Ph.D. Program Requirements

Residence and Course Loads

The graduate program will require a minimum of [6] quarters in residence at UCSC preceding the qualifying examination.

Before Advancing to Candidacy (ATC), students will be expected to enroll in [10] course credits per quarter to be considered full-time.

  • Advance to Candidacy students only need to enroll in [5] course credits to be considered full-time.

Language and Research Methods

Each candidate shall develop with his or her adviser language and method requirements appropriate to the student's project, graduate education, and career goals.

  • These specific requirements are subject to approval by the student's adviser.

As an example, if a student's research were to employ ethnographic methods, training in languages as well as coursework in qualitative and/or quantitative methodology would be expected.

For a different kind of project, quantitative methods might appear more salient, mandating coursework in statistical analysis, survey research techniques, and related subjects.

Progress Towards the Degree

Our program is intended to lead to a Ph.D. in Politics. All curricular requirements are aimed at preparing students for timely and successful completion of a doctoral dissertation.

The graduate curriculum in Politics includes [6] components:

  1. [3] 'Core Seminars' and the 'Logics of Inquiry' [POLI 201] seminar;
  2. [8] other graduate-level courses
    • At least [5] of which must be politics courses,
    • Along with further training (as appropriate, in languages and methodology);
  3. Teaching assistant (TA) seminars and graduate colloquia;
  4. A qualifying examination consisting of written and oral parts;
  5. The research and writing of the dissertation; and
  6. It's oral defense. 


Required Core Seminars: Over the course of their first [2] years in residence, students are required to take [3] core seminars that correspond to the areas of emphasis outlined in the Program Description.

  • These required seminars are offered in alternating years.
  • The core seminars provide a broad foundation for research in politics and offer structured opportunities to foster a community of scholarship within the program.

Logics of Inquiry: The department also recognizes the importance of informed and critically engaged methodology.

  • As a required course, The Logics of Inquiry investigates approaches to the study of politics and to the enterprise of social science in general.
  • In the course, positivist, interpretive, historical, and critical approaches provide examples that are held up to critical and epistemological reflection

Additional Courses: Prior to the qualifying exam (normally taken between the 7th-9th quarter of residence), a minimum of [5] additional politics graduate courses taught by the politics department or affiliated graduate faculty must be completed.

  • [3] other graduate-level courses are also required -- some of which may be offered by faculty outside politics.
  • In consultation with a student's committee, other courses or independent studies will be added to the list of courses required for the student in question (language courses, courses in statistics or research techniques, study in extra-disciplinary historical and cultural fields, and others).

Graduate seminars are open to all politics graduate students and to qualified graduate students from other disciplines.

TA Seminar and Professional Development: All students who are teaching assistants will be required to complete a year-long Politics TA workshop series led by current and former Politics TAs.

  • All graduate students will also be expected to attend twice-quarterly professional development workshops on topics such as developing CVs, academic and non-academic career options, teaching development, job market navigation, and more.

Politics Qualifying Examination:

The qualifying examination (QE) is required of all PhD students and is intended to demonstrate a student’s knowledge and competence in at least [2] of the program’s [4] areas of emphasis.

  • The timeline for the QE process provides the student with a full year of research and writing without the obligation of teaching outside the university, thus motivating completion of the dissertation in a timely and reasonable manner.
  • It also ensures that students will be in excellent shape to apply for intra- and extra-mural funding opportunities to do fieldwork and attain additional research support in their 4th and 5th years.
  • Under this arrangement, students are expected to complete the dissertation in [5-6] years.


The dissertation committee must be composed of at least [3] professors, [2] of whom (including the chair) must be members of the Politics faculty.

  • The dissertation committee is selected by the student and approved by the graduate assistant and the Graduate Council.
  • The dissertation committee need not be the same as the QE committee.
  • The Chair of the [2] committees can be the same professor.

Progress on the dissertation: Upon completion and approval of the prospectus, the student may begin formal work on the dissertation, with the assistance and oversight of the dissertation committee.

  • At the end of each academic year, whether the student is in residence at UCSC or not, she/he will file a statement of progress with the dissertation committee

You must either be a registered student or on Filing Fee during the quarter in which your degree is to be conferred.

  • In order to be eligible for the one-time filing fee, a student must have been either on an approved leave of absence or registered in the previous quarter.

Dissertation defense: Upon completion, the student will be asked to defend her/his dissertation before the dissertation committee.

  • The completed dissertation must receive the signed approval of the dissertation committee and must be filed with the Graduate Division.

If the Ph.D. degree is not awarded within (7) years from the date of Advancement to Candidacy: the student's candidacy shall lapse and the student will be required to pass a new qualifying exam prior to submitting the dissertation or undergo such other formal review as the student's department shall direct, and the result of this examination or review shall be transmitted in writing to the Graduate Council.