Ph.D. in Political Science

 Jane Okwako, Ph.D.

Why choose a Ph.D. at Western Michigan University?

Why a Ph.D. from WMU? There are many reasons: academic rigor, outstanding faculty, a successful placement record and a livable city, to name a few. Read more.

meet our current doctoral students

View a listing of the department's current doctoral students and read more about their backgrounds and interests.

Admissions requirements

The Graduate College at Western Michigan University requires the following from Doctor of Philosophy applicants within the Department of Political Science:

  • Must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have achieved a 3.25 GPA in the last two years of their bachelor’s degree.
  • Students who have completed at least 20 hours of graduate coursework must have an overall GPA of 3.25 for that graduate work.
  • Students with less than 20 hours of graduate work must have a GPA of 3.0 as an undergraduate and 3.25 for all graduate courses.
  • International applicants may have additional university required items. WMU International Admissions and Services counselors can assist international students in questions regarding these items. Many answers can also be found at including contact information.

In addition, the department requires:

  • Students applying with a bachelor's degree must have completed at least 24 hours of coursework in the social sciences (anthropology, economics, history, political science, sociology) or other relevant fields and have achieved a 3.25 GPA. Students applying with a master's degree must have a GPA of at least 3.25 for all graduate work.
  • Graduate Record Examination scores for the quantitative, verbal and analytical parts are required for all students.
  • Additional materials to be submitted include a brief essay about the student’s academic and professional objectives, two writing samples, a curriculum vita and three recommendations (on WMU Graduate Reference Forms).

Prerequisite (noncredit): Students must have completed an undergraduate statistics course (PSCI 3950 or its equivalent).

Application Information


The department offers graduate assistantships for a limited number of students on a competitive basis. Assistantship stipends include tuition remission and start in the fall semester only. Indicate that you are applying for an assistantship while completing your application.

Return the completed application by the February 1 deadline to apply. 

Program Requirements

At Western Michigan University, the Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Political Science requires a minimum of 90 credit hours of work beyond the baccalaureate. Up to 30 hours of credit may apply from a recognized master's degree. The precise number that will apply will be at the discretion of the graduate director.

Core requirements, research methods and comprehensive exams

See the Graduate Catalog for detailed information.

Naomi presentingDissertation

The doctoral dissertation is an original and substantive research requirement that serves as the capstone to the Ph.D. program.

In conjunction with their dissertation advisor, students select a topic and then, under the advisor's direction, prepare the dissertation. A doctoral dissertation committee approves the dissertation and administers the final oral examination in its defense.

Each committee consists of at least three members from the Department of Political Science and one additional member drawn from another department within or outside WMU. The student's major dissertation advisor serves as chair of the committee. The outside person serves as a bona fide, fully participating committee member.

Before students are awarded the doctoral degree, all doctoral committee members must approve the dissertation and its oral defense and the dissertation must be in a form acceptable to the department and the Graduate College. Committee approval of the dissertation is not final until students make all the required modifications, revisions and other changes as required by the committee.

Advising and forms

See the M.A. and Ph.D. advising page and the graduate forms page for detailed information.