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Political Science

Contact the Political Science Department for enrollment information.


This document lays out the structure of, and requirements for, the Political Methodology field at both the M.A. and Ph.D. levels.

M.A. students taking the Political Methodology field will be required to demonstrate a solid understanding of basic statistical theory and its application to the basic linear model as applied to political science data. In addition to this general knowledge, Ph.D. students will have acquired specialized knowledge and training in at least three applied areas of political methodology, as specified below.

The goal of this field is to help students prepare to be consumers and producers of political science research that takes advantage of and builds on rigorous, analytic, and empirical techniques. 

Political Methodology Field Committee

The Political Methodology Field Committee will be composed of three members appointed by the Department Chair; one of these shall be the field coordinator. The methodology field coordinator shall be responsible for convening and organizing the methodology field committee. The primary purpose of the committee will be to review requests by students for inclusion of additional courses. These appointments will last for one academic year. It is normally expected that committee members will be those responsible for teaching departmental courses in this field, as well as members of the faculty who hold appointments in the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences.

Course Requirements

M.A. students testing in the Political Methodology field must complete one course after completing the Department's methods requirements. Ph.D. students testing in the methodology field must complete a minimum of 4 courses after completing the Departmental methodology sequence. Students must achieve an average grade of 3.3 or above in courses counting toward the methodology field requirement.

These additional courses can include any 500 level class taught through the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences (with the exception of CS&SS 590) as well as the Economics and Sociology courses listed below. In addition, students can petition the Political Methodology Field Committee to have other classes approved on an ad hoc basis. In evaluating such requests, the Committee will favor courses whose content is not currently being taught through CSSS. Further, if two non-CSSS courses are available that cover the same subject matter, the Field Committee will give preference to the course they believe to be more in line with the skills needed by political scientists. Approval of a given non-CSSS course applies only to the student who petitioned to have the course(s) added.

Currently, the courses available are:

  • CS&SS 536 Analysis of Categorical and Count Data
  • CS&SS 544 Event History Analysis for the Social Sciences
  • CS&SS 560 Hierarchical Modeling for the Social Sciences
  • CS&SS 564 Bayesian Statistics for the Social Sciences
  • CS&SS 565 Inequality: Current Trends and Explanations
  • CS&SS 566 Causal Modeling
  • CS&SS 567 Statistical Analysis of Social Networks
  • CS&SS 586 Special Topics in Organizational and Industrial Sociology
  • CS&SS 594 Special Topics in Social Science and Statistics
  • CS&SS 600 Independent Study or Research
  • SOC 525-529 (Courses in the Sociological Methods Sequence)
  • ECON 516 Introduction to Noncooperative Game Theory
  • ECON 580-585 (Courses in the Econometrics Sequence)

Further, courses offered through the Department of Statistics will typically be approved.

The methodology field does not have a comprehensive examination. The reasons for requiring advanced coursework rather than a comprehensive examination in the methodology field are three-fold. First, unlike acquiring proficiency in a substantive area, acquiring advanced statistical and methodological skills are typically accomplished through coursework rather than through the mastery of an extensive body of scholarly literature. Second, mastery of the course material will be sufficient to achieve the desired level of proficiency since the advanced methodology courses are entirely self-contained. Finally, since the majority of the advanced methodology courses open to students are currently taught in other departments it would be logistically difficult to schedule and administer comprehensive exams.

The Broader Context

The Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences (CSSS) is a valuable resource for faculty and students with interests in political methodology. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the weekly seminar. In addition, non-Political Science faculty affiliated with CSSS serve as a valuable source of information and expertise on specialized topics in social statistics. The CSSS consulting service can also provide assistance and advice to graduate students (and faculty) on numerous aspects of study design and analysis.

The Department of Political Science encourages students testing in the Political Methodology field to attend the summer meeting of the Society for Political Methodology.