Learning the field of Comparative Politics requires successful completion of a number of substantive courses as well as significant additional reading outside of these courses. Under ordinary circumstances, students majoring in Comparative Politics should complete at least four courses during their first four semesters; students minoring in the field should complete at least three courses during this time. Students will then sit for their Qualifying Exams in the August following their second year in the program.

Students who are pursuing advanced language training that is pertinent to their field of study may request modifications of this schedule. Changes for this or any other reason must be approved in writing by the Graduate Director.

Course Work

PSC 671, Comparative Political Analysis, is the core course.

Additional courses include:

  • PSC 600: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – Religion, IR, and the Media
  • PSC 681: Comparative State, Society Relations
  • PSC 682: Social Theory and Middle East Politics
  • PSC 700: Civil War
  • PSC 700: Political Economy of Development
  • PSC 700: Political Economy of Institutions
  • PSC 704: Comparative Political Economy
  • PSC 712: Public Opinion and Communications
  • PSC 754: International Conflict & Peace
  • PSC 756: Politics of the European Union
  • PSC 758: Global Migration
  • PSC 768: Comparative Law, Courts, and Human Rights
  • PSC 769: Comparative Parties and Politics
  • PSC 780: Ethnic Politics
  • PSC 780: Latin American Politics
  • PSC 781: Politics of the Developing World
  • PSC 782: Politics of China
  • PSC 783: Comparative Foreign Policy
  • PSC 784: Comparative Social Movements
  • PSC 785: Comparative Civil-Military Relations
  • PSC 786: Russian and Post-Soviet Politics
  • PSC 787: Democracy and Democratization
  • PSC 788: Political Leadership

Qualifying Examinations

Two faculty members in each field coordinate the written examination by contributing questions themselves and soliciting questions from other faculty. Faculty in other departments may be asked for questions if a student has listed their course(s) as relevant to either of their major or minor field concentrations. All relevant faculty will receive a copy of students’ answers and are encouraged to submit written comments. Students take the written exams over two days in one week. The exams are taken in a department-specified computer lab and is closed note/book (no books, computer files, internet, etc.) except for one note sheet. 

For Comparative Politics, major students will answer one general question that crosses subfields and two specific questions. Minor students will answer one general and one specific question. Students will use the syllabus for PSC 671 as the starting point for the exam (there is not a separate reading list).

Following the written exam is the oral exam – which includes field coordinators from students’ major and minor fields as well as a student-selected chair. Oral exams are generally scheduled within 30 days of students’ completion of both written exams and typically last 2 hours. Upon completion of the oral exam, the advisor will notify the Graduate Director in writing that the student has passed with distinction, passed, or failed. In the latter case, the student may retake the exam during the following semester. This option may only be exercised once. Students attain ABD (All But Dissertation) status after passing their qualifying exams, completing all coursework, and defending their dissertation proposal.

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