Government Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study


Program Description

Students are expected to acquire a thorough knowledge of the discipline, including substantial theoretical, conceptual, and substantive competence in a major subject; to provide a clear demonstration of the methodological, linguistic, and other skills needed to conduct original scholarly research; and to acquire at least one semester's experience as a teaching assistant. Students who have not had equivalent course work are expected to take three of the four field seminars in the major subjects.

Numerous interdisciplinary programs are available, and include the Cornell Center for Social Sciences, the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, the Society for the Humanities, the Peace Studies Program, and various area programs.

Doctoral students are assigned an interim supervisor upon admission. In the second year, students assemble a temporary Special Committee which guides and supervises subsequent academic preparation and assists in preparation for Q exam and field papers (if required). In the third year, students assembled their final Special Committee which supervises the A exam and all subsequent dissertation research

By the end of the second year of residence, or sooner if possible, students are expected to have taken the Admission to Candidacy examination. The exam consists of a written exam in the student's major subject. Students specializing in International Relations and Comparative Politics are required to compose an extended research paper in the student's specialized field of interest before the beginning of the third year. . Students are required to complete their A exam (prospectus defense) by the end of the third year. At this oral exam, the student presents a thesis proposal outlining the hypothesis, data, methods, and resources needed to carry out the dissertation research. 

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-3567

213 White Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • American politics
  • comparative politics
  • international relations
  • political methodology (minor)
  • political thought
  • public policy (minor)


Visit the Graduate School's Tuition Rates page.

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Dec. 15; no spring admission

Requirements Summary:

PLEASE NOTE: All materials must be uploaded to the online application system. Applications and additional materials are due on Dec. 15; this is a firm deadline and late applications will not be considered.

Admission is offered for the fall term only. 

Learning Outcomes

The doctoral program prepares students for a successful career in political science.  It provides them with:

  • A broad and in-depth knowledge of the scholarship and methodologies of the discipline
  • An ability to conduct original and publishable research in their field of study
  • Ability to teach effectively at the undergraduate and graduate level
  • Ability to contribute productively to the intellectual life of the profession