Graduate Curriculum

Our internationally recognized faculty cover a wide range of scholarly interests, including political theory, the history of political thought; patterns of American political development, contemporary American politics, particularly race and gender, political socialization, and elections and representation; the political economy of other developed and developing democratic systems, particularly as they relate to the challenges posed by nationalism and cultural pluralism; the advanced industrial democracies of Western Europe, the democratizing states of Eastern Europe, and the international political, economic and military-security relations among states, especially in the Middle East.

Our pedagogy relies on tutorials and small seminar formats for graduate coursework as well as close individual supervision.


Graduate coursework in the department is carried out in many forms:

  • a set of five required graduate "field seminars," topical and specialized graduate seminars;
  • tutorials and independent readings courses;
  • a required proseminar for dissertation research in progress.

The five field seminars cover four substantive sub-fields and one covers research methods. These are offered on an alternating basis: in odd years, American political development, comparative political institutions and public policy, and qualitative research design and analysis; in even years, international relations, and "liberalism and its critics."

Faculty offer separate graduate-level reading and discussion sections or tutorials (and assign graduate research and writing tasks) for each undergraduate course in which one or more graduate students are enrolled. Students are also encouraged, when appropriate, to attend courses in local institutions that are part of the Boston Area Graduate Consortium.


All of our PhD students are fully funded for five years of study and dissertation writing, including a full-tuition grant, a stipend for living expenses, and health insurance coverage.

The goals and tasks of the PhD student change over the five years of funding. Review the timeline for more information.


PhD students gain teaching experience and mentoring by serving as faculty-supervised teaching fellows for the larger, introductory survey courses for undergraduates. Service as teaching fellows is a key component of their training for professional academic careers, and every funded PhD student will serve in this capacity for eight courses over their career.


Brandeis University provides institutional support for graduate students concerned with housing, health care, English language training, and teaching and professionalization, for example.

Many students receive support beyond their fifth year, and most receive additional research grants during summers to pursue their own research projects here or in the field.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences also offers funding for students to present papers at conferences, which the department can sometimes supplement.

Brandeis University has several institutions outside the political science department that offer wonderful opportunities for students with interdisciplinary interests, including the Gordon Center for American Public Policy, the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, the Crown Center for Middle East Studies and the Center for German and European Studies.