Graduate Degree Requirements

The aim of the Ph.D. is to produce original research. Students begin producing original research in their first year in seminar classes. In their second year, students are paired with a faculty member for a one-on-one research practicum, the goal of which is a published paper. The fourth and fifth years are devoted to a dissertation.

Students choose one of two tracks as their major field of study: Political Institutions and Political Economy (PIPE) or Cognition and Behavior (CAB).  The other track becomes the student's minor field.  

The department also emphasizes the development of strong methodological skills which are essential for Political Scientists today. Five methodology classes are required – three specific classes are offered in the first year which all students must take, and then in the second and third years, students choose two electives from several offerings such as Maximum Likelihood Estimation, Game Theory, and Experimental Political Science.

The requirements for the degree are as follows:

A.      Methodology – 5 Courses

         POLI 200: Political Science Research Methods

          POLI 210: Quantitative Analysis of Political Data I

          POLI 211: Quantitative Analysis of Political Data II

          2 Electives

B.      Major (PIPE or CAB) – 4 Courses

C.      Minor (PIPE or CAB – whichever not taken as major) – 2 courses

D.      Electives (Drawn from Political Science or allied field such as Cognitive Science, Psychology, Sociology, or Economics) – 5 courses

E.       Research Practicum – 2 semesters

F.       Teaching Assistant – 2 semesters (non-credit, minimum)

G.     Dissertation

Students must also take a First Year Exam at the end of year one and pass a Comprehensive Exam at the beginning of the spring semester of year three.

For additional questions and inquiries, please contact the graduate program at


Contact Political Science

Political Science Chair
Stephen P. Nicholson, Professor
Political Science (General)
Political Science (Graduate)
Political Science Mailing Address
University of California, Merced
5200 North Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343
The first new American research
university in the 21st century, with a
mission of research, teaching and service.
University of California, Merced
5200 North Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343
T: (209) 228-4400
University of California, Merced


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