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Ph.D. Program

The Doctor of Philosophy degree is designed primarily to equip individuals to engage in academic teaching and research. Those who hold the Ph.D. in Political Science are able to comprehend the current literature, to discover the linkages between various areas of research, and to contribute to the body of knowledge constituting Political Science. Usually, individuals with a Ph.D. teach in colleges and universities. Those with a Ph.D. also will find opportunities in other areas of government, as well as in the private sector.

Degree Requirements

Doctoral students admitted to the program must complete 72 hours beyond the bachelor's degree, including 24 hours of course work beyond the master's degree, graded A-F, must successfully pass a written comprehensive examination in one broad field of political science (American Government and Politics; public administration; comparative government and politics; or international relations), must complete one cross-field concentration (in methodology, public policy, or political economy), and must pass a final oral examination on the dissertation.

In addition, students must satisfy a research tool requirement. Usually, students meet this requirement by completing 12 hours of course work numbered above 500 in empirical theory and research methodology. However, if a student's advisor and program committee certify that competency in a foreign language is a more appropriate research tool, a foreign language can be used instead.

In addition to the total hours required for the degree, the following requirements must also be met.

  • At least 60 hours must be in political science courses numbered above 500. 
  • Completion of POLS 510, 511 and 513. 
  • Completion of at least three courses or seminars at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in the field in which the students take the comprehensive examination. 
  • Completion of at least three courses or seminars at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in the cross-field concentration. 
  • At least 6 hours must be earned in political science courses numbered above 600. 
  • A total of 24 hours must be earned by writing the dissertation.

For a Guide to Maintaining Progress toward a Ph.D., click here.


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