Our graduate program, currently ranked 11th among U.S. graduate programs in Political Science, is small and very selective; each year’s entering cohort is approximately 15 students. We admit students for the Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science; we welcome applicants with a bachelor’s degree, as well as applicants who already hold master’s or professional degrees.
The focus of our graduate program is to train students for professional careers in political science, usually in academic institutions but also (and increasingly) in government agencies and non-governmental organizations. Our program emphasizes the acquisition of substantive knowledge, methodological skills and communication tools that will allow the student to conduct cutting-edge research and to teach effectively.
We aim to train political scientists for competence in the discipline as a whole, as well as with expertise in specific subfields and topics. To this end, we offer our students small graduate classes on a wide array of substantive and methodological topics. Our graduate students also receive a great deal of individual attention from faculty members, with many opportunities for collaboration and co-authorship. Our students also gain substantial experience in teaching, both through teaching assistantships and via the opportunity to teach one’s own course. This experience, coupled with the research training we offer, is essential for success in careers in university-level teaching and scholarly research. Ph.D. candidates who elect to work in nonacademic settings, including think tanks and government agencies, also find that our program’s combination of substantive training and methodological competency is invaluable.
We have 43 faculty members, including 13 who hold endowed or distinguished professorships. This allows us to study a wide range of substantive issues, using varying methods, and to offer a broad set of graduate courses. In American politics, we bring together research in behavior (public opinion, political psychology, elections) with the study of political institutions (courts, Congress, state politics and interest groups). Our comparative politics faculty are especially strong in Latin America, Europe, and the post-Communist regions; many faculty also work on thematic issues that span geographic regions. Our international relations faculty examine civil and interstate conflict, international political economy and the connections between conflict and economics. Within political theory, our strengths relate to contemporary normative theory. We offer thorough training in political methodology (statistics, formal theory and causal inference).
Our admissions committee aims to select students for admission who will thrive at UNC. To that end, we consider not only each applicant’s academic credentials (GRE scores, GPA, academic transcripts, letters of recommendation), but also his or her research interests, writing skills, and past research experience. We seek students who are not only highly motivated, but also whose interests overlap with those of our faculty. We give careful attention to each applicant, with an aim of making holistic assessments.