Policies for general information on graduate admission to George Mason University. See Schar Admissions for application requirements and deadlines for the PhD in Public Policy. Students are considered for admission for the Fall term only.

For students who have been admitted with a bachelor's degree, the Faculty Review Committee will review each student's progress after 30 credits of coursework to determine whether the student will be allowed to continue their work toward the PhD. For students entering the program with a master's degree, this review will occur after 12 credits in this program. Students who are not allowed to continue to work toward the PhD will be allowed to complete the MA degree.

Policies

For policies governing all graduate programs, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Academic Advising

A total of 12 credits of supporting courses may be taken in other departments to fulfill a minority of the credits for any of the requirements below, including the methodology requirement, with prior written approval of the program director. All courses should be planned with an advisor and appear on a program of study, which requires the approval of the program director.

A complete description of the program policies, procedures, and requirements is in the PhD student and faculty handbook, which is published annually.

Reduction of Credit

For students entering the program with a master's or MPA degree, the number of credits required for the doctorate may be reduced by up to 30 credits subject to approval of the doctoral program director.

Banner Code: PP-PHD-POS

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 72

Core Courses

Select three from the following:9
American Government and Politics
Policy, Politics, and American Government Institutions
Political Theory
Comparative Politics
International Relations
Seminar in Theories of Public Administration
Total Credits9

Advanced Courses in Two Major Fields

Students choose two major fields from the four fields below and complete all course requirements for both fields of study for a total of 21 credits. 

American Government and Politics

Required Field Seminars
Select two from the following:6
Seminar in the Courts and Constitutionalism
Seminar on Congress and Legislative Behavior
Seminar on the Presidency
Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations
Electives
Select one to three electives3-9
Total Credits9-15

Comparative Politics

Required Field Seminars
GOVT 631Seminar in Comparative Politics and Institutions3
GOVT 731Advanced Seminar in Comparative Politics3
Electives
Select one to three electives3-9
Total Credits9-15

International Relations

Required Field Seminars
Select two from the following:6
Advanced Seminar in International Politics
International Political Economy
International Security
Global Governance
Electives
Select one to three electives3-9
Total Credits9-15

Public Administration

Required Field Seminars
GOVT 753Collaborative Public Management3
GOVT 755Seminar in Politics and Bureaucracy3
Electives
Select one to three electives3-9
Total Credits9-15

Advanced Courses in a Minor Field

Select three advanced courses in a minor field in consultation with an advisor. 19
Total Credits9

Advanced Courses in Methodology

Methodology Courses
GOVT 500The Scientific Method and Research Design3
POGO 511Introductory Data Analysis for Policy and Government3
Elective Methodology Course
Select an elective methodology course to meet dissertation research needs. 13
Total Credits9

Electives

Select 0-12 credits of electives0-12
Total Credits0-12

Advancement to Candidacy

To advance to candidacy, students must complete all coursework required by their approved program of study. Students must also successfully complete and pass two comprehensive qualifying exams in major fields. In addition, students must have an approved dissertation committee and must present and successfully defend a dissertation proposal before advancing to candidacy.

Dissertation Research

Once enrolled in GOVT 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal, students in this degree program must maintain continuous registration in GOVT 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal or GOVT 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research each semester (excluding summers) until the dissertation is submitted to and accepted by the University Libraries. Once enrolled in GOVT 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research, students must follow the university's continuous registration policy as specified in AP.6.10.6 Dissertation Research. Students who defend in the summer must be registered for at least 1 credit of GOVT 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research.

Students may apply to this degree a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6 credits of GOVT 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal and a minimum of 6 credits of GOVT 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research. They apply a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 24 dissertation credits (GOVT 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal and GOVT 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research combined) to the degree. Because of the continuous registration policy, students may be required to register for additional credits of these courses.

Students who do fewer than 24 credits of dissertation will complete their degree with additional electives.

Select 12-24 credits from the following:12-24
Doctoral Dissertation Proposal (minimum of 3, maximum of 6 credits)
Doctoral Dissertation Research (minimum of 6 credits)
Total Credits12-24