PhD Program Requirements

Doctoral students are required to declare two fields of study. The choices within each field are noted below.

Field 1 choices:
  • Political Theory
  • Canadian Politics
  • International Relations
  • Comparative Politics
  • Public Policy
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. Most students spend much longer than the minimum in residence and this, too, is encouraged. (The term “in residence” should not be confused with living in a university residence building.)

Field 1

Field 1 Core Courses (1.0 FCE) and 1.0 FCE in Field 1. Time target: Core courses by the end of Year 1. Remaining field 1 courses by the end of Year 2.

Field 2

Field 2 Core Courses (1 FCE) and 0.5 FCE in Field 2. Exception: If the Field 2 Core Course is 0.5 FCE and additional 1.0 FCE is required. Time target: End of Year 2.

Theory Requirement

One half course 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, POL 2505H. Time Target: End of Year 2.

Quantitative Methods Requirement

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

Theory Intensive Reading Course

One half course 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 primarily based on Core Course content. 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 Courses are taken. The Field 1 exam will normally be taken in Year 1 and Field 2 in Year 2. A student who fails to achieve an A- may re-take the examination. 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 2.

Supervisory 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. The supervisor and at least one regular committee members must hold an appointment in the Department of Political Science. By the end of Year 1, students should be considering thesis committee candidates. By December of Year 2, students should confirm a supervisor who can then offer guidance on selecting regular 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 DE students.

Program Time Limit

Students entering the program from an MA should aim to complete within five years (maximum degree length is six years). Direct-entry students should aim to complete in six years (maximum length 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.