Public Policy and Political Science

Degree Requirements for the Public Policy & Political Science PhD Program

May 2020

** Note that some requirements may change after the time of publication. Similarly, it is likely that not all courses described below are offered each semester. It is the responsibility of the student to verify information about degree requirements with the directors of graduate studies in public policy and political science.

Political Science Department Course Requirements

Major & Minor Fields

In the political science doctoral program, a student’s coursework is geared toward the completion of a preliminary examination in one major field of political science and one minor field.  For joint students in the joint program, public policy coursework substitutes for the minor field. Joint students are required to complete coursework and pass an exam in their major field. Preliminary exams are oralor written examinations (depending on field) conducted by faculty and are normally given only during September, January, and April/May. A student must be enrolled the semester during which the preliminary examination is taken. Failing a preliminary examfor a second time is grounds for dismissal from the program.

More information about the Political Science requirements can be found in their Graduate Program Guide.

Public Policy Specific Course Requirements

Rackham requires all doctoral students to maintain a 3.0 GPA overall to be in good standing. In addition to this, joint doctoral students must obtain a B- or better in each required public policy course. Students should consult their disciplinary department for any similar requirements in the department required courses.

  • 1 course in program evaluation (3 credits) – typically Joint Political Science & Public Policy students take PUBPOL 639, ECON 675 or PUBPOL 821. Students may petition the PhD Program Director to allow another course to count toward this requirement.
  • 1 course in microeconomics (3 credits) – Students typically take PUBPOL 555: Microeconomics A or PUBPOL 559: Accelerated Microeconomics. Students may petition the PhD Program Director to allow another course to count toward this requirement.
  • 1 course in methods (3 credits) – students often take SURVMETH 600 or POLSCI 680 for this requirement. Students may petition the PhD Program Director to allow another course to count toward this requirement.
  • 2 courses in a substantive policy area (6 credits total) – at least one of these courses must be taken outside the student’s home social science department, and both courses must be approved by the PhD program director.
  • Policy seminar (4 semesters, 1 credit per semester) – PUBPOL 810 – This seminar meets bi-weekly and students are required to enroll in this course during their first two years in the PhD program.

Public Policy Third-Year Paper Requirement

Students must complete an original research paper. The third year paper provides students a chance to begin their careers as independent researchers. It should be an original research paper on a policy-related topic. This paper may be related to papers written for doctoral courses and may (but does not need to) lead into the dissertation proposal. The goal is a paper that would eventually be suitable for publication.

Annual Student Evaluation

Reviews for students in the joint Public Policy and Political Science program will follow the general timeline and structure of reviews for doctoral students in Political Science, with an important difference being that reviews for joint students will incorporate feedback from advisors in both the Ford School and the Political Science department, and the feedback will be provided jointly by the director of the graduate studies in Political Science and the director of doctoral programs at the Ford School. 

First-Year Evaluation

The first-year evaluation for Political Science takes place toward the end of the first year in residence. For students in the joint Public Policy and Political Science program, the First Year Evaluation Committee should consist of the student's current advisors in the Ford School as well as the Political Science Department and, if the student chooses, one other faculty member chosen by the student. In making its evaluation, the First Year Evaluation Committee will take the following information into account:

  • The student's grade record and a list of winter term and proposed courses for the fall term of his or her second year.
  • A seminar paper or other piece of work selected by the student as his or her best work so far. This paper may have been prepared prior to admission to the graduate program.

After reviewing these materials, the committee will meet with the student and discuss his or her progress. Following the meeting, the committee will make a formal report, which should identify the degree to which the student has mastered scholarly tools, accumulated substantive knowledge, and become acquainted with the relevant literature.

The DGS in the Ford School and the DGS in the Department of Political Science will meet to discuss the report and then prepare a joint letter providing the student with a more general assessment of his or her progress.

Second-Year Evaluation

Like the first-year evaluation, the second-year evaluation is typically conducted during the winter semester and involves a committee of faculty familiar with the student’s work. For students in the joint program, the committee should consist of the student's current advisors in the Ford School as well as the Political Science Department, and at least one additional faculty member from the student’s major field who can be selected by the student. The committee reviews the student’s course work, a recent piece of his or her written work, and the student’s plans for achieving candidacy.

In making its evaluation, the committee will examine the same material as for the first-year evaluation, including a more recent piece of written work done by the student while in the department’s graduate program. In addition, the student is required to submit a written plan of course work for achieving candidacy. The committee will also inquire into the satisfactory elimination of any deficiencies noted during the first-year evaluation.

At the conclusion of this evaluation, the student will be given one of the following evaluations: encouraged to proceed towards the Ph.D., eligible to proceed, or not allowed to continue in the program.  The committee will submit its evaluation to the DGS in Political Science, and it will be maintained in the student’s academic folder.

The DGS in the Ford School and the DGS in the Department of Political Science will meet to discuss the report and then prepare a joint letter providing the student with a more general assessment of his or her progress.

Students who are not allowed to continue in the program may appeal this decision to the Director of Graduate Studies, in writing, within one week of the evaluation. Students who appeal will be reevaluated within two weeks of the date of their appeal by a new committee consisting of the Director of Graduate Studies as Chairperson, the coordinator of the student’s major subfield or his/her designate, and a third member from the department selected by the student. The decision of this second evaluation committee will be final.

Students in Year 3 and Beyond:

Doctoral students in Political Science in year 3 and beyond are evaluated once per year, typically near the end of the winter term.

Students in the joint program in Public Policy and Political Science will be required to complete a self-assessment form in which they will not only describe their progress to date, but also identify their primary advisor in the Ford School and the Political Science department. 

The student’s advisors will be asked to complete a brief evaluation of the student.

The DGS in the Ford School and the DGS in the Department of Political Science will review and discuss the student’s self-assessment, the advisor evaluations and other relevant material. They will then prepare a joint letter providing the student with a more general assessment of his or her progress.

These assessments will focus on different milestones depending on the student’s year in the program. For example, when evaluating a third-year student, the directors will focus on whether the student has or will soon advance to candidacy. For students in years 4 or 5, the directors will focus on whether the student has formed a dissertation committee and defended his or her prospectus.

Prospectus Defense

A student’s prospectus defense typically occurs in the 4th or 5th year, although the timing of prospectus varies somewhat with the student’s discipline; joint students should follow the norms of their disciplinary department. During this time, a doctoral candidate lays out his/her intended dissertation research to their committee members. The prospectus defense is done in person with as many members present as possible. If necessary, some members are able to call-in. All committee members must approve the prospectus defense and sign the Ford School proposal defense form.

Prospectus committee members are assumed to be the same as a student’s final dissertation committee (please refer to Rackham’s guidelines for the composition rules). We request prospectus committees to consist of at least four faculty members, three of whom are members of the Graduate Faculty, and two of whom are from the doctoral candidate’s home program. Furthermore, each joint doctoral program committee must have one committee member from each department (Ford School and Political Science).

Typical Plan for Public Policy & Political Science Students

Year 1

   

Fall 

PUBPOL 810

Policy Seminar

 

2-3 courses in PolSci (subfield, methods, etc)

 

Winter

PUBPOL 810

Policy Seminar

 

POLSCI 993

RCRS Course

2-3 courses in PolSci (subfield, methods, etc)

 

Summer

First-Year Evaluation

 

Year 2

   

Fall  

POLSCI 993

GSI Training Course

 

PUBPOL 810

Policy Seminar

 

POLSCI 680

Behavioral Research Methods

 

PUBPOL 639

Program Evaluation

Winter

PUBPOL 810

Policy Seminar

 

Finish PolSci courses

 

PRELIM EXAM

Major Field

Summer 

Second-Year Evaluation

 

Year 3

   

Fall 

PUBPOL 555

Microeconomics

 

Substantive Policy Course #1

 
 

Third Year Paper Course:

 

      PUBPOL 830

Immersion in Research

Winter

Substantive Policy Course #2

 
 

Third Year Paper Course:

 

      PUBPOL 830

Immersion in Research

Summer 

Advance to Candidacy

 

* Specific courses depend on choice of field and may vary by year. See Political Science Department advisor.

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