Political Institutions

The Political Institutions field can be chosen as a major (first field) or minor (second field or third field) for doctoral training by students wanting a specialized concentration on the politics of national political institutions in the United States. In particular, this field provides (a) special attention to the Congress, the Presidency and the Judiciary and (b) assessment of the political linkages and interactions among them, as seen for example in the roles played by political parties, interest groups and mass communication processes in shaping institutional politics.

Students can combine the major or minor in Political Institutions with a major or minor in any other doctoral training field in the department, including Political Behavior, Public Policy, or American Politics and Government, with one proviso: Students must have at least one field of concentration outside of the broad area of American politics.

Students taking a major or minor in Political Institutions thus can have an additional major or minor in only one of the three areas of doctoral concentration in American Politics: Political Behavior, Public Policy, or American Politics and Government. Their third field (whether major or minor) must be in Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, or Research Methods.

First Field Requirements

Summary of First Field Requirements (5 courses for a total of 15 credits)

  • POS 6045: Seminar in American Politics
  • Four additional seminars
      • Two courses in “core” national institutions
      • Two courses in “linkages” among institutions

These are minimum requirements. Students committed to a strong research and teaching career in the area are strongly advised to take additional courses in Political Institutions.

Number of Electives

Students must take four additional courses in Political Institutions, beyond the required core seminar (POS 6045), with two of these additional courses addressing “core” institutions and two addressing “linkages” among institutions.

A Ph.D. candidate with a separate examination field in American Politics and Government, Political Behavior or Public Policy may not select the courses (i.e. Presidency, Political Parties) used in that separate field to qualify for prelims in the field of American Institutions.

Within this constraint, students majoring in Political Institutions can take as many elective topical courses in Political Institutions as they wish, above the four Institutions courses that are required for a major in Institutions.

Field Examination

  • Written component: answer three questions in 72 hours
  • Oral defense: scheduled after written component

Committee Selection

Prelim committees in Political Institutions are composed of three faculty members. The chair of the candidate’s Supervisory Committee in Institutions will serve on the prelim committee as its chair. Generally it is expected that the chair of the Supervisory Committee will chair the student’s dissertation, but students retain the right to change chairs and dissertation topics after prelims.

The Supervisory Committee chair will choose an additional institutions member to serve on the prelim committee. The student will choose one additional member from the Institutions area to serve on the committee. The prelim committee chair will designate the committee members who are responsible for writing questions for the written prelim, with special attention to courses in the Institutions area taken by the student.

The prelim committee chair can add more members to the prelim committee, under special circumstances and in consultation with the student and the institutions field chair. Special circumstances could include situations in which the broad research and topical interests of a student would be best addressed through an expansion in committee size. Students should be notified of the addition of members to the committee at least 24 hours in advance.

The examination committee will work with the student prior to the examination to confirm areas of concentration, and otherwise counsel the student in preparation for the examination.

The examination committee will then compose the three questions for the exam, doing so in a manner specified by the Supervisory Committee chair. Generally, one member will prepare the broad and synthetic question(s), as detailed below, and two members will prepare specialized questions, as detailed below.

It is the responsibility of the candidate to arrange for the composition of the examination committee and to consult with its members on a regular basis in preparation for the examination.

Examination Questions

  • Section I: Students will be asked to answer one question of a broad and synthetic nature drawn from the core Institutions seminar (POS 6045). The exam writer can offer students a choice among two general questions, if he or she so wishes.
  • Section II: Students will be asked to answer one question in the specific area of core national institutions. The exam writer can offer students a choice among two questions, if he or she so wishes.
  • Section III: Students will be asked to answer one question in the specific area of linkages among institutions. The exam writer can offer students a choice among two questions, if he or she so wishes.

Examination Length

Students must use ASA (APSR) style to cite the relevant literature and include a bibliography at the end. Endnotes are also permitted. Students have a maximum of 8 to 10 double-spaced pages for each answer, excluding endnotes and bibliography. They can take no more than 30 pages across the three questions they answer, excluding notes and bibliography. They must use a font side of at least 12 (no smaller).

Second Field Requirements

Summary of Second Field Requirements (3 courses for a total of 9 credits)

  • POS 6045: American Politics
  • Two additional seminars
      • One course in “core” national institutions
      • One course in “linkages” among institutions

Number of Electives

Students must take at least two additional courses in Political Institutions, beyond the core seminar (POS 6045) to qualify for a second field minor in the area.

A Ph.D. candidate with a separate examination field in American Politics and Government, Political Behavior or Public Policy may not select the courses (i.e. Presidency, Political Parties) used in that field to qualify for minor prelims in the field of American Institutions.

Within this constraint, students taking a second field minor in Political Institutions can take as many elective topical courses across the Institutions field as they wish, above the three Institutions courses that are required for a minor in Institutions.

Field Examination

  • Written component: answer two questions in 48 hours
  • Oral defense: scheduled after written component

Committee Selection

Second field prelim committees in Political Institutions are composed of three faculty members who should evidence breadth across the core institutions and linkage areas of concentration. The student will choose two members from the Institutions area, including the examination committee chair, and the Institutions field chair will appoint one additional member.

The prelim committee chair can add more members to the prelim committee, under special circumstances and in consultation with the student and the institutions field chair. Special circumstances could include situations in which the broad research and topical interests of a student would be best addressed through an expansion in committee size. Students should be notified of the addition of members to the committee at least 24 hours in advance.

The examination committee will work with the student prior to the examination to confirm areas of concentration, and otherwise counsel the student in preparation for the examination. The examination committee will then compose the three questions for the exam, doing so in a manner specified by the committee chair. Generally, one member will prepare the broad and synthetic question(s), as detailed below, and one member will prepare the specialized question, as detailed below.

It is the responsibility of the candidate to arrange for the composition of the examination committee and to consult with its members on a regular basis in preparation for the examination.

Examination Questions

  • Section I: One question in the general area of political institutions as addressed in POS 6045.
  • Section II: One question in a specialized area of the student’s choice.

Note: Faculty members preparing questions for the different sections have the option of constructing two or more questions in a section and asking the student to choose one question to answer.

Examination Length

Students must use ASA (APSR) style to cite the relevant literature and include a bibliography at the end. Endnotes are also permitted. Students have a maximum of 8 to 10 double-spaced pages for each answer, excluding endnotes and bibliography. They can take no more than 20 pages across the two questions they answer, excluding notes and bibliography. They must use a font side of at least 12 (no smaller).

Third Field Requirements

Summary of Third Field Requirements (2 courses for a total of 6 credits)

  • POS 6045: Seminar in American Politics
  • One additional seminar

Number of Electives

Students must take at least one additional course in Political Institutions, aside from the core seminar (POS 6045) to qualify for a third field minor.

A Ph.D. candidate with a separate examination field in American Politics and Government, Political Behavior or Public Policy may not select the courses (i.e. Presidency, Political Participation, the Bureaucracy) used in that field to qualify for a third field minor in the field of American Institutions.

Within this constraint, students taking a third field minor in Political Institutions can take as many elective topical courses across the Institutions field as they wish, above the two Institutions courses that constitute the minimum required for a third field minor.

 Courses that Satisfy Field Requirements

“Core” National Institutions:

  • POS 6427: Legislative Process
  • POS 6933: Judicial Behavior (Also taught as “Proseminar in the Judicial Branch”)
  • POS 6933: Presidency
  • POS 6933: Legislative-Executive Relations
  • POS 6933: Inter-Institutional Politics (Political Interactions Among Branches)
  • POS 6933: American Legislative Development
  • POS 6933: Institutions and Public Ethics

“Linkages” among Political Institutions:

  • POS 6453: Political Parties and Interest Groups
  • POS 6933: Interest Groups
  • POS 6933: Political Communications
  • POS 6279: The Politics of Direct Democracy
  • POS 6933: Politics of Reform
  • POS 6048: American Political Development
  • POS 6712: Empirical Theories of Politics