Degree Types: PhD
The Political Science PhD Program is designed for students whose primary concern is a mastery of theories, methods of research, and substantive literature of the discipline of political science.
The program reflects an effort to address big questions in politics by combining multiple social science methodologies including quantitative, qualitative, experimental, interpretive methods. Committed to excellence in research and teaching, methodological diversity, and interdisciplinary collaborations, the department offers a stimulating intellectual community that is committed to diversity and equality of opportunity for students and faculty of all backgrounds.
We offer field training in American politics, comparative politics, political theory, international relations, and methods. Our graduate training strengths include:
- Race, Ethnicity and Politics
- Conflict Studies
- Law and Politics
- Public Opinion, Political Communication and Political Participation
- American Political Development
- International Theory
- Comparative Historical Analysis
- Feminist and Gender Studies
Students in this program are also encouraged to participate in TGS’s Interdisciplinary Initiative program. For more information on how you can have a second intellectual “home” outside of your department or program please visit the Interdisciplinary Clusters page.
Political Science Courses
POLI_SCI 307-0 Deportation Law and Politics (1 Unit)
Analysis of deportation law and politics from colonial America through today. Requires two visits to Chicago immigration courts.Ethics Values Distro Area
POLI_SCI 310-0 Methods of Political Inference (1 Unit)
Methods for inferences based on data in political research. Research design and quantitative and qualitative methods of inference. Focuses on descriptive, statistical, and causal inference and the application of different methods to substantive problems.Formal Studies Distro Area
POLI_SCI 320-0 The American Presidency (1 Unit)
Structural foundations and historical development of the American presidency; predominant scholarly theories of presidential power and leadership; contemporary issues and debates.
Prerequisite: POLI_SCI 220-0 or equivalent.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 323-0 Public Opinion and Voting Behavior (1 Unit)
Who votes and for whom. Social, psychological, economic, and political factors influencing election choices. Sources of opinions. Focus on American presidential elections with some comparative and nonpresidential material.
Prerequisite: POLI_SCI 220-0 or equivalent.
POLI_SCI 324-0 Political Parties and Elections (1 Unit)
Role of political parties in a democratic society. Topics include nomination, national conventions, political funding, campaigns, party organization, and national, state, and local parties.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 325-0 Congress and the Legislative Process (1 Unit)
Organization of legislatures to make public policy; impact of constituents and political parties on legislative decision making; polarization; legislative-executive relations. Emphasis on the US Congress and contemporary politics.
Prerequisite: POLI_SCI 220-0 or equivalent.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 327-0 African American Politics (1 Unit)
Survey of black politics in the United States, including blacks' relations with government, whites, political parties, public policy, and electoral politics.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 328-0 Public Policy (1 Unit)
The role of government in regulating economic and social behavior; theories of public policy making; sources and effects of public policy.
POLI_SCI 329-0 U.S. Environmental Politics (1 Unit)
Political problems associated with human impact on natural environment; pollution, natural resources, public lands, land use, energy, and population.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 331-0 Politics of the Supreme Court (1 Unit)
Operation of appellate courts, with emphasis on the US Supreme Court. Decision making by appellate courts and the development of public policy.
POLI_SCI 332-0 Constitutional Law I (1 Unit)
Introduction to interpretation of the US Constitution by the Supreme Court. Judicial review, federalism, congressional and executive authority, separation of powers. Taught with LEGAL_ST 332-0; may not receive credit for both courses.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 333-0 Constitutional Law II: Civil and Political Rights (1 Unit)
Consideration of US Supreme Court decisions dealing with civil and political rights, including equality, freedom of speech and religion, and criminal procedures. LEGAL_ST 333-0 and POLI_SCI 333-0 are taught together; may not receive credit for both courses.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 342-0 International Organizations (1 Unit)
Institutions that govern the interactions of states, including the WTO, UN, ICJ, and ICC; informal norms, such as international intervention, international criminal law, and sovereignty. POLI_SCI 342-0 and LEGAL_ST 342-0 are taught together; may not receive credit for both courses.
Prerequisite: POLI_SCI 240-0 or consent of instructor.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 345-0 National Security (1 Unit)
Basic issues in national security, focusing primarily on the United States. Topics include the nature of "national interest," major actors in national security policy making and military strategy, and the influence and role of the defense establishment.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 346-0 European Union in International Affairs (1 Unit)
Introduction to the institutions and policies of the European Union today.Historical Studies Distro Area
POLI_SCI 347-0 Ethics in International Relations (1 Unit)
Role of ethical considerations in international relations: where and when ethical questions are raised and by whom; causes and predictability of tensions between the ethics and self-interests of nations and political figures.Ethics Values Distro Area
POLI_SCI 353-0 Politics of Latin America (1 Unit)
Patterns of socioeconomic development and regime forms in Latin America. Interaction of internal and international economic and political structures and processes.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 354-0 Politics of Southeast Asia (1 Unit)
Political economy of selected Southeast Asian countries, 1945 to present. Important themes include oligarchy and human rights.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 355-0 Politics of China (1 Unit)
Chinese politics since 1949, focusing on social issues and state-society relations since 1989. Basic foundation for the non-specialist as well as preparation for advanced study.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 359-0 Politics of Africa (1 Unit)
Political structures and relation of cultural factors to political stability and change; development of modern political systems.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 361-0 Democratic Transitions (1 Unit)
Theories of the emergence and breakdown of democracy with a focus on cases from Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Note: students cannot receive credit for both POLI_SCI 361-0 (Evanston) and POLI_SCI 361-SA (study abroad).Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 362-0 Politics of Europe (1 Unit)
Impact of historical development on contemporary institutions, political and political-economic institutions, interest groups and parties, policy making, and social and economic policy.Social Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
POLI_SCI 390-0 Special Topics in Political Science (1 Unit)
Designed for investigation of topics of interest to students and faculty that are not covered by other course offerings. May be repeated for credit with change of topic.
POLI_SCI 403-0 Introduction to Probability and Statistics (1 Unit)
Set theory, sample spaces, combinatorics, conditional probability, Bernoulli and binomial random variables and distributions. Some discussion of estimation and inference.
POLI_SCI 405-0 Linear Models (1 Unit)
Theory and application of linear regression and extensions such as limited dependent variables. Consequences of violating the assumptions underlying the classical linear regression model.
Prerequisite: Knowledge of introductory econometrics.
POLI_SCI 406-0 Quantitative Causal Inference (1 Unit)
Topics include maximum-likelihood estimation, time-series regression, simultaneous-equation models, and measurement models.
Prerequisite: POLI_SCI 405-0 or equivalent.
POLI_SCI 407-0 Experimental Political Science (1 Unit)
Experiments are a central methodology in political science. The design, implementation, and analysis of experiments raise a variety of distinct epistemological and methodological challenges. This class will review the challenges to experimentation, discuss how to implement experiments, and survey prominent applications. The class will touch on recent methodological advances in experiments and ongoing debates about the reliability of experimental studies.
POLI_SCI 408-0 Interpretive Methods in Political Science (1 Unit)
This seminar is intended for graduate students in political science and related fields who are interested in empirical research using interpretive methods. It examines a wide range of logics of research and argument and considers their utility for the study of politics.
POLI_SCI 409-0 Case Study and Small-N Methods (1 Unit)
This seminar offers an introduction to small-N and case study methods. The course focuses on tools for describing social and political phenomena and for analyzing causal relationships among these phenomena.
POLI_SCI 410-0 American Politics Field Seminar (1 Unit)
Introduction and review of major studies in American politics on such topics as the presidency, the Congress, the courts, interest groups, political parties, and voting behavior. A basic course for graduate students.
POLI_SCI 411-0 Theories of American Political Institutions (1 Unit)
Exploration of historical and contemporary debates in the study of political institutions, with a focus on U.S. politics (both federal and state legislatures). Includes theories of parties, Congress, President, bureaucracy, interest groups, and courts. Emphasis on key debates, theories, and evidence.
POLI_SCI 412-0 Political Participation (1 Unit)
Participation of the masses in various political systems; the functions these activities serve. Modes and distribution of activity, protest and other unconventional forms of action, relationship to social stratification, social-choice theories of participation, and effects of different modes and levels of participation.
POLI_SCI 413-0 Theories of Political Behavior (1 Unit)
Contrasting approaches to the study of voting, theories of the survey response, psychological theories of mental process, models of public opinion, dispositional explanations of behavior, political participation, and mathematical models of social interaction.
POLI_SCI 414-0 The Presidency (1 Unit)
POLI_SCI 417-0 Legislatures (1 Unit)
Structure and function of legislative bodies in political systems. Focus on the US Congress; comparison with state and foreign legislatures. Political representation, legislative-executive relations, explanation of legislative behavior, and legislative leadership.
POLI_SCI 418-0 American Political Parties (1 Unit)
Organizational structure of political parties and its consequences; the nature and redefinition of political party coalitions; conflict and consensus building within parties; changes within the parties and their effect on power distributions; parties in governmental decision making; party activists; and policy formation and its implications within the parties.
POLI_SCI 419-0 American Political Development (1 Unit)
The historical construction of politics in the U.S. Topics include liberalism and conservatism; state-building and party-building; industrialization and the welfare state; political traditions, regimes, and orders; electoral realignments; constitutional development; social movements; and racial politics. Historical-institutional themes of timing and sequence, critical junctures, path dependence, policy feedback, political entrepreneurship, and intercurrence.
POLI_SCI 423-0 American Social Policy in Comparative Perspective (1 Unit)
This course provides an introduction to American social policy, particularly policies designed to mitigate risk, poverty, and/or inequality. The emphasis of this course is not policy, but politics. We will focus on understanding the contours of the American welfare state and the institutional, economic, demographic, and political factors contributing to and inhibiting its development.
POLI_SCI 424-0 Public Opinion, the Media, and Democracy (1 Unit)
This course is concerned with public opinion, the mass media, and the role of the public in making U.S. foreign and domestic policy. Topics include the micro foundations of public opinion (especially policy preferences), the influence of public opinion on policy, leadership or manipulation of opinion, and the quality of political information made available to the public through the media, including the systematic biases or deficiencies.
POLI_SCI 440-0 International Relations Theory (1 Unit)
Contemporary international relations theory. Basic concepts on the philosophy of social science and substantive theories of international relations, including neorealism, neoliberalism, Marxism, and constructivism.
POLI_SCI 441-0 International Political Economy (1 Unit)
Assessment of the relative importance of systemic and domestic factors in the evolution of international economic relations, particularly among advanced industrialized democracies; the structure of dynamics of those relations.
POLI_SCI 442-0 International Organization (1 Unit)
Introduction to theories about the origin and role of international institutions in world politics. Why do states cooperate? Implications for democratic accountability and political legitimacy.
POLI_SCI 443-0 International Law and International Politics (1 Unit)
This seminar on international law builds on interdisciplinary approaches. It examines the social construction of norms in international affairs, legitimacy and fairness in shaping perceptions and behavior, and how institutions of international law shape international political processes and state behavior.
POLI_SCI 445-0 International Security (1 Unit)
Introduction to theories about the origin and role of international institutions in world politics. Issues include: cooperation, covenants, agreements, norms, democratic accountability, and political legitimacy.
POLI_SCI 447-0 Critical Studies in World Politics (1 Unit)
Scholarship on world politics in the Frankfurt School, Gramscian, and postmodern traditions.
POLI_SCI 449-0 Informal Institutions (1 Unit)
This course examines informal institutions: the rules and procedures that lack formal codification yet effectively structure political behavior.
POLI_SCI 450-0 Contemporary Theory and Research in Comparative Politics (1 Unit)
Major contemporary theoretical and methodological approaches such as society-centered, state-centered, political-institutional, political-cultural, and process- centered theoretical approaches; cross-national statistical and comparative-historical methodological approaches.
POLI_SCI 451-0 Comparative Political Economy of Developing Countries (1 Unit)
Examines political explanations for the divergence in economic performance among developing countries. Topics include the developmental state, collective action, property rights, and democracy.
POLI_SCI 452-0 Democratization (1 Unit)
The interrelationships between socioeconomic structures and democracy, the importance of political leadership, the historic relationship between capitalism and democracy, and contemporary tensions between market reform and democratization.
POLI_SCI 453-0 Modern Africa (1 Unit)
Interdisciplinary survey of current conditions in Africa; the place of Africa in the modern world.
POLI_SCI 454-0 Social Movements and Mobilization (1 Unit)
This graduate-level seminar explores the political conditions and processes shaping social and political mobilization, examining major theories from the fields of sociology and political science about social movements: collective challenges to authority that aim to change society or institute structural changes in an existing state or states.
POLI_SCI 455-0 Politics of Latin America (1 Unit)
This course provides an advanced introduction to the field of Latin American politics. The material is designed to familiarize students with both the substantive areas and the different theoretical and methodological orientations that characterize work in comparative politics on Latin America. The course assumes no prior knowledge of Latin America and is appropriate for graduate students who work mainly on other parts of the world.
POLI_SCI 458-0 Political Institutions (1 Unit)
The new institutionalism is one of the most important recent advances in political science. This course surveys the main varieties of institutionalism - historical, rational choice, sociological - focusing on their main methods and major findings.
POLI_SCI 459-0 Comparative Political Behavior (1 Unit)
Theories and approaches to studying citizen politics in different societies, including an emphasis on the roles of everyday people's information, identity, and cost-benefit analysis in shaping political events, as well as a consideration of how these processes interact with elite frames and with institutions.
POLI_SCI 460-0 Comparative Politics Proseminar II (1 Unit)
Survey of major topics in comparative politics. Contemporary state of the subfield, its evolution, and emerging research questions and controversies. Themes include institutions, identities, the state, regimes, inequality.
POLI_SCI 461-0 Ancient and Medieval Political Thought (1 Unit)
Close reading of Greek sources with attention to literary, cultural and historical context and problems of translation. Texts include works in history, philosophy oratory, drama (e.g., Aristophanes, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle). May be repeated for credit with different texts.
POLI_SCI 462-0 Early Modern Political Thought (1 Unit)
Close reading of late Medieval and Renaissance to early Enlightenment sources. Topics include the separation of church and state; social division and political unity; politics between anthropology and cosmology; the rise of individualism; the state as work of art. May be repeated for credit with different topics and authors.
POLI_SCI 463-0 Late Modern Political Thought (1 Unit)
POLI_SCI 464-0 Contemporary Political Thought (1 Unit)
POLI_SCI 465-0 American Political Thought (1 Unit)
An advanced introduction to the development of American political thought in the US, from the Revolutionaries to the Pragmatists. The seminar will attempt to convey the spirit and substance of the debates that have identified American political thought at different times. The course will attempt some thematic organization by attending to citizens and the state(s).
POLI_SCI 466-0 Comparative Political Theory (1 Unit)
This course explores the question of how to study political thought from outside the Western canon, and how to think normatively about polities outside the industrialized West. It involves an overview of the growing field of Comparative Political Theory, as well as related discussions in the disciplines of comparative literature, philosophy, history, and anthropology.
POLI_SCI 467-0 Issues in Contemporary Political Philosophy (1 Unit)
This course surveys core debates in contemporary political philosophy, providing students with familiarity in the Anglo-American tradition in the field.
POLI_SCI 468-0 Problems in Democratic Theory (1 Unit)
Consideration of issues such as whether democracy presupposes a demos that is socially unified. What are democracy's prospects in an age of globalization and transnationalism?
POLI_SCI 469-0 Special Topics in Knowledge & Politics (1 Unit)
Examination of the crisis - or promise - of meaning that results from the multitude of ways in which political and linguistic theorists have responded to the challenge to think about language in non-referential terms.
POLI_SCI 471-0 Game Theory: Math Models of Individual Political Behavior (1 Unit)
An introduction to game theory. Topics covered include individual decision-making under uncertainty; normal and extensive form games; games of incomplete information; repeated games. Applications to voting theory, collective action and institutional choice.
POLI_SCI 476-0 Politics of Violence (1 Unit)
This graduate seminar surveys recent research into the politics of contemporary and recent conflicts. Students have an opportunity to conceptualize the roles of violence, recruitment, mobilization and ideology, and social structures in shaping processes and outcomes of conflicts.
POLI_SCI 483-0 American Political Behavior Graduate Workshop (1 Unit)
Key debates and developments in research on American Political Behavior; the development, presentation and critique of student-generated original research.
POLI_SCI 484-0 Comparative-Historical Social Science Workshop (1 Unit)
This course is an interdisciplinary seminar designed for graduate students interested in comparative and historical work, broadly defined. Some of the work is more comparative and some is more historical. The workshop includes presentations of new work by Northwestern graduate students, Northwestern faculty, and leading outside scholars in the field of comparative-historical analysis.
POLI_SCI 486-0 Advanced Topics in Middle East Politics (1 Unit)
Advanced seminar on topics including state formation, regimes, political economy, political culture, political institutions, identity, social movements, and religion in politics. The focus in from the late Ottoman era through 2011 uprisings.
POLI_SCI 490-0 Special Topics in Political Science (1 Unit)
Investigation of topics of current interest to students and faculty not covered by other offerings.
POLI_SCI 495-0 Qualitative Methods (1 Unit)
This seminar provides a broad introduction to research design and qualitative methods. The first part of the course covers foundational issues, including conceptualization, measurement, and causality in a qualitative context. Part II introduces students to various approaches and techniques including case studies, process tracing, archival, ethnographic, and interview methods, considering the utility and tradeoffs of each.
POLI_SCI 499-0 Independent Study (1 Unit)
Contact the department for section and permission numbers. Permission of instructor and department required. May be repeated for credit.
POLI_SCI 519-0 Responsible Conduct of Research Training (0 Unit)
POLI_SCI 590-0 Research (1-3 Units)
Contact the department for section and permission numbers. Independent investigation of selected problems pertaining to thesis or dissertation. May be repeated for credit.