Program Requirements

Information about our graduate program, facilities, and financial aid is detailed in our comprehensive handbook Graduate Study in Political Science. Contents include:

  • Admission to the Ph.D Program
  • Ph.D. Program Rules and Degree Requirements
  • Optional Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Emphases
  • M.A. /Ph.D. Admission and Degree Requirements
  • Tuition, Fees, and Residency
  • Financial Aid and Employment
  • Housing
  • Application Information


Forms & Petitions

Qualifying field form
Field paper form
Field paper grade form
Prospectus Defense Form

Nomination to PhD candidate form
Qualifying exam report form
Conflict of interest form

Report on final examination for PhD

More Forms on Graduate Division Website

All program requirements are detailed in the Political Science Graduate Student Handbook. For any questions about requirements or for forms, please contact Carol Conley (Graduate Program Coordinator). Additionally, students are strongly encouraged to consult the UCSB Graduate Policies and Procedures Handbook for more detailed information on university rules and requirements, as well as necessary forms.

Below is a summary of departmental requirements:

Complete a minimum of twelve courses with a grade of B or better (or thirteen if selecting a non-exam qualifying option), subject to additional requirements as outlined in the Department’s graduate student handbook.

Qualifying Requirements
Students must qualify in two fields. The first field is chosen from among American Politics, International Relations, Comparative Politics, and Political Theory.  A student must take at least three seminars in the examination field (some fields also have additional requirements). A student may take no more than one quarter of PS 596 (Directed Reading and Research) as part of exam preparation. The second field is chosen from among American Politics, International Relations, Comparative Politics, Political Theory, Environmental Politics, and Identity Politics, or the second field may be self-defined, by petition.
Requirements for the Political Science Subfields.
Please consult the department’s graduate student handbook for options for qualifying in the second field.
Reading Lists for Qualifying Exams
Our faculty have prepared reading lists for each of the exam fields that are intended as starting points for students’ exam preparation. Students preparing for exams should consult carefully with faculty in their field for recent literature and how best to use these lists.

American Politics Reading List 
Comparative Poltics Core Reading List
International Relations Reading List
Political Theory Reading List

Language Skills Requirement
A student can satisfy this requirement through demonstration of proficiency in a foreign language or competence in statistics and quantitative data analysis or competence in a qualitative or other research method appropriate to a well-defined research program in Political Science.  
Professional Skills Requirement
In each academic year, a student must attend at least five departmental guest presentations, for a cumulative total of fifteen presentations over three years.
Over three years of enrollment, a student must attend each of the department’s professional skills forums at least once for a cumulative total of six.
Prospectus Research
Complete at least one quarter of Dissertation Prospectus Workshop (PS 503).  This course is required for all subfields, and emphasizes preparation of the dissertation prospectus, but it is also designed to assist students during the dissertation research and writing phases.
Prospectus Defense
Pass an oral qualifying examination, which will focus on the dissertation prospectus.  This must be completed within four years of beginning graduate studies at UCSB. After the defense, each student must pay the “Advancement to Candidacy” fee to the Cashier’s Office and take the receipt to the Graduate Division. 
Public Presentation
Make one formal public presentation.  This requirement may be fulfilled by a practice job talk, a works-in-progress presentation of one’s research before the department, or a paper presentation at a major conference.
Doctoral Dissertation
Write a doctoral dissertation that is acceptable to the department. It is essential that the doctoral student maintain close contact with members of his/her dissertation committee to inform them of progress in writing the dissertation. The dissertation must be filed within seven years after the date of the student’s entrance into a graduate program in the department.