Course Requirements: Students must complete 72 points (18 courses). Students are required to take one core course in each of at least three substantive subfields. To further guard against excessive specialization, students must take at least three courses (12 points) in each of at least two fields. Course credits transferred from another institution may count toward the fulfillment of this requirement. The fields presently recognized by the department include (1) political philosophy and theory, (2) political methodology, (3) American politics, (4) political economy, (5) comparative politics, and (6) international relations. In consultation with their adviser, students may petition the director of graduate studies (DGS) to create a field of their own making. Such a field may be interdisciplinary. Doctoral students are required to maintain a 3.5 grade point average.
When entering the program, students should declare their intended field, which can be changed at any time in consultation with the student’s adviser. A student specializing in any recognized field may have to satisfy course requirements established by faculty in this field. Admission to some advanced courses may be conditional on students having taken prerequisites or having an equivalent background. In all cases, students must consult their adviser to plan a comprehensive program of courses and inform their adviser of any changes. There are no limits on courses taken in other departments or other university members of the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (see the Admission, Registration and Degree Requirements section of this bulletin for details) other than those specified by GSAS. Students are encouraged to develop knowledge and acquire methodological skills in sister disciplines.
To train themselves in academic research and writing, students are encouraged to write research papers, typically by applying or developing the work of a particular course in subsequent reading and research courses. The two required papers, the 2nd Year paper and the 3rd Year paper (see below), are normally prepared in this way.
2nd Year Paper: Students who enter the program without an M.A. degree must present a written 2nd Year paper by no later than the beginning of their second year. The specific requirements for the paper depend on the field, but the general rule is that it should have the format of an article in this field. The topic of the 2nd Year paper should be chosen in consultation with faculty members. On completion, the paper is submitted for reading by two faculty members chosen by the director of graduate studies (DGS), no later than within two months after submission. The paper can receive a high pass, a low pass, or a failing grade. If the paper does not receive a unanimous high pass, the student may revise and resubmit it by no later than the beginning of the fourth semester of residence. If the paper receives a low pass and the student maintains at least a 3.0 grade point average, the student is granted the M.A. degree but must leave the program. If the paper receives a failing grade or if the student’s grade point average is below 3.0, no degree is granted and the student must leave the program. If the revised paper receives different grades from the two readers, the DGS appoints a third reader and the expanded committee will decide the grade. 2nd Year paper and grade record are satisfactory is considered to have advanced toward the Ph.D.
M.A. Waiver: Students entering with an M.A. degree from an equivalent institution may petition for a waiver of up to one year of course requirements (equivalent of 24 points). For this purpose, a copy of the M.A. thesis must be submitted to the director of graduate studies (DGS) when the student enters the program. The DGS appoints two faculty members as readers to decide whether the thesis is equivalent in standards and quality to the department’s requirements. If the M.A. thesis is approved, the student submits the waiver petition to the DGS at the end of the first year of residence. In consultation with the readers, the DGS decides whether or not to waive residence requirements on the basis of the M.A. thesis and the grade record of the student during the first year at New York University. Please note that if a student is granted a waiver of 24 points, he or she is required to waive one year of academic funding.
Communications Requirement: Doctoral students must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English. The Graduate School of Arts and Science determines which languages qualify, but another language can be substituted on recommendation of the student’s adviser and the director of graduate studies and with approval of the language coordinator. A student whose native language is not English should consult the director of graduate studies regarding fulfillment of the communications requirement.
Ph.D. Qualifying Examination: No later than the end of the fifth semester in residence (third semester for students who receive an M.A. waiver), students must complete the Ph.D. qualifying examination, which consists of the submission of a 3rd Year paper and the oral defense of a syllabus. The 3rd Year paper is a research paper of publishable quality, satisfying all formal requirements for an article in a given field. Before writing the paper, students should submit a brief proposal to at least two faculty members, who become “readers” on approving this proposal The topic (but not necessarily the field) of the 3rd Year paper must differ from that of the 2nd Year paper, and the two papers must be read by at least four different readers. The work on the 3rd Year paper can be and should be assisted by faculty. Readers evaluate this paper within two months of submission. The readers have the option of accepting the paper, suggesting revisions, or rejecting the paper. If invited to do so, the student may revise the paper and resubmit it within six months. If the revision is not accepted by both readers, the student is considered to have failed this requirement.
Original Annotated Syllabus: Students must also submit an original annotated syllabus for a graduate introduction to a field. This syllabus should attest to the understanding of the structure of the field, as well as to the knowledge of the primary and secondary literature. This syllabus is presented at an oral hearing to two faculty members, who then pass or fail the syllabus and its defense. Students who successfully complete both of these requirements qualify as candidates for the Ph.D. degree. Students who do not satisfy both requirements by the end of the third year (second year for students who receive an M.A. waiver) are required by the department to leave the program, save for exceptional circumstances.
Dissertation: After completing the qualifying examination, students must present a Ph.D. dissertation proposal. The proposal ordinarily should be presented before the end of the third year in residence (second year for students who receive an M.A. waiver). Students who do not present a proposal within one calendar year of passing their qualifying examination must petition the DGS to be allowed to do so. Before beginning to work on the Ph.D. dissertation, students must form a thesis committee, comprising at least three faculty members (the committee chair and two members), of whom at least two must be members of the department. Students should consult with the committee while preparing the proposal and working on the thesis. The proposal should specify the problem to be researched, summarize the current state of knowledge, describe research procedures, and identify the bodies of relevant information. It should be no more than 15 single-spaced pages, plus a bibliography. The dissertation committee must approve the proposal. When all members are satisfied with the proposal, the committee meets with the student in an advisory hearing. Acceptance of the proposal signals that the student has satisfied all the requirements for the Ph.D. degree other than the dissertation.
The dissertation must constitute a substantial body of original research of publishable quality. Except by the expressed permission of the chair of the department, the dissertation should not exceed 100,000 words. Once members of the committee approve the dissertation, an oral defense is scheduled. After the student’s thesis director approves the dissertation and the dissertation committee agrees that it is ready for defense, a final oral defense is scheduled before a panel of five faculty members appointed by the chair of the department or the director of graduate studies. The GSAS regulates the procedures for this defense. The department expects students to complete the dissertation and its defense within four years after finishing course requirements.