Program Requirements

Doctoral students starting their programs September 2009 or later are required to declare two fields of study. The choices within each field are noted below. Returning PhD students (those who began their programs before September 2009) may opt to follow their current program or switch to the new requirements. By switching, students will be required to satisfy all requirements in the new program.

Field 1 choices:
  • Political Theory
  • Canadian Politics
  • International Relations
  • Comparative Politics
Field 2 choices:
  • Political Theory
  • Canadian Politics
  • International Relations
  • Comparative Politics
  • Development Studies
  • Public Policy

Satisfying Requirements

PhD students are required to complete all requirements noted below. The School of Graduate Studies requires that all students entering from the MA complete at least two full-credit equivalents (FCEs). Direct Entry (DE) students entering directly from the BA are required to complete at least six FCEs. Students may be required to take additional FCEs in order to satisfy program requirements. A course average of A- must be maintained in order to remain in the program. All requirements of the PhD program are noted below with a “time target” to show maximum time to completion of tasks.   Students entering the program with an MA are required to spend at least three sessions (or terms, the equivalent of one calendar year) in residence. Those entering from a BA are required to spend at least six sessions (or terms, the equivalent of two calendar years) in residence. To be “in residence” is to be on campus, or in such geographical proximity as to be able to participate fully in the university activities associated with the program. Being in residence provides you with the opportunity to become immersed in the intellectual environment of the university. Of course most students spend much longer than the minimum in residence and this, too, is encouraged. (Do not confuse this use of the term “in residence” with living in a university residence building.)

Field 1

The Field 1 Core Course and at least 1.0 other FCE in Field 1. (Field 1 Theory students may substitute an alternative FCE for the Core Course.)   Time target: Core course (or alternative for Political Theory) by the end of Year 1; remaining course requirements by the end of Year 2.

Field 2

Field 2 Core Course and at least one other 0.5 FCE in Field 2. If the Field 2 Core Course is 0.5 FCE and additional 1.0 FCE is required.  Theory students may substitute an alternative FCE for the Core Course.   Time target: All coursework by the end of Year 2.

Theory Requirement

One half course (0.5 FCE) in Political Theory. Field 1 Political Theory students are exempt.   Time Target: End of Year 2.

Qualitative Methods Requirement

One half course called Qualitative Methods in Political Research, POL2505H.   Time Target: End of Year 2.

Quantitative Methods Requirement

One half course (0.5 FCE) in quantitative methods. Field 1 Political Theory students are exempt.   Time Target: End of Year 2.

Theory Intensive Reading Course

One half course (0.5 FCE) Political Theory intensive reading course (indicated as “TIRC” on timetable) must be taken by all students who have selected political theory as one of their fields. All non-theory students are exempt.   Time Target: End of Year 2.

Field Examination in Field 1 and Field 2

Field Examinations are based on the Core Course in the field (with the exception of Political Theory). They may be an entirely written exam, but in some fields the written component may be accompanied by an oral examination. In most fields, the Field Examination extends somewhat beyond the material covered in the Core Course. Field Examinations are taken in May or August of the year in which the Core Course is taken. Normally, Field 1 exam will be taken by the end of Year 1 and Field 2 by the end of Year 2. The Field Examination in Political Theory is based on a list of texts made available to student in the Fall of each year. A student who fails to achieve an A- has the chance to take the examination one more time. The make-up exam must be taken at the next available sitting (August for a student whose first attempt was in May, December for a student whose first attempt was in August). Failure in the make-up exam means that the student may no longer continue in the doctoral program.   Requirement: Students must achieve a grade of at least A- in examinations in Field 1 and Field 2.   Time Target: Field 1 at the end of Year 1; Field 2 at the end of Year 1 or 2.

Thesis Committee

Students will normally select a supervisor and two regular committee members. All members of the committee must be full members of the Graduate Faculty and supervisors must hold the rank of Associate or Full Professor. By the end of Year 1, you should be thinking about candidates for your thesis committee. Between October and December of Year 2, you should confirm your supervisor and then work with them to add committee members during Year 2. Consult the Graduate Director if you need help. Time Target: End of Year 2.

Thesis Proposal

In Year 1, students should gather their thoughts and preliminary information on a thesis topic and begin speaking with professors about their ideas to help define the topic. Between October and December of Year 2, you should begin work towards a thesis proposal. See the PhD Dissertation Proposal page for more information. Time Target: Thesis Proposals must be approved by supervisory committee members by the end of Year 3.

Language Requirement

A PhD candidate must demonstrate a reading competence in a language other than English. This should be either French or another language useful or necessary in your scholarly work. You may take a suitable undergraduate course to meet the requirement so long as a grade of at least 70% is achieved. University-level courses at other institutions may also be used (with Departmental approval) to meet this requirement. Since the second language is to be used in thesis research, students should aim to satisfy the language requirement by the end of the second summer in the program, in the case of entrants from the MA, or the end of the third summer in the case of entrants from the BA. Time Target: End of Year 3.

Ethics Review

If human subjects will be used in the dissertation research, an ethics review must be approved through Research Services. Time Target: End of Year 3 and before research begins.

Candidacy Completion

The School of Graduate Studies requires all non-dissertation requirements be met by August 31st of Year 3. (DE students by August 31st of Year 4.) Students must apply formally to the Department and SGS for a candidacy extension if this deadline cannot be met. Time Target: End of Year 3. Extensions must be requested at the Graduate Office by mid-July of Year 3.

Dissertation

A thesis which has been approved at the departmental level and defended through the School of Graduate Studies. Time Target: August 31st of Year 5 or 6 for students entering with an MA, or August 31st of Year 6 or 7 for students entering directly from the BA.

Program Time Limit

Students entering the program from an MA should aim to complete within five years. The maximum degree length for these students is six years. DE students should aim to complete in six years. The maximum length for DE students is seven years. Students who are unable to complete their programs within the maximum degree length can apply to the Department and SGS for a program extension by mid-July of their final year.