Political Science

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Entrance to the Political Science graduate program occurs in the fall semester. Applications must be received by the department no later than January 15 for fall admission. However, the department will begin accepting applications as of September 1.

The Department of Political Science requires M.A. and Ph.D. program applicants to submit

  • official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended,
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores (verbal, quantitative, and analytical),
  • a statement of career plans and proposed emphasis in political science,
  • at least three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant's academic performance, and
  • a writing sample demonstrating research and/or analytical skills.

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. See GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

Students can be admitted to the master's degree program or, after passing a Ph.D. qualifying exam, can be admitted to the Ph.D. program with a master's degree.

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

Depending on the student's previous methodological training, 30 credits of course work, including an essay, are required for a master's degree. At least 18 credits must be at the 500 level. The course work includes:

Required Courses
PLSC 501Methods of Political Analysis3
PLSC 502Statistical Methods for Political Research3
PLSC 503Multivariate Analysis for Political Research3
12 credits in a primary field (including the survey seminar in the field)12
6 credits in a secondary field6
3 credits for the M.A. essay3
Total Credits30

Students also take a seminar on teaching and professional development in political science. There are no language requirements for the degree. Every master's student is required to pass an examination of their master's essay.

Credits earned at other institutions but not used to earn a degree may be applied toward the requirements for a graduate degree, subject to restrictions outlined in GCAC-309 Transfer Credit.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

The Department of Political Science requires a minimum total of 60 post-baccalaureate credits for the Ph.D. At least 45 credits, exclusive of the dissertation, must be in political science. Course work accepted for the M.A. in Political Science at Penn State will count toward the department's 60-credit requirement. In the case of students who have earned credits in an advanced degree program at another university or in another department at Penn State, a maximum of 30 credits may count toward the 60-credit departmental requirement.

In the case of transfer students, a maximum of 30 credits earned in an advanced degree program at another university or in another department at Penn State will count toward the 60-credit requirement.

The department requires that a student complete the designated "core" courses in methodology (PLSC 501, PLSC 502, and PLSC 503) and a seminar on teaching and professional development in political science. Ph.D. degree candidates must present three fields for the purposes of comprehensive examinations. The major and one of the minor fields must be selected from the department's recognized fields, and one of the minor fields may be outside political science. The major field requires a minimum of 15 credits; each minor field requires a minimum of 9 credits.

The communication and foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. may be satisfied by advanced course work and competence developed in foreign languages, statistics, or other research methods.

Dual-Titles  

Dual-Title Ph.D. in Political Science and African Studies

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Political Science doctoral students who have research and educational interests in comparative policy analyses, environmental change and livelihood systems, socio-economic and political change, and other aspects of African Studies may apply to the dual-title doctoral degree program in Political Science and African Studies. The goal of the program is to enable graduate students from Political Science to complement their knowledge and skills in a major area of specialization in Political Science with in-depth knowledge of prevailing theories on and problem-solving approaches to thematic, regional, or national issues pertaining to African development and change.

The dual-title doctoral degree program provides interested Political Science doctoral students with a multidisciplinary approach that enhances their analytical capabilities for addressing key issues in African development and adds value to their Political Science degree by increasing their competitiveness in the job market. The well-rounded, regional specialist who graduates from this program, is likely to be employed in an international setting. The program, therefore, enhances the reputation of the Political Science department, the College of the Liberal Arts, and Penn State.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in Political Science and the Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. Applicants interested in the dual-title degree program may make their interest in the program known clearly on their applications to Political Science and include remarks in their statement of purpose that address the ways in which their research and professional goals in political science reflect an interest in African Studies-related research. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the African Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the African Studies Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in African Studies prior to taking the qualifying examination in their primary graduate program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the degree they are enrolled in Political Science. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in African Studies, listed on the African Studies Bulletin page. Final course selection is determined by the student in consultation with the Political Science and African Studies academic advisers. Upon acceptance by the African Studies admissions committee, the student will be assigned an African Studies academic adviser in consultation with the African Studies director and the African Studies admissions committee. As a student develops specific scholarly interests, s/he may request a different African Studies adviser from the one assigned by the African Studies admissions committee. The student and Political Science and African Studies academic advisers are to establish a program of study that is appropriate for the student’s professional objectives and that is in accordance with the policies of the Graduate Council, the Political Science graduate program and the African Studies Program.

The Ph.D. in Political Science and African Studies is awarded to students who are admitted to the Political Science doctoral program and admitted subsequently into the dual-title degree in African Studies. The minimum course requirements for the dual-title Ph.D. degree in Political Science and African Studies are as follows. 

  • A minimum of 60 post-baccalaureate credits. Course work accepted for the M.A. in Political Science will count toward the 60-credit requirement. At least 45 credits, exclusive of dissertation research credits, must be in Political Science.
  • Completion of course work in two major fields (the first of which is a Political Science subfield as detailed in the Political Science graduate handbook, and the second of which is in African Studies) and one minor field (in a regular Political Science subfield). 
  • Completion of the designated core of courses in methodology (PLSC 501, PLSC 502, and PLSC 503).
  • Completion of two 1.5-credit seminars on teaching, writing, and professional development in Political Science. 
  • Completion of introductory field seminars appropriate to one’s two political science fields of study. 
  • AFR 501 (3) 
  • 15 credits of Africa-related course work at the 400 or 500-level; minimum of 3 of these credits must be taken from a list of courses maintained by the African Studies program chair.
  • As many as 6 of the 15 credits may come from Political Science, as approved by the student’s Political Science and African Studies Program academic advisers. 
  • The remaining credits can be taken in AFR or in any department other than Political Science. Of these, no more than 6 credits may be taken at the 400- level and no more than 3 combined credits may come from 596 and 599 listings. 
  • Communication and foreign language requirements, which will be determined by the student, the Political Science and African Studies Program advisers in accordance with the existing Political Science language requirements.
Foreign Language/Research Skills Competency Requirement

The language requirement for a student in the dual-title doctoral degree program will be determined by the student and the Political Science and African Studies program advisers in accordance with the existing Political Science language requirements. The Political Science Foreign Language/Research Skills Competency Requirement, contained in the Political Science Graduate Handbook, indicates that doctoral students must satisfy one of the following four criteria to demonstrate proficiency in foreign language and/or research skills:

  1. Reading proficiency and translation skills in two foreign languages. Proficiency is certified by the School of Languages and Literatures at Penn State. The School’s website details the procedures that students must follow to obtain certification.
  2. Superior command of one foreign language. Superior command is defined as the ability to use the language to conduct field research abroad. This may include the ability to live and work in the relevant foreign country; the ability to converse with librarians, government officials, and other gatekeepers of documents and information; and the ability to conduct interviews with citizens or officials. There is no single test or criterion for demonstrating superior command of a foreign language. Rather, the student must provide to the Ph.D. committee letters from language instructors, faculty who have conducted fieldwork in the language in question, and similar documents so that its members can determine if the language skill is sufficient given the student’s specialization and subfield.
  3. Reading and translation proficiency in one foreign language plus a grade of B or higher in an advanced statistics course (i.e., material beyond that covered in PLSC 503) which has been approved by the student’s doctoral adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies.
  4. A statistical methods specialization consisting of three advanced statistics courses (each covering material beyond what is covered in PLSC 503). Students must receive a grade of B or higher in each class. The selection of courses must be approved by the student's doctoral adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies. These advanced courses may overlap with the advanced courses used if methodology is chosen as the student’s first or second minor field.
Qualifying Exam

The dual-title degree will be guided by the qualifying exam procedure of the Political Science graduate program. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable. There will be a single qualifying examination, containing elements of both Political Science and African Studies.

The qualifying examination committee for the dual-title degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from Political Science and at least one Graduate Faculty member from the African Studies Program. The designated dual-title faculty member may be appointed from Political Science if that person holds a formal appointment with the African Studies program.

Ph.D. committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of a Political Science and African Studies dual-title doctoral degree student must include at least one member of the African Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. The African Studies representative to the committee may serve as the Outside Field Member, and may also serve as the Outside Unit Member, if his or her primary appointment is in an administrative unit outside the unit in which the dissertation adviser's primary appointment is held.

If the chair of the committee representing Political Science is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in African Studies, the member of the committee representing African Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exam

After completing all course work, doctoral students in the dual-title doctoral degree program in Political Science and African Studies must pass a comprehensive examination that includes written and oral components. Written components will be administered on the student’s major Political Science subfield and African Studies. The African Studies representative on the student’s Ph.D. committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination. The African Studies component of the exam will be based on the student’s thematic, national, or regional area of interest and specialization in African Studies.

Dissertation and Dissertation Defense

Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. Students enrolled in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that reflects their original research and education in Political Science and African Studies. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Dual-Title Ph.D. in Political Science and Asian Studies

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Graduate students with research and educational interests in Asian studies may apply to the dual-title doctoral degree program in Political Science and Asian Studies. The goal of the dual-title degree in Political Science and Asian Studies is to enable graduate students from Political Science to acquire the knowledge and skills of their major area of specialization in Political Science while at the same time gaining the perspective of Asian Studies.

In order to prepare graduate students for the competitive job market, this program provides them with a solid disciplinary foundation that will allow them to compete for the best jobs in their field. For such students the dual-title Ph.D. in Political Science and Asian Studies will add value to their degree and their status as candidates. It will produce excellent political scientists who are experts in Asian Studies as well. The dual-title degree Political Science and Asian Studies will build curricular bridges beyond the student's major field so as to provide a unique training regime for the global scholar.

Admission Requirements

For admission to the dual-title Ph.D. program, a student must first apply and be admitted to the Political Science graduate program and the Graduate School. After admission to the Political Science graduate program, a student must then apply for admission to the Asian Studies Program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Asian Studies Bulletin page. Students already in their first and second years of the Political Science graduate program may also apply to the dual-title program. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Asian Studies prior to taking the qualifying examination in their primary graduate program.

In addition to the requirements of the Graduate School and Political Science, applicants interested in the dual-title program should also make their interest in the dual-title program known clearly on their applications and include remarks in their statement of purpose that address the ways in which their research and professional goals reflect an interest in interdisciplinary and Asian Studies-related research.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for an Asian Studies degree, students must satisfy the requirements of the Political Science program in which they are primarily enrolled. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in Asian Studies, listed on the Asian Studies Bulletin page. Within this framework, final course selection is determined by the student, their Asian Studies adviser, and their Political Science program adviser.

Upon a student's acceptance by the Asian Studies admissions committee, the student will be assigned an Asian Studies academic adviser in consultation with the Asian Studies chair. As students develop specific scholarly interests, they may request that a different Asian Studies faculty member serve as their adviser. The student and adviser will discuss a program of study that is appropriate for the student's professional objectives and that is in accord with the policies of the Graduate School, the Political Science department and the Asian Studies program.

The doctoral degree in Political Science and Asian Studies is awarded only to students who are admitted to the Political Science doctoral program and admitted to the dual-title Ph.D. degree in Asian Studies. The minimum course requirements for the dual-title Ph.D. degree in Political Science and Asian Studies are as follows:

  • A minimum total of 60 postbaccalaureate credits. Course work accepted for the M.A. in Political Science will count toward the 60-credit requirement. At least 45 credits, exclusive of dissertation, must be in political science.
  • Completion of course work in two major fields (the first of which is a political science sub field as detailed in the Political Science graduate handbook, and the second of which is Asia-related) and one minor field (in a regular political science subfield).
  • Completion of the designated core of courses in methodology (PLSC 501, PLSC 502, and PLSC 503).
  • Completion of two, 1.5 credit seminars on teaching, writing, and professional development in political science.
  • Completion of introductory field seminars appropriate to one's three fields of study.
  • 15 credits of Asia-related course work at the 400 or 500 level. At least 6 of these 15 credits will be from ASIA 501 and ASIA 502. As many as 6 may come from Political Science, as approved by the student's doctoral adviser and the Asian Studies Program director of graduate studies. The remaining 3 credits can be taken in ASIA or in any department other than Political Science.
  • All-skills proficiency in one Asian Language AND two years' college study (or equivalent knowledge) of another Asian language OR alternative proficiency appropriate to the student's field.

Particular courses may satisfy both the Political Science requirements and those of the Asian Studies program. Final course selection is determined by the student in consultation with their dual-title program advisers and their major program advisers.

Language Requirement

Students must show all-skills proficiency in one Asian language. All-skills proficiency in a foreign language can be assessed through the following mechanisms:

  1. native speaker status,
  2. completion of graduate-level research using the foreign language,
  3. study abroad, and
  4. independent study or examination.

All final determinations of all-skills proficiency will be made by a student’s Asian Studies doctoral adviser in consultation with the Asian Studies Director of Graduate Studies.

In addition to demonstrating all-skills proficiency in one Asian language, a student must also:

  • Complete two years’ college study (or equivalent knowledge) of another Asian language OR
  • Achieve alternative proficiency appropriate to the student’s field.
Qualifying Exam

The dual-title degree will be guided by the qualifying exam procedure of the Political Science graduate program. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable. There will be a single qualifying examination, containing elements of both Political Science and Asian Studies.

The qualifying examination committee for the dual-title degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from Political Science and at least one Graduate Faculty member from the Asian Studies Program. The designated dual-title faculty member may be appointed from Political Science if that person holds a formal appointment with the Asian Studies program.

Ph.D. committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of a Political Science and Asian Studies dual-title doctoral degree student must include at least one member of the Asian Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. The Asian Studies representative to the committee may serve as the Outside Field Member, and may also serve as the Outside Unit Member, if his or her primary appointment is in an administrative unit outside the unit in which the dissertation adviser's primary appointment is held.

If the chair of the committee representing Political Science is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Asian Studies, the member of the committee representing Asian Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exam

After completing all course work, doctoral students in the dual-title doctoral degree program in Political Science and Asian Studies must pass a comprehensive examination that includes written and oral components. Written components will be administered on the student’s major Political Science subfield and Asian Studies. The Asian Studies representative on the student’s Ph.D. committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination.

Dissertation and Dissertation Defense

Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. Students enrolled in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that reflects their original research and education in Political Science and Asian Studies. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Dual-Title Ph.D. in Political Science and Social Data Analytics

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Political Science doctoral students seeking to attain and be identified with an interdisciplinary array of tools, techniques, and methodologies for social data analytics, while maintaining a close association with political science, may apply to pursue a dual-title Ph.D. in Political Science and Social Data Analytics.

Social data analytics is the integration of social scientific, computational, informational, statistical, and visual analytic approaches to the analysis of large or complex data that arise from human interaction. The dual-title Ph.D. aims to enable scientists who expand the capability of social data analytics, and use those capabilities creatively to answer important social scientific questions and to address grand social challenges, in both academic and nonacademic settings.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in Political Science and the Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. Applicants interested in the dual-title degree program may make their interest in the program known clearly on their applications to Political Science and include remarks in their statement of purpose that address the ways in which their research and professional goals in political science reflect an expanded interest in Social Data Analytics-related research. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Social Data Analytics dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Social Data Analytics Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Social Data Analytics prior to taking the qualifying examination in their primary graduate program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the requirements of the Ph.D in Political Science. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in Social Data Analytics, listed on the Social Data Analytics Bulletin page. Within this framework, final course selection is determined by the student in consultation with academic advisers from their primary graduate program adviser and Social Data Analytics.

The minimum course work requirements for the dual-title Ph.D. in Political Science and Social Data Analytics are as follows:

  • Course work and other requirements of the Ph.D. in Political Science.
  • SODA 501 (3 credits)
  • SODA 502 (3 credits)
  • 12 or more elective credits in Social Data Analytics from a list of courses maintained by the Social Data Analytics Committee. Collectively the elective credits must satisfy the following requirements:
    • (A) Core analytics distribution. 3 or more credits in courses focused on statistical learning, machine learning, data mining, or visual analytics. Courses approved as meeting this requirement are designated (A) on the list of approved electives.
    • (Q) Quantification distribution. 6 or more credits in courses focused on statistical inference or quantitative social science methodology. Courses approved as meeting this requirement are designated (Q) on the list of approved electives. (A Political Science Ph.D. student would typically satisfy this distribution requirement as a function of completing the requirements of the Political Science Ph.D.)
    • (C) Computational / informational distribution. 6 or more credits in courses focused on computation, collection, management, processing, or interaction with electronic data, especially at scale. Courses approved as meeting this requirement are designated (C) on the list of approved electives.
    • (S) Social distribution. 6 or more credits in courses with substantial content on the nature of human interaction and/or the analysis of data derived from human interaction and/or the social context or ethics or social consequences of social data analytics. Courses approved as meeting this requirement are designated (S) on the list of approved electives. (A Political Science Ph.D. student would typically satisfy this distribution requirement as a function of completing the requirements of the Political Science Ph.D.)
    • Cross-departmental distribution.
      • 3 or more credits in approved courses with the prefix STAT or that of a primarily social science department. (A Political Science Ph.D. student would typically satisfy this distribution requirement as a function of completing the requirements of the Political Science Ph.D.)
      • 3 or more credits in approved courses with the prefix IST, GEOG, or that of a primarily computer science or engineering department.
      • 6 or more credits in approved courses outside Political Science.
      • 3 or fewer credits in approved courses at the 400-level.

Students or faculty may request that the Social Data Analytics Committee consider approval of elective designations for any course, including temporary approvals for experimental or variable-title courses. Students are encouraged to take interdisciplinary courses that carry multiple (A), (Q), (C), (S) designations, as well as to select SODA electives that also meet requirements of the primary program. In particular, the 12 elective credits can be met with as few as 6 credits of appropriately chosen course work. Within this framework, final course selection is determined by the student in consultation with academic advisers from Political Science and Social Data Analytics. There is no formal maximum number of credits from the primary PLSC degree that can be double-counted toward the SODA degree. For those meeting the SODA elective requirement with the minimum of 12 credits, the outside-program minimum effectively limits the number of primary degree PLSC credits that count toward SODA at 6. Advising committees may limit the number of credits taken for the SODA dual-title that can count toward home degree requirements.

Qualifying Committee and Exam

The qualifying examination committee will be composed in accordance with rules of the Political Science Ph.D. and will include at least one Graduate Faculty member from the Social Data Analytics Program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role.

The dual-title degree will be guided by the qualifying exam procedure of the Political Science graduate program. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable. There will be a single qualifying examination, containing elements of both Political Science and Social Data Analytics.

The Social Data Analytics Program maintains a list of recommended background and skills that it recommends students have in place by the time they begin the interdisciplinary course work required to complete the Social Data Analytics degree. The qualifying exam is the appropriate setting for assessing the student’s preparation for the interdisciplinary work of the dual-title Ph.D. in Political Science and Social Data Analytics.

Ph.D. committee Composition

The Ph.D. committee must conform to all requirements of the primary program and the Graduate Council. In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of a Political Science and Social Data Analytics dual-title doctoral degree student must include at least one member of the Social Data Analytics Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. The Social Data Analytics representative to the committee may serve as the Outside Field Member, and may also serve as the Outside Unit Member, if his or her primary appointment is in an administrative unit outside the unit in which the dissertation adviser's primary appointment is held.

If the chair of the committee representing Political Science is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Social Data Analytics, the member of the committee representing Social Data Analytics must be appointed as co-chair. The ideal arrangement then, is for a member of the Social Data Analytics Graduate Faculty with primary appointment in Political Science to act as dissertation chair, and for a member of the Social Data Analytics Graduate Faculty with primary appointment outside the administrative unit of the primary program to act as both Outside Field Member and Outside Unit Member.

Comprehensive Exam

After completing all course work, doctoral students in the dual-title doctoral degree program in Political Science and Social Data Analytics must pass a comprehensive examination that includes written and oral components.

Written components will be administered on a candidate’s major Political Science subfield and Social Data Analytics (acting as a first minor field). The Social Data Analytics representative(s) on the student’s Ph.D. committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination.

The oral component of the comprehensive involves the defense of a dissertation prospectus, which must contain substantial Social Data Analytics content.

Dissertation and Dissertation Defense

Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. Students enrolled in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that reflects their original research and education in Political Science and Social Data Analytics. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Dual-Title M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Graduate students with research and teaching interests in gender and politics may apply to the dual-title master's or doctoral degree program in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The goal of the dual-title graduate degree program in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is to enable graduate students from Political Science to acquire the knowledge and skills of their major area of specialization in Political Science while at the same time gaining the perspective of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

In order to prepare graduate students for the competitive job market, this program provides them with a solid disciplinary foundation that will allow them to compete for the best jobs in their field. For such students the dual-title graduate degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies will add value to their degree and their status as candidates. It will produce excellent political scientists who are experts in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as well. The dual-title graduate degree in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies will build curricular bridges beyond the student's major field so as to provide unique training for the interdisciplinary scholar.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in Political Science and the Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies prior to taking the qualifying examination in their primary graduate program.

Dual-Title Master of Arts (M.A.)

Required Courses
12 credits in Major Political Science field (including proseminar)12
PLSC 501Methods of Political Analysis3
PLSC 502Statistical Methods for Political Research3
WMNST 501Feminist Perspectives on Research and Teaching Across the Disciplines3
WMNST 502Global Perspectives on Feminism3
WMNST 507Feminist Theory3
Electives
Select 3 elective credits in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies approved courses (may double count if in political science field)3
Culminating Experience
Oral Exam 1
MA Essay 1
Total Credits30

Of these requirements, at least 21 credits must be at the 500 level. In addition there is a 6-credit maximum for independent study and a 10-credit maximum for transfer credits,  subject to restrictions outlined in GCAC-309 Transfer Credit. The student is expected to conduct research for the M.A. essay on a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies topic.

For the dual-title Master of Arts degree in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the student's committee will include at least one Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies-affiliated faculty member.

Dual-Title Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The Department of Political Science requires a minimum total of 60 postbaccalaureate credits for the Ph.D. At least 45 credits, exclusive of the dissertation, must be in political science. Course work accepted for the M.A. in Political Science at Penn State will count toward the department’s 60-credit requirement. In the case of students who have earned credits in an advanced degree program at another university or in another department at Penn State, a maximum of 30 credits may count toward the 60-credit departmental requirement.

Required Courses
15 credits in major political science field (including proseminar) 15
9 credits in 2nd minor political science field9
PLSC 501Methods of Political Analysis3
PLSC 502Statistical Methods for Political Research3
PLSC 503Multivariate Analysis for Political Research3
WMNST 501Feminist Perspectives on Research and Teaching Across the Disciplines3
WMNST 502Global Perspectives on Feminism3
WMNST 507Feminist Theory3
Electives
9 elective credits in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies approved courses (may double count if in political science field)9
Ph.D. qualifying exam in major political science field
Portfolio of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies work
Total Credits51

Of these requirements at least 51 credits must be at the 500 level. In addition there is a 12-credit maximum for independent study.

Qualifying Examination Committee Composition

The qualifying examination committee for the dual-title degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from Political Science and at least one Graduate Faculty member from the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. The designated dual-title faculty member may be appointed from Political Science if that person holds a formal appointment with the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program.

Qualifying Exam

There will be a single qualifying examination, containing elements of both Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

Ph.D. committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of a Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least two members of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies representative to the committee may serve as the Outside Field Member, and may also serve as the Outside Unit Member, if his or her primary appointment is in an administrative unit outside the unit in which the dissertation adviser's primary appointment is held.

If the chair of the committee representing Political Science is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the member of the committee representing Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exam

After completion of required course work, doctoral students in the dual-title doctoral degree program must pass a comprehensive examination. The dual-title faculty representative on the student’s Ph.D. committee will participate in the writing and evaluation of the examination.

Dissertation and Dissertation Defense

Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. Students enrolled in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that reflects their original research and education in their home discipline and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Students must pass the Ph.D. qualifying and comprehensive exams and have their dissertation proposal approved as specified in the Department of Political Science Graduate Student Handbook.

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School’s website. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set by The Graduate School.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Political Science (PLSC) Course List

Learning Outcomes

  1. Graduates will demonstrate command of contemporary relevant theories and debates in the discipline of Political Science and in their specific Political Science subfields of focus.
  2. Graduates will demonstrate mastery of relevant literatures and cumulative knowledge in the discipline of Political Science and in their specific Political Science subfields of focus.
  3. Graduates will demonstrate competence in the design and conduct of Political Science research.
  4. Graduates will devise and execute independent original scholarly research projects relevant to the discipline of Political Science and in their specific Political Science subfields of focus.
  5. Graduates will demonstrate competency in presenting their scholarly output in written and oral formats that meet standards and conventions in the discipline of Political Science and in their specific Political Science subfields of focus.
  6. Graduates will demonstrate knowledge of the professional norm, standards and ethics the discipline of Political Science.

Contact

Campus University Park
Graduate Program Head Lee Ann Banaszak
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) Glenn Hunter Palmer
Program Contact

Kristy Michelle Boob
203 Pond Lab
University Park PA 16802
kmc248@psu.edu
(814) 863-1595

Program Website View