Loyola University Chicago

Department of Political Science

PhD in Political Science

The PhD program in political science is intended for students who wish to acquire careers in teaching and research or work in the government or the private sector. The focus includes the four fields of American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. Students will take most of their courses and specialize in two fields. One of the two fields will constitute the major field and the other the minor field. Interested students should refer to the Prospective PhD Students information page.

Degree Outcomes and Professional Success 

The PhD in Political Science offers students:

  • An in-depth understanding of the theories and scholarly literature in the subfields of Comparative Politics (study of political regimes, including the state, development and modernization, political, economic, and social movements), International Relations (study of global processes throughout the international system), American Politics (study of U.S. institutions and political processes), and Political Theory (study of political philosophy ranging from Ancient to Modern and Contemporary political thought).
  • Extensive methods training, including research design and statistical analysis, that will enable the successful candidate to effectively design and conduct research.
  • Research and teaching training by serving as both a research assistant for department faculty and professor of record for at least one class during the period of the PhD student’s funding.
  • An enhanced ability to express their thoughts in writing (all Political Science graduate classes include a significant writing component).
  • Preparation for careers in research and teaching at colleges and universities or work in the government, non-profit, and private sectors.

We also encourage our PhD students to take advantage of additional learning opportunities:

  • Advanced methodological training
  • Advanced language training/proficiency in a language other than English
  • Advanced research skills
  • International, cross-cultural experience
  • Professional development and experience
  • Networking opportunities

Degree Requirements

1. Completion of the Master's degree (those students who did not come to Loyola with an M.A. can take the MA comprehensive exam after having completed 10 courses, including PLSC 401, 475 and 476, and earn an MA).

2. Forty-eight semester hours (16 courses) of work, six hours (2 courses) of which can be in a related discipline. Required coursework includes:

a. Methodology (475 must be taken in the first fall semester):

  • PLSC 401: Research Design                   
  • PLSC 475: Techniques of Political Analysis I
  • PLSC 476: Techniques of Political Analysis II

b. Four classes (12 credits) in major field (International Relations, Comparative Politics, American Politics, or Political Theory) and three classes (9 credits) in minor field (International Relations, Comparative Politics, American Politics, or Political Theory).

c. Any 5 elective courses (15 credits), chosen from at least two subfields (International Relations, Comparative Politics, American Politics, or Political Theory).

d. One Directed Readings course (PLSC 499) to develop a dissertation proposal. This course should be taken in the last semester of that the student takes courses.

Note: Students may be required to develop language proficiency to conduct research for their doctoral dissertations. The Graduate School can offer tuition credit for PhD students who need to take language courses that are necessary for dissertation research.

3. Comprehensive Exams: Candidates must pass comprehensive examinations. The comprehensive examinations have both written and oral components. All course requirements, including removal of all existing incompletes, must be fulfilled before students can take the written comprehensive exam.

4. Dissertation Proposal and Dissertation: Candidates must complete and successfully defend both a dissertation proposal and the completed dissertation. Sometime in the third year of study, students are expected for form a dissertation committee, with the assistance of the Graduate Program Director.

Note: Students may transfer up to 12 semester hours (4 courses) of graduate credit from another university program based on an evaluation of their transcript. Students must complete four semesters of residence, including at least two consecutive semesters at Loyola. At least one academic year (two consecutive semesters) must be spent as a full-time student. 


Acceptance is based on a consideration of the following:

  • Online application (free)
  • Undergraduate academic record (applicant must provide all college transcripts)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose, not to exceed two single-spaced pages, describing academic interests and professional goals
  • CV/ resume
  • Please see the Prospective Doctoral Students Webpage for additional explanation of the above requirements.

Acceptance will be on a rolling basis, with a February 15th application deadline.

Program Length & Time Limits 

The average time-frame nation-wide for students to earn the PhD is six years. Completing the course work and passing the comprehensive exams normally takes two-and-a-half to three years, the remainder of the time to degree is principally up to the student. Some of our students have completed the PhD in just under five years.

Graduate School regulations require students entering the program with a Bachelor's Degree to complete all Ph.D. requirements, including the dissertation, within eight years of taking their first course in the degree program. Students admitted to the doctoral program with a Master's degree must complete all Ph.D. requirements, including the dissertation, within six years of the start of their program. A student failing to meet these deadlines may submit a petition to the Graduate Studies Committee requesting an extension of the relevant deadline. The final authority to extend the time limits resides in the Graduate School.

For further information, please contact Professor Eric Hansen, Graduate Program Director for Political Science, at ehansen4@luc.edu or 773.508.3053.