Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Requirements

Overview of Core Requirements and Concentrations:

The Ph.D. requires 48 hours of coursework, along with 18 hours of dissertation credits (POLS 699), for a total of 66 credit hours. Ph.D. students must select both a primary and a secondary concentration for their degree plan. All students must complete, at UNM, the methodology sequence (POLS 581, 580 and 681); Survey of Political Science as a Discipline and Profession (POLS 582); three pro-seminars (including one in each chosen concentration); two research seminars in their primary concentration and one research seminar in their secondary concentration. Grades of a “B” or higher must be attained in POLS 581 and 580. All core and concentration courses/requirements must be fulfilled before taking the comprehensive exams.

Areas of Concentration: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Public Policy, Methodology.

Students who select the methodology concentration must take two additional methodology courses in political science or other disciplines, as approved by the political science graduate advisor, over and above the methodology sequence (581, 580 and 681), and one research seminar employing advanced research methods.

Qualifying Examinations:

All Ph.D. students are required to complete a qualifying examination in the form of a research paper in any concentration offered by the department. A first draft of the research paper must be completed by the end of the student's third semester, giving the student an additional semester to polish the paper to meet the department's qualifying standards. Students that receive a passing grade will earn an M.A. en route and will be permitted to move forward with their comprehensive examinations.

Comprehensive Examinations:

Ph.D. students are required to pass two comprehensive examinations before being advanced to the candidacy. These exams consist of a combined written and oral examination in their primary concentration, along with a written exam in their secondary concentration. Both of these exams will be taken during the same semester and must be taken no later than the middle of the sixth semester, as scheduled by the department.


Upon passing the comprehensive exams, candidates may proceed to the dissertation phase, assuming all other department and Office of Graduate Studies requirements have been met. Students will enroll for dissertation credits (POLS 699) with their Major Advisor/Dissertation Chair and prepare a formal 10-20 page prospectus to be orally defended in front of a Dissertation Committee approximately one year after completing their comprehensive exams. Once the dissertation proposal is approved, students may proceed with the rest of their dissertation as long as they continue to meet standards of satisfactory progress with their instructor.

For more details on the dissertation and other program requirements, please view the Political Science Graduate Program Handbook.

For Minimum Requirements for the Ph.D. please refer to the Office of Graduate Studies Graduate Handbook.