PhD degree requirements

PhD degree requirements

All students, including those completing the optional teaching stream, experiential stream, and co-op option must complete the following degree requirements. Please note the PhD Professional Development Seminar is completed by all students, regardless of option or stream.

Courses

Students must complete 6 (0.50 unit weight) graduate-level courses:

  • PSCI 600 Political Science Methods
  • 2 core courses in one of the program’s three graduate research fields:
    • If selecting the Canadian Politics research field, students must complete the following core courses:PSCI 661 Canadian Political Institutions PSCI 662 Canadian Political Process
    • If selecting the International Relations research field, students must complete the following core courses:PSCI 610 International Relations Theory PSCI 611 Current Issues in International Relations
    • If selecting the Political Economy research field, students must complete the following core courses:PSCI 690 Theories of Political Economy PSCI 691 Developments in Political Economy 
  • 2 courses in the student’s second area (which may be another of the three graduate research fields or a custom concentration)
  • 1 elective (may be taken outside the Department of Political Science at the approval of the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies)

Students entering the PhD program from the University of Waterloo’s Master of Arts (MA) in Political Science program may have already completed some of the required core courses for their chosen research fields. To meet formal course requirements for the PhD degree, these students must complete 6 new (0.50 unit weight) graduate-level courses that satisfy their comprehensive examination preparation.

Reading courses may supplement regular offerings in the program, although it is understood that they will be approved at the discretion of the Department. Students will normally be permitted to take 1 reading course as part of their degree.

Students are required to maintain an overall average of 80% in their graduate-level coursework.

Milestones

Milestones are non-course degree requirements (such as the academic integrity workshop, co-op work term report, master’s research paper, etc.) that must be met in order for a student to graduate. Students can keep track of their milestone progress by viewing their unofficial transcript in Quest.

Academic Integrity Workshop

PhD Professional Development Seminar

Students must complete the following mandatory professional development workshops (typically in Year 2 and 3 of the program). The six mandatory workshops are offered by the Department:

  • Research design and methods
  • Conducting literature review
  • Planning and best practices in fieldwork
  • Conferencing best practices (completed after proposal defence)
  • Careers in political science and translating skills for a non-academic job market
  • Communicating research to a broader audience

Students must also complete 3 additional professional development workshops to satisfy the requirements of the PhD Professional Development Seminar. Workshops must be approved by the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies, but may include the following:

  • Practice job talk / job interview
  • Workshops or courses providing additional training in social science methods
  • Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop aimed at graduate students
  • MITACS Edge workshop/course
  • Writing Centre workshop
  • Career Centre workshop
  • Counselling Services workshop on mindfulness, cognitive therapy, or practical skills to reduce anxiety
  • Completion of any course or workshop relevant to professional development offered by a campus partner

PhD Comprehensive Examination

Students are required to meet the University-level PhD Comprehensive Examination minimum requirements outlined in the “Minimum requirements for the PhD degree” section of the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar (GSAC), with certain noted exceptions that are specific to the Faculty of Arts Comprehensive Examination minimum requirements:

  • Comprehensive examination purpose: Consistent with University-level minimum requirements.
  • Timing: Consistent with University-level minimum requirements. Committee: Consistent with University-level minimum requirements with the exception that in the Faculty of Arts, the Graduate Chair can approve the committee for comprehensive examinations.
  • Who Chairs an examination: Consistent with University-level minimum requirements. Format / Content: Consistent with University-level minimum requirements. Academic integrity: Consistent with University-level minimum requirements.
  • In addition to the University-level and Faculty-level PhD Comprehensive Examination minimum requirements, students in the PhD in Political Science program are also required to meet the following requirements: At the end of their coursework, typically in September of Year 2, students are required to sit two exams. The first exam will be from one of the three graduate research fields of the program the student has selected to study in. It will be comprised of a written exam, followed by an oral exam. The second exam may follow the same format as the first if the student’s second field is also one of the three graduate research fields of the program. Alternatively, the student may elect to submit a review essay broadly addressing the major theoretical debates, methodological hurdles, or substantive problems posed by existing scholarship in the field. If the second area of study is a custom concentration, the comprehensive exam will consist of a review essay broadly addressing the major theoretical debates, methodological hurdles, or substantive problems posed by existing scholarship in the field.

PhD Thesis Proposal

Students will write a thesis proposal situating their research question(s) in the extant literature, outlining their approach, theory, scope, and research methodology, and explaining the original nature of their contribution, along with a timeline and proposed chapter outline. The proposal will be subject to an oral defence, normally by the end of the sixth term, before a committee including the student’s supervisor and two other faculty members.

PhD Thesis

Students will have choice in the format of their thesis. Students may choose a traditional dissertation (ranging from 200 to 350 pages in length), or a ‘publication model’ consisting of at least three sole-authored published (or in press) works, at least one of which is in a traditional, peer-reviewed outlet (other publications might include research reports for think tanks, etc.), and including an original introduction, conclusion and any necessary bridging chapters to reflect a coherent project.

In rare cases, and with the approval of the student’s supervisor and the Department’s Graduate Committee, students may opt for a non-traditional thesis that meets the standards of an original doctoral-level contribution to knowledge, but in a different form (for example, a documentary). The Department is especially cognizant of the potential for alternative approaches to knowledge-generation and dissemination, such as Indigenous approaches to knowledge, as something to be accommodated on a case-by-case basis.

Normally, students should complete and defend the dissertation within four years of starting the program. Regardless of format, the thesis will be subject to an oral defence before a committee, including the supervisor, two other Political Science faculty members, an internal-external examiner from another department/program at the University of Waterloo, and an external examiner.

Teaching stream requirements

In addition to the above requirements, students who participate in the teaching stream of the program will be required to complete the following milestone.

PhD Teaching Seminar

The following mandatory professional development workshops must be completed:

  • Centre for Teaching Excellence Fundamentals of University Teaching program (student may begin this program as early as Year 1)
  • 2 Guest Lectures in Political Science (students will receive automatic credit if they have the opportunity to teach their own course as a sessional instructor)
  • Develop a syllabus for a real or prospective Political Science course

Experiential stream requirements

In addition to the above requirements, students who participate in the experiential stream of the program will be required to complete the following milestones.

PhD Experiential Seminar

The following mandatory professional development workshops must be completed:

  • Reflective practices in experiential learning (must be completed prior to internship placement) (offered by the Department)
  • Writing resumes (must be completed prior to internship placement) (Centre for Career Action)
  • Parallel career planning (Centre for Career Action)
  • MITACS or other campus partner module(s) (as approved by the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies)

PhD Internship

  • Students in the experiential stream have the option of undertaking an internship through Mitacs or finding an alternative placement (at the approval of the student’s supervisor and the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies). Students will be eligible to go on placements for periods ranging from four months to one year.

PhD Internship Report

  • Required for students who are participating in the experiential stream. Students must complete and submit a PhD Internship Report within one month of the completion of their placement.

Co-op option requirements

In addition to the above requirements, students who participate in the co-op option of the program will be required to complete the following:

PhD Experiential Seminar

The following mandatory professional development workshops must be completed:

  • Reflective practices in experiential learning (must be completed prior to internship placement) (offered by the Department)
  • Writing resumes (must be completed prior to internship placement) (Centre for Career Action)
  • Parallel career planning (Centre for Career Action)
  • MITACS or other campus partner module(s) (as approved by the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies)

Work-term placement

Students will usually seek placement(s) in their third or fourth year of study, after the completion of their courswork and comprehenesive exams. In order to satsify the requirements for the co-op option, 12 months of placement must be completed. Students may choose to work with a single employer for the duration of their work-term, or may choose/become matched with four or eight month work-terms to accumulate 12 months of experience.

Graduate Studies Work Report

Students must complete and submit 15-20 page (double-spaced) work-term report within one month of the completion of the work-term(s). Only one work-term report is required, if the student has multiple placements, a work-term report will be submitted after the final placement.