Political Science, PhD

Program Category: PhD Programs
Chair: Justin Phillips
Director of Graduate Studies: Kimuli Kasara
Website: polisci.columbia.edu
Degree Programs: Full-Time: MA, MPhil, PhD

The department is organized into four major subfields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. Students select a major and minor field from among these, or they may minor in economics or research methods. All students in the department must fulfill a requirement in statistical, mathematical, and analytical methods.

Study in American politics centers on political behavior, rational choice institutionalism, and historical institutionalism. Many American politics students choose research methods as their second field. Students majoring in comparative politics study theoretical and historical issues such as ethnicity and nationalism, political participation and culture in democratic and authoritarian regimes, transitions and consolidation of newly democratic regimes, and formal approaches to the design and comparison of institutions. Students in the field of international relations, under the guidance of the faculty, study a wide range of subjects from NGOs and other non-state actors to the role of domestic politics and the international system, using a similarly broad range of methodologies including interpretivist approaches to case studies, statistical analysis, and mathematical models. The political theory faculty comprise one of the most distinguished groups of theorists to be found anywhere, having made leading contributions to the areas of normative political philosophy, constitutional issues and constitution-making processes, democratic theory, political psychology, the methodology of political inquiry, and the history of political thought.

Fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. Teaching and research experience are considered an important aspect of the training of doctoral students. Thus, fellowships for students in the PhD program include some teaching and research apprenticeship.

Political science students regularly participate in the activities of Columbia's regional institutes and research centers such as the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, the Earth Institute, the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, the Center for International Conflict Resolution, and the Arnold Saltzman Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracies.

The department is actively involved in the university-wide Columbia Public Policy Consortium, an interdisciplinary program that supports graduate teaching and doctoral research in public policy.

Recent graduates of the PhD program have obtained teaching positions at colleges and universities throughout the US and abroad, as well as research and staff positions in government and in organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Asia Society, the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, and the International Monetary Fund.

Special Admissions Requirements 

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a personal statement, and three letters of evaluation from academic sources.

Application Requirements

*GSAS will accept up to four recommendations, regardless of the number required by your program of interest. However, to be eligible for admission at GSAS, at least TWO letters must be submitted by academic recommenders.