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Ph.D. Program
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      Fall 2005
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Graduate School Application

Graduate Program Director
Professor Jonathan Nagler
Director of Graduate Studies
Graduate Contact Information
Carlos Rios
Administrative Aide, Graduate Program
New York University
19 West 4th St. 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012

Applications can be found at the GSAS admissions page; Online applications are also available. Please note the application deadline of December 15, 2005.


The goal of the Ph.D. program is to prepare students to conduct research, to teach, or to work in applied settings at the best institutions in the United States and abroad. To achieve this goal, the program specifies the distribution of courses, the substance and timing of requirements, the forms of faculty supervision, and the criteria for advancement within the program.

Admission: The general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required of all students, including all international students applying from countries in which the GRE is offered. All international students are also required to submit the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. Letters of recommendation must clearly indicate that an applicant is capable of successfully pursuing the doctorate. The applicant is also required to submit a writing sample and statement of educational background and objectives. A bachelor's degree is required for admission to the Ph.D. program. A Master of Arts degree is not a requirement for admission to the Ph.D program.

Course Requirements: Students must complete 72 points (18 courses) beyond the B.A. degree. There are no department- wide course requirements. To guard against excessive specialization, students must take at least three courses (12 points) in each of at least two fields. Course credits transferred from another institution may count toward the fulfillment of this requirement. The fields presently recognized by the department include (1) political philosophy and theory, (2) political methodology, (3) American politics, (4) political economy, (5) comparative politics, and (6) international relations. In consultation with their adviser, students may petition the director of graduate studies (DGS) to create a field of their own making. Such a field may be interdisciplinary. Doctoral students are expected to maintain a 3.5 grade point average.

When entering the program, students should declare their intended major, which can be changed at any time in consultation with the student's adviser. A student specializing in any recognized field may have to satisfy course requirements established by faculty in this field. Admission to some advanced courses may be conditional on students having taken some other courses or having an equivalent background. In all cases, students must consult their adviser to plan a comprehensive program of courses and inform their adviser of any changes.

There are no limits on courses taken in other departments or other university members of the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (other than those specified by the GSAS). Students are encouraged to develop knowledge and acquire methodological skills in sister disciplines.

To train themselves in academic research and writing, students are encouraged to write research papers, typically by applying or developing the work of a particular course in subsequent reading and research courses. The two required papers, the M.A. paper and the Ph.D. qualifying paper (see below), are normally prepared in this way.

Students who have satisfied all the requirements of a particular course other than the final examination or paper and who present a written proposal for a research paper related to this course may ask the instructor for a research in progress (RIP) grade. Students who receive this grade are expected to take a reading and research course during the subsequent semester(s) to research and write the paper. This grade is reported to the registrar as IP (Incomplete Pass) but is distinguished by the department from Incomplete grades for all other purposes, including financial decisions. On completing the research paper, the student receives final grades for the courses.

M.A. Paper: Students who enter the program without an M.A. degree must present a written M.A. paper by no later than the beginning of their second year. The specific requirements for the paper depend on the field, but the general rule is that it should have the format of an article in this field. The topic of the M.A. paper should be chosen in consultation with faculty members. On completion, the paper is submitted for reading by two faculty members chosen by the director of graduate studies (DGS), no later than within two months after submission. The paper can receive a high pass, a low pass, or a failing grade.

If the paper does not receive a unanimous high pass, the student may revise and resubmit it by no later than the beginning of the fourth semester of residence. If the paper receives a low pass and the student maintains at least a 3.0 grade point average, the student is granted the M.A. degree but must leave the program. If the paper receives a failing grade or if the student's grade point average is below 3.0, no degree is granted. If the revised paper receives different grades from the two readers, the DGS appoints a third reader and the expanded committee will decide the grade. A student whose M.A. paper and grade record are satisfactory is considered to have advanced toward the Ph.D.

M.A. Waiver: Students entering with an M.A. degree from an equivalent institution may petition for a waiver of up to one year of course requirements (equivalent of 24 points). For this purpose, a copy of the M.A. thesis (in any language that can be read by at least two faculty members) must be submitted to the director of graduate studies (DGS) when the student enters the program. The DGS appoints two faculty members as readers to decide whether the thesis is equivalent in standards and quality to the department's requirements. If the M.A. thesis is approved, the student submits the waiver petition to the DGS at the end of the first year of residence. In consultation with the readers, the DGS decides whether or not to waive residence requirements on the basis of the M.A. thesis and the grade record of the student during the first year at New York University.

Communications Requirement: Doctoral students must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English. The Graduate School of Arts and Science determines which languages qualify, but another language can be substituted on recommendation of the student's adviser and the director of graduate studies and with approval of the language coordinator. A student whose native language is not English should consult the director of graduate studies regarding fulfillment of the communications requirement.

Ph.D. Qualifying Examination: No later than the end of the fifth semester in residence (third semester for students who receive an M.A. waiver), students must complete the Ph.D. qualifying examination, which consists of the submission of a qualifying paper (QP) and the oral defense of a syllabus.

The QP is a research paper of publishable quality, satisfying all formal requirements for an article in a given field. Before writing the paper, students should submit a brief proposal to at least two faculty members, who become "readers" on approving this proposal. The topic (but not necessarily the field) of the QP must differ from that of the M.A. paper, and the two papers must be read by at least four different readers. The work on the QP can be and should be assisted by faculty. Readers evaluate this paper within two months of submission. The readers have the option of accepting the paper, suggesting revisions, or rejecting the paper. If invited to do so, the student may revise the paper and resubmit it within six months. If the revision is not accepted by both readers, the student is considered to have failed this requirement.

Students must also submit an original syllabus for a graduate introduction to a field. This syllabus should attest to the understanding of the structure of the field, as well as to the knowledge of the primary and secondary literature. This syllabus is presented at an oral hearing to two faculty members, who then pass or fail the syllabus and its defense. Students who successfully complete both of these requirements qualify as candidates for the Ph.D. degree. Students who do not satisfy both requirements by the end of the third year (second year for students who receive an M.A. waiver) are required by the department to leave the program, save for exceptional circumstances.

Dissertation: After completing the qualifying examination, students must present a Ph.D. dissertation proposal. The proposal ordinarily should be presented before the end of the third year in residence (second year for students who receive an M.A. waiver). Students who do not present a proposal within one calendar year of passing their qualifying examination must petition the DGS to be allowed to do so.

The proposal should specify the problem to be researched, summarize the current state of knowledge, describe research procedures, and identify the bodies of relevant information. It should be no more than 15 single-spaced pages, plus a bibliography. A dissertation committee (see below) must approve the proposal. When all members are satisfied with the proposal, the committee meets with the student in an advisory hearing. Acceptance of the proposal signals that the student has satisfied all the requirements for the Ph.D. degree other than the dissertation.

The dissertation must constitute a substantial body of original research of publishable quality. Except by the expressed permission of the chair of the department, the dissertation should not exceed 100,000 words. Once members of the committee approve the dissertation, an oral defense is scheduled.

After the student's thesis director approves the dissertation and the dissertation committee agrees that it is ready for defense, a final oral defense is scheduled before a panel of five faculty members appointed by the chair of the department or the director of graduate studies. The GSAS regulates the procedures for this defense.

The department expects students to complete the dissertation and its defense within four years after finishing course requirements. GSAS regulations require students to complete them within ten years from entering the graduate program (seven years for those entering with an M.A. from another university).

Advising: On entering the program, each student is assigned a preliminary adviser after a consultation with the DGS. Students are free to change their adviser at any time during their residence. They should inform the DGS of such changes.

In the month of April of the first year in the program, students meet with members of their advisory committee (comprising their adviser and one faculty member with whom they have worked) to discuss the substance of their research, progress in the program, and future plans. Advice for fall registration may also be given at this meeting. The DGS notifies all first-year students of the need to schedule this meeting with the adviser and sends a copy of each notice and report form to the adviser. Following the meeting, the adviser submits a brief report for the student's file.

Before beginning to work on the qualifying paper, students must form a QP committee consisting of two readers (see above). Students should keep this committee informed about the progress of their research. Before beginning to work on the Ph.D. dissertation, students must form a thesis committee, comprising at least three faculty members (the committee chair and two members), of whom at least two must be members of the department. Students should consult with the committee while preparing the proposal and working on the thesis.

The Graduate Office maintains a progress checklist for each student, showing the adviser, major and minor fields, M.A. paper topic and readers, QP topic and committee, and dissertation topic and committee. The fellowship evaluation and progress (FEP) committee uses this checklist to oversee the progress of all students in the program.

Regular Progress: A student is considered to be making satisfactory progress as long as she or he does the following:

1. Submits a previously written M.A. thesis on entering the program or consults with faculty about writing the M.A. paper during the first semester in the program.

2. Submits the M.A. paper by the beginning of the third semester or, if invited to do so, resubmits it by the beginning of the fourth semester.

3. Submits the QP and the syllabus and defends the syllabus by the end of the fifth semester (third for students entering with an equivalent M.A. degree) or, if invited to do so, resubmits the QP and defends the syllabus by the end of the sixth semester.

4. Defends the Ph.D. proposal within six months of passing the Ph.D. qualifying examination.

Students who are not making satisfactory progress are notified by the DGS and must petition the fellowship evaluation and progress (FEP) committee to be allowed to continue in the program. With regard to points 1 through 3 above, this request is granted only if the delay is caused by exceptional circumstances. With regard to point 4, it is sufficient that the student demonstrates reasonable progress.

All references to time are based on a calendar of effective semesters (normally 12 points). Hence, part-time students may take a longer period to satisfy the requirements.

Nonmatriculated Students: Under special circumstances, nonmatriculants (students who are not working toward a degree) may enroll for one course per semester with permission of the director of graduate studies. Nonmatriculants can earn cumulatively no more than 12 points in the Graduate School of Arts and Science.

Ph.D. Degree Program in Politics with an Emphasis in Near Eastern Studies: The program enables political scientists to acquire a regional specialization in the Near East. The program includes six courses on the Near East (four of them taken outside the Department of Politics) and several electives. For details, see the director of graduate studies.

Joint Ph.D. Degree Program in Politics and French Studies: For students interested in French and European politics, the department offers a joint Ph.D. degree program with the Institute of French Studies. The program gives students broad training in French culture, society, economics, and politics. Courses are offered in both French and English. Fluency in French is required for this program. For details see the director of graduate studies.

Departmental Fellowships, Prizes, and Awards

A comprehensive list of University, Graduate School, and departmental fellowships, prizes, and awards appears in the Financing Graduate Education section of the GSAS Application for Admission and Financial Aid.