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Graduate Program in Political Science

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Overview | General Course Descriptions | Admissions Information
Online Graduate Application | Financial Support | Progress Toward the Ph.DRequirements for the Ph.D Degree | M.A. Requirements |  Course Requirements | Comprehensive Examinations | Dissertation Prospectus | Dissertation | Defense |  Current Graduate Students


The graduate program in Political Science reflects the distinctive strengths of Johns Hopkins University, where graduate education holds a central place in the life of an attractive urban campus of comparatively small size, and where graduate students from several departments in the social sciences and humanities form a vibrant intellectual community. The Johns Hopkins University Department of Political Science promotes close interdependence between American politics, comparative politics, law and politics, international relations, and political theory. Our objective is to be a place where most faculty and graduate students are fluent in theory and where many contribute to the global and comparative dimensions of politics. This objective is reflected in the range of the faculty, with most members contributing to more than one field and several engaged actively with colleagues and graduate students in other departments. Our program is designed for graduate students who seek broad training, who are inspired by large questions about politics, and who aspire to develop considerable strength in more than one field. We also encourage students to do some work in allied departments such as Anthropology, the Humanities Center, History, Philosophy, Sociology, Economics, and Public Policy. A broad gauge program speaks to the future teaching responsibilities of students as well as the professional scholarship appropriate to the future. Much political research in the next few decades will study the United States comparatively, explore connections between contemporary global politics and the durable interests of political theory, and cultivate growing convergences between international relations and comparative politics.

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General Course Descriptions

The Department’s graduate program offers courses in the following fields: American politics, law and politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. Please download catalog for descriptions of graduate courses.

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Admissions Information

The department admits 10 to 12 new graduate students each year, selecting them from the approximately 200 applications that it receives annually. The deadline for application for admission to graduate study and the award of financial assistance is January 15. Decisions are made exclusively in late February or early March and announced by March 15. A B.A., B.S., or their equivalent and results of the Graduate Record Examination are required for application. Students whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL examinations or provide other evidence of fluency in English. A broad background in the liberal arts and sciences is preferred. 

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Online Graduate Application

The application is online.

Supporting documentation should be mailed, in one envelope, to the following address:

Johns Hopkins University
Full-time Studies in Arts & Sciences and Engineering
Graduate Affairs and Admissions Office
Shriver Hall 28
3400 N. Charles St
Baltimore, MD 21218

For all materials, we require the use of our Mailing Label and Cover Sheet.

Please note: The Graduate Affairs and Admissions Office will only accept regular mail, Certified Mail, UPS, DHL and Fed Ex deliveries.

If applying to more than one department, please mail a complete application packet for each department to the Graduate Admissions office.

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Financial Support

 The department ordinarily provides financial aid to all students admitted to the graduate program unless they hold fellowships from sources outside the university. Departmental fellowships cover full tuition and an annual stipend, currently set at $22,000. Assuming satisfactory progress toward the Ph.D., students can normally expect to receive financial aid for five years. Increasingly, sixth year funding is available. All students receiving financial support are expected to serve as teaching assistants for one semester of each academic year.

Information on scholarships and fellowships can be found on the scholarships page of the Academic Advising website.

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Progress Toward the Ph.D.

The time necessary to obtain a Ph.D. in the department varies according to the preparation individual students bring to the program, the scope and complexity of their dissertation topics, and other factors. All students are strongly encouraged to satisfy the department-wide foreign language requirement by the end of their first year of graduate study. Students with exceptionally good prior preparation sometimes take their comprehensive examinations in May of their second year, but most students sit for these examinations during their third year in the program. In planning their programs, students should remember that the probability of receiving financial aid from the department itself diminishes somewhat beginning in the sixth year of study.

Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

The requirements for the Ph.D. are divided between those that must be satisfied by all candidates for that degree and those particular to the sub disciplinary fields into which work in the department is divided. All candidates for the Ph.D. must satisfy the following requirements:

M.A. Requirements

The Master of Arts degree is offered only as a step toward the Ph.D. degree. For the M.A., the student must complete at least seven one-semester courses at the 600-level with a grade of B or better, and demonstrate an effective reading knowledge of one approved foreign language. In the case of students who have taken an M.A. in Political Science or a closely related field at another university, or a degree in law or other professional school, the department will, on request, determine to what extent that work satisfies the Johns Hopkins requirements.

Course Requirements

Complete a minimum of 12 one-semester courses at the 600-level with a grade of B or better. The seven courses taken toward the M.A. count toward satisfying this requirement.

Comprehensive Examinations

Pass comprehensive examinations in two approved fields: one major and one minor. The comprehensive examination in the major field is two days (16 hours) in length. It is conducted by faculty in the department whose teaching and research are in the field in question. The comprehensive examination in the minor field is one day (8 hours) in length. Both the major and the minor field are to be chosen from among the five fields of Political Science into which study in the department is primarily organized. Students may, if they wish, take an optional second minor examination in one of these fields, in one of the two other fields that the department offers exclusively as minors, or outside the Department of Political Science. In the latter case, the student must:

• Devise a coherent program of study in an area related to political science, in consultation with his or her department adviser and faculty from other departments.

• Complete with a grade of B or better a minimum of three courses at the 600-level in the area in question.

• Pass a comprehensive examination prepared and evaluated, in consultation with faculty of the Department of Political Science, by the instructors in those courses.

Dissertation Prospectus

Complete a dissertation prospectus. The prospectus will be supervised and must be approved by two members of the faculty in the Political Science department.


Complete a doctoral dissertation. Preparation of the dissertation will be supervised and must be approved by two members of the faculty, at least one of whom (the dissertation director) must be a member of the Department of Political Science.


Pass a final examination. The final examination will take the form of a defense of the doctoral dissertation and will be conducted under the rules of the Graduate Board of Johns Hopkins University.

Current Graduate Students

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