Political Methodology

The Department of Political Science at the University of Florida offers a Ph.D. field in political methodology. Political methodology, broadly defined, addresses the tools of inquiry that are appropriate to the study of political science. These tools include quantitative techniques for data analysis, qualitative approaches, and specialized techniques for solving particular problems. The objective is to offer a wide range of courses designed to help students gain expertise in the methodologies that will enable them to answer research questions in political science. The Department is committed to methodological pluralism and a thorough methodological training to prepare students for the (academic and research-related) job market in methodology and their substantive fields.

Political methodology is distinct from the other political science fields in that it is intrinsically linked to supporting research efforts in other fields. Excellent methodological skills combined with strong theoretical foundations make it possible to do state-of-the-art political science research. The Department seeks to provide students the tools critical to excellent scholarship. Students seeking careers at research universities are strongly encouraged to include methodology in their curriculum while at the University of Florida.

Classes are offered in the Department and in partnership with other departments at the University of Florida. All students choosing methodology as a field take a three-course sequence, including Data Analysis (required for all PhD students in the Department), Topics in Political Research Methodology (Linear Models), and Maximum Likelihood. Beyond these there is wide latitude for students to design a set of courses that bear on their substantive work in the discipline. The Department also works closely with the ICPSR Summer Program at the University of Michigan and the Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research (IQMR) at Syracuse University to provide further instruction to our students.

First Field Requirements

(7 courses for a total of 21 credits)

  • POS 6737: Data Analysis (required for all PhD students)
  • POS 6747: Topics in Political Research Methodology (Linear Models)
  • POS 6933: Maximum Likelihood
  • Four additional seminars chosen in consultation with the dissertation chair and methods faculty

Field Examination

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

Committee Selection

A three-person examination committee: the representative from the Political Methodology field on the candidate’s supervisory committee will chair the student’s examination committee, a member from the Political Methodology field or a cognate department with expertise in the area of specialization selected by the candidate, and a member selected by the chair of the Political Methodology field committee. The candidate should consult with the Political Methodology Field Committee chair in the semester before the anticipated examination for guidance and to ensure all requirements have been met.

The examination committee will work with the candidate prior to the examination to confirm areas of specialization, and otherwise counsel the student in preparation for the examination. This includes delineation of appropriate, detailed, specialized reading lists above and beyond the core list. One member of the examination committee may be from a cognate department, chosen for her/his expertise in a selected area of specialization. If this member is selected by the candidate, the choice must be approved by the chair of the Political Methodology Field Committee (acting on advice of the Committee). 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 Structure

  • Section I: general area of data analysis
  • Section II: conceptual, addressing estimation methods and research design
  • Section III: area of specialization chosen in consultation with the dissertation chair

Examination Length

Total page limit is approximately 20 pages.

Second Field Requirements

(5 courses for a total of 15 credits)

  • POS 6737: Data Analysis (required for all PhD students)
  • POS 6747: Topics in Political Research Methodology (Linear Models)
  • POS 6933: Maximum Likelihood
  • Two additional seminars chosen in consultation with the dissertation chair and methods faculty

Field Examination

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

Committee Selection

A three-person examination committee: the representative from the Political Methodology field on the candidate’s supervisory committee will chair the student’s examination committee, a member from the Political Methodology field or a cognate department with expertise in the area of specialization selected by the candidate, and a member selected by the chair of the Political Methodology field committee. The candidate should consult with the Political Methodology Field Committee chair in the semester before the anticipated examination for guidance and to ensure all requirements have been met.

The examination committee will work with the candidate prior to the examination to confirm areas of specialization, and otherwise counsel the student in preparation for the examination. This includes delineation of appropriate, detailed, specialized reading lists above and beyond the core list. One member of the examination committee may be from a cognate department, chosen for her/his expertise in a selected area of specialization. If this member is selected by the candidate, the choice must be approved by the chair of the Political Methodology Field Committee (acting on advice of the Committee). 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 Structure

  • Section I: general area of Maximum Likelihood Estimation
  • Section II: conceptual, addressing estimation methods and research design
  • Section III: area of specialization chosen in consultation with the dissertation chair

Examination Length

Total page limit is approximately 20 pages.

Third Field Requirements

 (4 courses for a total of 12 credits)

  • POS 6737: Data Analysis (required for all PhD students)
  • POS 6747: Topics in Political Research Methodology (Linear Models)
  • Two additional seminars chosen: Maximum Likelihood (POS 6933) is strongly recommended.

Departmental Courses that Satisfy Field Requirements*

* Additional courses are available through other departments at the University of Florida, after consultation with and approval from the Political Methodology Field Committee chair.

  • POS 6737: Data Analysis†
  • POS 6747: Topics in Political Research Methodology (Linear Models)‡
  • POS 6933: Maximum Likelihood§
  • CPO 6096: Comparative Qualitative and Mixed Methods
  • POS 6933: Interpretive Methods
  • POS 6933: Fuzzy Logic in Politics
  • POS 6757: Survey Research
  • POS 6933: Discourse Analysis
  • POS 6933: Formal Theory
  • POS 6933: Comparative Historical Analysis
  • POS 6933: Multilevel Models

† Required for all PhD students

‡ Required for all students declaring political methodology as their first, second, or third field.

§ Required for all students declaring political methodology as their first or second field; strongly recommended for third field.