Political science studies institutions of power, the role of interest groups and individuals, the nature of policy preferences, the study of the democratic process and the institutions that support it, and the relationship between inequality and political participation. The department is home to over fifty faculty members who work in the fields of American politics, comparative politics, political economy, formal and quantitative methods, international relations, political theory and public law.
The Joint Degree Program in Politics and Social Policy is run by the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Politics. Students who complete the program will be awarded a doctoral degree in Politics and Social Policy. Conceived as a “discipline plus” degree, doctoral candidates are at once full members of the Politics Department and participants in an additional interdisciplinary program that focuses on the causes, consequences, and remedies for inequality in the United States and abroad. The requirements of the JDP are designed to be integrated with the requirements of the regular Politics doctoral program. The program is designed to appeal to students who want to pursue academic careers in traditional disciplinary departments, but at the same time, the JDP is intended to attract students who see themselves, now and in the future, as committed to the study of social issues of public importance.
Of particular interest to JDP-Politics students are the ongoing research programs of the faculty in American politics, the comparative scholars who focus on the social welfare states of Western Europe, and political scientists interested in questions of state development, conflict, human rights, and civil society in Africa, Asia, South Asia, Japan, and Latin America.
The Center for the Study of Democratic Politics serves as a hub for American politics and boasts a powerful groups of scholars who work on empirical studies of the political processes and institutions including the study of policy preferences, differential rates of political participation, voting behavior, the legislative process, political communication, urban politics and the role of race in American political life.
Comparative politics encompasses the study of the welfare state, most especially the political economy of the OECD countries, the regulation of labor markets, the relationship between wage inequality, income distribution and policy preferences for redistribution and social protection. The advent of the European Union has catalyzed new research agendas that focus on questions of political integration and policy harmonization in a context of divergent economies and levels of inequality within and between states. The consequences of extreme inequality for political stability and participation are of particular interest to students working in developing countries.
JDP-Politics students can participate in the many stimulating research centers on campus, including the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, the Bobst Center for International Peace and Justice, the Niehaus Center for Global Governance, the University Center for Human Values, and the Law and Public Affairs Program.
Students are normally admitted into the Joint Degree Program at the time of their admission to the university. For such “external” applications, students must indicate their interest in Social Policy at the time of their application to the Politics Ph.D. program. Students must be admitted by both the Department of Politics and the interdisciplinary social policy faculty in order to join the Joint Degree Program. Students may still be selected for the admission to the Ph.D. program in the Department of Politics, even if they are not admitted to the Joint Degree Program.
If positions are available, students in the Ph.D. program in Politics may also transfer into the Joint Degree Program through “internal” applications in the spring of their first year.
More information about JDP admissions can be found at the Joint Degree Program in Social Policy site.
Students in the Joint Degree Program complete the normal set of requirements for the Politics program. Social Policy normally serves as the third general exam field for students in the program. The Social Policy field is a course-out only field; there is no written exam in Social Policy. Two of the courses for the field consist of the required two-semester core course, “Problems in Social Policy,” which is completed in the second year of the program. A third course outside the Department of Politics in a thematically related area would complete the three-course sequence in Social Policy.
JDP-Politics students are also required to take a one-semester “Workshop in Social Policy” in the Fall of the third year and attend the “Advanced Research in Social Policy” course, both of which are designed to facilitate dissertation research in the field. JDP-Politics students are required to present part of their dissertation to fellow students in the Joint Degree Program in the “Advanced Research in Social Policy” course. The “Workshop in Social Policy” does not count toward the Politics seminar requirement.
JDP-Politics students must lead six precepts attached to faculty-taught undergraduate courses during their five years of enrollment, normally after passing the General Examination. This requirement is reduced from the regular Politics requirement in light of the additional course requirements of the Social Policy program. The requirement of six preceptorials is reduced to three if students graduate within four and a half years or being a tenure-track job or its equivalent within five years.
More information on the Joint Degree Program can be found at the Joint Degree Program in Social Policy