PhD Program

About Us

The PhD program is a full time program. It is designed to train the next generation of top professors and policymakers in Canada. We offer a strong, research-intensive curriculum with a focus on giving our students the very best training in quantitative and qualitative methods in the country. Rather than admitting students based on their potential fit with a supervisor, we try to admit only the most promising students and encourage them to develop their research interests, identify gaps in the literature, diversify their theoretical knowledge, and acquire a broad range of quantitative and qualitative methodological tools to publish in the very best journals in their fields.

Our overarching philosophy is built around mentorship. We take seriously the need to help students figure out how to publish and we want them to finish our program with a strong publication record so they are highly competitive for the job market. To these ends, we offer students: research assistantships, co-authorship opportunities, the opportunity to develop publishable papers in our courses and during the summer publishing workshop, and the opportunity to present papers internally for feedback prior to conference presentations and submissions to a journal. We provide professional development workshops that teach the "ins and outs" of being a political scientist, and we provide support through highly competitive funding packages and special funds to subsidize costs related to data collection, additional methods training, and conferences. Students are also given opportunities to co-teach or teach their own course in hopes of building up their teaching experience and CV.

You do not need to contact or obtain a supervisor before applying to the program. The minimum requirement for admission is an MA in Political Science with superior standing and a statement of research interest that demonstrates your potential for success as a PhD student in our program. We want students who are committed to being challenged and are willing to learn new topics, theories, and methods. While you are welcome to identify potential supervisors in your application, you are not required to.  Choosing a supervisor occurs after you have entered the program, completed your coursework, and attended departmental seminars and workshops.  

Please note:  We are temporarily not accepting applications for PhD students wishng to specialize in the International Relations field in the 2024-25 admissions cycle.

Our Graduates

Our doctoral students are active members of the department and the political science community, publishing articles in American Political Science Review, Canadian Public Administration, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, GovernanceInternational Studies Perspective, Party PoliticsPolitics, Groups and Identities, Representation, Res Publica, and The International Indigenous Policy Journal.

They have presented papers at the annual meetings of the Canadian Political Science Association, the International Studies Association, and the American Political Science Association, to name a few. They have also attended or served as teaching assistants at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the Laurier Summer Institute of Research Methods, and the Workshops on Social Science Research (WSSR).

Our graduates have secured academic positions at Carleton University, Durham UniversityThe University of Manitoba, The University of Saskatchewan, and The University of Winnipeg, as well as prominent positions in the public and private sectors. 

PhD Program Progression Requirements

Doctor of Philosophy diploma

In order to progress through the PhD program, students must fulfill the following requirements:

  • 13 half courses in the first and second year including:
    • 9502A, 9590A, 9591B*, 9593B (required PhD courses)
    • 9 elective courses (must include at least 2 of the following core Political Science courses: Political Theory, International Relations, Canadian Politics, Urban Political Economy, Comparative Politics) (9592A recommended);
  • Mandatory Publishing Workshop in the summer of the first year;
  • Comprehensive exams in the summer of the second year (view guidelines in the graduate handbook);
  • Thesis proposal completed in the third year;
  • PhD thesis. 

The PhD thesis is a major piece of research and writing on a subject chosen by the candidate and approved by the department. It is undertaken under the supervision of a faculty member in the department, with the assistance of a committee. We encourage students to not only rely heavily on their supervisory committee during their PhD, but also to draw on the collective expertise of the entire faculty. As a department, we believe that student success requires the entire department to work together to support our students, and we encourage our PhD students to get to know all faculty members and draw on their expertise and advice throughout their degree.

*Students who will be completing a Political Theory Thesis are exempt from having to take 9591B but still must take a total of 13 courses.

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