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Political Science

Administrative Unit:Political Science
College/School: College of Letters & Science
Admitting Plans:Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.A., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor

Faculty: Professors Burden, Canon (chair), Cramer, Downs, Gehlbach, Hendley, Herrera, Kydd, Manion, Marquez, Martin, Mayer, Pevehouse, Schatzberg, Schweber, Shafer, Straus, Tripp, Weimer, Yackee, Zumbrunnen; Associate Professors Ahlquist, Avramenko, Copelovitch, Ewig, Kapust, Kinsella, Owens, Ringe, Shelef; Assistant Professors Bhavnani, Lindsay, Lupu, Powell, Renshon, Simmons, Weeks, Tahk


The Department of Political Science offers graduate study leading to the doctor of philosophy in political science. The department accepts students only for the Ph.D. program, but a master's degree can be obtained en route to the Ph.D.

The Ph.D. is earned through a combination of course work and dissertation. The program is designed to provide students with both a general training in political science and the opportunity to specialize in their areas of interest.

The subfields of political science found in the department are American politics, comparative politics, political theory and philosophy, international relations, and political methodology. The department has a national and international reputation for the high quality of its faculty and for the diversity of their approaches and interests; the department has long been known for both collegiality and acceptance of varied approaches to the study of politics. Political science shares faculty with the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, the Law School, and the Department of  Gender and Women's Studies. The presence of programs and centers such as the African Studies Program, the Center for European Studies, the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA), Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies, Integrated Liberal Studies and others is also beneficial to graduate students, providing opportunities for the advancement of interdisciplinary approaches in student research.

Doctoral Minor 

Students from other departments who choose an Option A doctoral minor in political must complete 9 credits of political science coursework resulting in a cohesive theme or area of study. At least one-half of the coursework for the minor program must be taken in graduate-level offerings (700–900) in which the student has achieved grades of B or better. A written agreement as to the designated field and courses must be approved by the associate chair no later than halfway into the minor program.

Financial Aid 

The department guarantees funding for all students making satisfactory progress for at least their first five years. Support may be in the form of fellowships, teaching assistantships, or as an assistant to a faculty research project.


Applicants to the Ph.D. program must apply online by December 15 for admission the following fall. The online application requires you to submit the Graduate School application, three references and completion of the Political Science supplemental application. A statement of reasons for graduate study, a scanned set of official transcripts, and a research paper with abstract must be uploaded as part of the supplemental application. GRE scores are required. Applicants from outside the United States may also need to submit TOEFL scores. It is the candidate's responsibility to ensure that all materials are delivered on time.

International applicants whose first language is not English will be admitted only if they have Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of 100 (Internet-based).

For more information: Graduate Program Coordinator, Department of Political Science, 110 North Hall, 1050 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI 53706; 608-263-1878; admit@polisci.wisc.edu; www.polisci.wisc.edu.