Graduate Studies (Ph.D.)

Political Science (Ph.D.) | Graduate

The study of political science at Howard transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries found at most other institutions. We train students in the empirical analysis of political processes, systems, and behavior, and center the study of African American and Black Diaspora politics from the study of global liberation movements to an examination of Black political sphere.

The Ph.D. in Political Science at Howard’s Graduate School prepares students for careers in academia, public affairs, policy, law, and foreign affairs as well as for senior-level research and consulting positions. You will benefit from Howard's premier location at the nexus of American politics and policymaking in Washington, D.C., and have access to a network of top-ranked and nationally recognized research institutions, consulting firms, think tanks, and government agencies. As a doctoral student in the Political Science program, you may choose from four distinct fields of specialization: American politics, Black politics, comparative politics, and international relations. You will have the opportunity to shape your course of study in two major subfields and one minor subfield and pursue significant original research tailored to your individualized program of study. The Department of Political Science aims to retain and expand its position as a major source of political scientists concerned with issues impacting the lives of people of African descent. Our graduate students benefit from the close mentorship of graduate faculty notable for its political commentary across major media outlets and for its wide-ranging research, including empirically grounded comparative analysis of state and non-state political phenomena; the study of electoral politics within Black communities; and the examination of political change, nationalist ideology, and global liberation movements.

  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • 72-credit hours
  • Full-time
  • On-campus format
  • Transfer credits accepted upon review
  • GRE not required
  • Deadline: April 1 for Fall admissions (with rolling admission decisions)


Robinson Woodward-Burns, Ph.D.
Director of Graduate Studies

Clarence Lusane, Ph.D.
Interim Chair

Elizabeth Coates
Administrative Officer

Degree Requirements

Ph.D. students must select two majors and one minor course area. The major course areas will be the ones in which you will sit for a comprehensive exam. Students must take four courses in that field, which will include the core course for that area (as listed above). For the minor concentration area, students must take three courses in that field, but there is no comprehensive exam.

Course Courses (15 CR)

  • POLS 232    Nature & Uses of Political Theory
  • POLS 292    Seminar in American Politics
  • POLS 227    Introduction to Black Politics 
  • POLS 204    Approaches to Comparative Politics 
  • POLS 287    Theories of International Relations

Major and Minor Field Courses (27 CR)

  • 18 credits in two chosen major subfields (9 credits for each major subfield)
  • 9 credits in a chosen minor subfield

Research Tools (9 CR)

  • POLS 217    Methods of Political Science
  • POLS 254    Behavioral Research Methods 
  • POLS 257 / POLS 279   Multivariate Statistics; or Survey Research Method; or a graduate research methods course; or proficiency in a foreign language that a student will use in their scholarly research

Elective Courses (9 CR)

Dissertation (12 CR)

Admission to Candidacy 

Students are admitted to formal candidacy by the Graduate School when they have completed the required coursework, passed the qualifying examination, submitted an approved topic for research, and been recommended by the Department. Candidates must also have satisfied the Graduate School writing proficiency requirement and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement.

Graduate Funding 

Admitted students are eligible to compete for Graduate School competitive awards. Graduate research or teaching assistantships may be available at the department level that provide tuition remission and/or a stipend during the academic year. Research assistants and teaching assistants work no more than 20 hours a week under the program's direction, usually in support of faculty research (research assistants) or in support of assigned courses (teaching assistants). Please see the Funding website for more detailed information.

Online GradCAS 

  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
    • Official transcripts sent to GradCAS
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose/ Statement of academic interest (500-1,000 words)
  • Critical writing sample of academic research on a political or public policy topic
  • Autobiographical statement (500-750 words)
    • GRE scores not required 

    GPA Required Minimums

    • Overall GPA minimum: 3.5
    • Undergraduate GPA minimum: 3.5

    Recommendation Requirements

    Recommendation types accepted:

    • Professor (required)
    • Supervisor or Manager

    Recommendation types not accepted:

    • Coworker
    • Clergy
    • Friends or Family