PhD program requirements

Requirements Units
Two field seminars: POLI 608, 609, 616, 640, CSPT 601, IN 601 3.0
POLI 605 1.5
Elective courses 3.0
Professional Development Seminar: POLI 600 1.5
Candidacy Examinations: POLI 693 3.0
Dissertation Proposal Dissertation: POLI 699 30.0
Total Units 42.0

PhD candidates are required to complete 42.0 units in accordance with the following program:

Course requirements

All PhD students are required to complete six 1.5 unit graduate courses beyond the MA degree, including POLI 600 (Professional Development Seminar). Students must choose two field seminars 3 units) (POLI 608, 609, 616, 640, CSPT 601, IN 601), one from each of the two areas in which they will be taking a candidacy examination. Students are required to complete a course in methodology (POLI 605), unless written exemption is given to the graduate advisor by their supervisor. 

Students must also complete POLI 693 (Candidacy Examinations - 3.0 units). Students may be required to complete an additional course in methodology at the request of their supervisory committee.

The remaining elective courses may be taken from PhD seminars offered by the department. Students may also choose to take one graduate course (1.5 units) (and no more than two graduate courses) from outside the Political Science. Students must pass all course work with at least B+ average before proceeding to the field examinations.

Professional development seminar

POLI 600 is a compulsory seminar worth 1.5 units for PhD students in Political Science that runs from September until April every second year.

Students are introduced to the professional aspects of the discipline including: how to write to grant applications, how to teach effectively, how to design a syllabus and a CV, how to contribute to the administrative and intellectual community in their department and in political science more broadly.

Candidacy examinations

Field seminars will help prepare students for candidacy written and oral examinations. Readings for the candidacy exams will be broader than course work and will be determined according to reading lists drawn up by the faculty in the field being examined and in consultation with the student.

Students must successfully complete candidacy examinations in two of the following fields: Canadian Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory. Students may substitute one of these examinations for an interdisciplinary examination in Comparative Public Policy and Governance, Cultural, Social and Political Thought or Indigenous Nationhood.


Within three to six months after passing the candidacy examinations, students are required to write and orally defend a dissertation proposal before their supervisory committee, which must consist of three members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, two of whom must be from the department of Political Science.

Normally, proposals should be between 20-30 pages, and will consist of a description of their research project, a review of the relevant literature, their original contribution to the field, and an explanation of their methodology/approach. The proposal and oral defense must be considered satisfactory before the student may proceed to the dissertation.

Upon satisfactory completion of all coursework, candidacy exams and dissertation proposal, students achieve All But Dissertation (ABD) status, and will be eligible for teaching appointments in the department. All students are required to submit and orally defend a dissertation worth 30 units of credit.