Special Minors

Students may pursue minors outside the four traditional subfields of political science. The most common such minors are quantitative methods, economics, political economic theory, and law. The department has defined requirements for these "special minors."

Declaration of special minor

Students must declare a special minor by the end of their third semester by completing the appropriate form as indicated below in the description and requirements for each minor field.

Comprehensive Exams for special minors

With the exception of the economics minor, special minors do not take a minor field comprehensive exam. Instead, students write and defend a special minor paper, which is graded by a committee of three faculty members. These papers must be defended with a passing grade by the end of January of the student’s third year in the Ph.D. program.

The department advises students pursuing special minors to complete course requirements and defend special minor papers by the beginning of the fifth semester. Special minor paper defenses should take place no later than early in the fifth semester Defending the minor paper early in the fifth semester will allow time for any revisions needed for a passing grade to be completed before the January deadline.

Deadline for completion of special minors

All special minor requirements must be completed by the end of January of the student’s third year in the Ph.D. program. Students who fail to complete minor field requirements by this deadline will not be eligible to receive the M.Phil. degree and will be terminated from the program.

Failure to defend a special minor paper on time is equivalent to failing comprehensive exams twice.

The minor in quantitative methods (“methods,” or “methodology”) is intended for political science doctoral students whose research plans call for a strong background in statistics or mathematical modeling.

The minor will usually include four or more courses in statistical or formal methods taught at the graduate level. Students may take graduate level courses in the Departments of Economics, Sociology, and Statistics or in the Business School. Students pursuing the minor should submit for approval by the Methods Coordinator and Director of Graduate Studies an application containing the following

  • a proposal for a particular course of study
  • a statement of research plans
  • the names of at least three faculty members, which may include one outside the Department of Political Science, who have agreed to serve as advisers and examiners

After the completion of all coursework, the student will submit and defend a research paper that demonstrates ability to deploy advanced quantitative methods and/or mathematical modeling in service of substantive research in political science.

Successful defense of the methods paper and the maintenance of a 3.0 average in the quantitative courses taken for the minor will determine whether the student has successfully completed the minor in quantitative methods.

The exam paper may not be used for seminar credit in any other course, and it may not be used to fulfill the Mini-APSA requirement.

No course taken in fulfillment of the research tool requirement may count toward any part of the minor in quantitative methods, and no course taken in fulfillment of the minor in quantitative methods may count toward the research tool requirement.

The economics minor is intended for political science doctoral students whose research plans call for a strong background in an area of economics.

To be admitted to the minor, a student must submit for approval by the Economics Coordinator or Director of Graduate Studies an application containing the following:

  • a statement of research plans;
  • a proposal for a particular course of study;
  • the names of at least two faculty members, including one who is a member of the Department of Economics, who have agreed to serve as advisers and examiners

Upon completion of all coursework, the student's advisers will prepare and grade an examination that covers the material the student proposed to study.

Information about the course sequence for completing the economics minor should be obtained from the Department of Economics.

For a minor in law, students must take no fewer than three courses in the School of Law and must work with three professors, at least one of whom is appointed in the Department of Political Science, who agree to read an original research paper (i.e., a new paper that has not been prepared for course credit) and conduct an oral defense of the paper. The Director of Graduate Studies must approve these arrangements.

The minor in political economic theory is intended for political science doctoral students whose research plans call for a strong background in theoretical economic models of political institutions and behavior.The minor will usually include four courses.

Students pursuing the minor should submit for approval by the Political Economic Theory Coordinator or the Director of Graduate Studies an application containing the following

  • a proposal for a particular course of study
  • a statement of research plans
  • the names of at least three faculty members, which may include one outside the Department of Political Science, who have agreed to serve as advisers and examiners

Students are required to take:

  • GU4730 (Game Theory and Political Theory) or an approved substitute
  • W4732 (Research Topics in Game Theory)

And two additional elective courses, the first normally chosen from among

  • POLS GR8211 (Formal Theory of Institutions)
  • ECON GR6492 (Political Economics).

The second elective may be another course subject to approval by the minor coordinator. Alternatives include any political science doctoral seminar with an extensive formal theory component, or a course from the Economics department such as GR6225 (Topics in Economic Analysis) or GR6219 (Advanced Micro II).

After the completion of all coursework, the student will submit and defend a research paper demonstrating ability to deploy formal modeling in service of research in political science. A “satisfactory” grade on this paper, the maintenance of a B average in the courses taken for the minor, and a satisfactory performance in the student's oral exam will determine whether the student has successfully completed the minor.

The paper may not be used for seminar credit in any other course. No course taken in fulfillment of the research tool requirement may count toward any part of the minor in political economic theory, and no course taken in fulfillment of the minor in political economic theory may count toward the research tool requirement.

Students may, with department approval, fulfill the minor field requirement by constructing a minor field (an individually designed minor). Individually designed minor fields must be directly relevant to topics in the field of political science, but may include work in disciplines other than political science.

Any student who wishes to fulfill the minor field requirement with a special minor must submit a proposal for this field to the Director of Graduate Studies and receive approval from the Director of Graduate Studies and another faculty sponsor. The proposal must specify three courses the student will take in the special minor field, one of which must be equivalent in scope to the department’s field survey courses (note that this course is taken in addition to the three departmental field survey courses). In addition, the student must submit an original research paper in the special minor field and must successfully defend the research paper to a committee of three members of the faculty, at least one of whom must be a member of the Department of Political Science.

The student will be certified by the Director of Graduate Studies to have fulfilled the minor field requirement when he or she has taken and passed the three minor field courses with an average grade of B or better, submitted the research paper, and passed the oral examination.