Political Science (PhD)

Concordia University
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Phd programs

Why pursue a Doctorate in Political Science?

Deepen your advanced training and creativity as an independent researcher while working alongside experts in Canadian and Quebec politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, and public administration and public policy. Conduct primary research through surveys, archival data collection and fieldwork as you develop an original contribution to the discipline.

The PhD in Political Science provides a stimulating environment for you to examine disciplinary subfields and gain a breadth of understanding in two areas of specialization. Research-active faculty members will help refine your analytical and writing skills, enabling you to better prepare your research for publication in top-ranking peer-reviewed academic journals.

Students have recently been published in multiple periodicals, including:

  • Ageing and Society
  • Canadian Political Science Review
  • International Journal of Public Administration
  • Journal of Defense Studies
  • Urbanités

Program details

Admission to the PhD in Political Science requires a Master of/Magisteriate in Arts in political science, political studies, international relations, public policy, or another relevant field from an accredited university. A superior academic record and strong references are both essential; professional work experience will be taken into consideration. Applicants are selected on the basis of past academic record, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, writing sample, and the relevance of their proposed research to the research expertise in the department. Enrolment in the PhD in Political Science is limited in part by the availability of research supervisors.

Proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the Graduate Admission page for further information on the Language Proficiency requirements and exemptions.

  1. Credits. A fully qualified candidate is required to complete a minimum of 90 credits. In order to fulfill the requirements of the program, students will select two areas of specialization. The requirements are 21 credits of course work, 12 credits in the form of two comprehensive exams, 3 credits of thesis proposal, and 54 credits of thesis.
  2. Courses (21 credits). All candidates must take seven 3-credit courses as described below: All students will select two areas of specialization (for example Canadian Politics and International Politics). Course work is divided into core courses and elective courses. Each student will take:
  3. 2 core courses, one in each of the two chosen areas of specialization (POLI 801-805 Advanced Seminars);
  4. 2 elective courses, one in each of the same two chosen areas of specialization (POLI 811-815);
  5. 1 core course in public policy (POLI 805), where public policy is one of the two chosen areas of specialization, the elective course is to be selected from a third area;
  6. 1 elective course from any area of specialization or a cognate course in a related field;
  7. 1 methods course (POLI 844). 
  8. Comprehensive Examination (12 credits in the form of 2 comprehensive examinations). All candidates are required to write two 6-credit comprehensive exams in their two areas of specialization, so that they are deemed competent to teach at the university level in these two areas. For each area of specialization there will be a written exam and an oral defence of the exam within three weeks of writing the former. Students must pass the written exam to move forward to the oral exam, but can still fail an exam with an incompetent oral performance. If either part (written or oral) is failed, the student will be permitted one re-take of the entire exam both oral and written. If the student then fails either the written or oral part, the second failure will result in the student being withdrawn from the program.
  9. Thesis Proposal (3 credits). After completion of the course work and comprehensive exams, the candidate with the concurrence and assistance of the Graduate Program Director finalizes the supervisory committee, consisting of the principal supervisor(s) and at least  two other members of the department. Students are required to complete and defend their thesis proposal before the supervisory committee in a meeting chaired by the Graduate Program Director. The thesis proposal will include a literature review and a fully justified research agenda. In cases where the supervisory committee is not satisfied with the proposal, the student can resubmit and re-defend. A second unsatisfactory proposal would result in the student being withdrawn from the program.
  10. Thesis (54 credits). Doctoral students must submit a thesis based on their research and defend it in an oral examination. A doctoral thesis should be based on extensive research in primary sources, make an original contribution to knowledge, and be presented in acceptable scholarly form.
  11. Language Requirement. PhD candidates must demonstrate an ability to conduct research either in French or in a language (other than English) required in their area of research. 
  • Application form and Fee
  • provide a synopsis of your research interests and goals
  • identify your particular fields of interest (i.e., intended fields of specialization)
  • explain how a PhD in Political Science from Concordia University will help you achieve your goals
  • identify at least one tenured or tenure-track faculty member with whom you would like to work. NB: students do not have to find a supervisor prior to admission
  • highlight how your research interests fits with ongoing research in the department
  • explain what makes you a good candidate for the program
  • Writing sample. You may submit any of the following as your writing sample:
  • introduction and one chapter of your master’s thesis;
  • a peer-reviewed publication for which you are the sole author;
  • a conference paper for which you are the sole author;
  • a MA-level term paper for which you received an “A” grade
  • Transcripts for all post-secondary institutions attended

Please apply online. Read the how-to guide for application procedures. 

  • Ageing and Public Policy
  • Gender and Global Politics
  • International Organizations

Students are guaranteed teaching assistantships for the first three years of their studies, valued at approximately $6,000 per year. Research assistant positions also exist for funded research but cannot be guaranteed. Individual faculty members determine if work opportunities are available based on their own research initiatives.

The opportunity to teach courses may also be available to students who have defended their dissertation proposals. These positions are awarded on a competitive basis and are valued at approximately $8,000 per semester.

Other awards available through the Faculty of Arts and Science include:

  • Concordia Merit Scholarship
  • JW McConnell Memorial Doctoral Fellowship
  • John W. O'Brien Graduate Fellowship
  • Conference Travel Awards

Consideration for Entrance Awards is automatically part of the admissions process for all new students.

  • Gender based analysis and gender mainstreaming
  • Gender politics
  • Clientelism and patronage politics
  • Political emotions

The Political Science Graduate Student Association (PSGSA) provides a platform to stimulate opportunities for all members in a variety of cultural, intellectual, political, recreational and social activities.

Recent initiatives of the PSGSA include a graduate student conference in which students from Quebec, Ontario and Atlantic Canada present their work and foster dialogue across multiple fields and disciplines. Past conference themes have included “Political and Economic Crises and their Implications,” “Challenges, Disconnects, and Clashes in Political Studies” and “Trends and Dynamics in Global Politics.”

Our alumni are well positioned to find success in a wide range of professional careers in policy research, political analysis, applied work, policy consulting and academia. Recent graduates can currently be found teaching at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, as well as working as senior managers and technical advisors at the International Aviation Transport Association and Micronutrient Initiative.

Read about our alumni career stories

Important information about admissions

Please be advised that Concordia University does not process admissions or fee payments through third parties for our degree programs. All applicants are advised to ensure that they are communicating directly with the university for admissions and fee payments.

Key resources

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, CanadaMontreal, Quebec, Canada

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Montr%C3%A9al%2C%20Canada

Montréal , Canada