Political Methodology

“The unity of all science consists alone in its method, not in its material.”
– Karl Pearson (1938)

The Department of Political Science at the University of Florida offers a Ph.D. field in methodology. 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. Students who elect to study methodology are exposed to such topics as linear models analysis, categorical data analysis, surveying and interviewing, focus group research, time series statistics, and Bayesian methods. 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 their substantive political science fields.

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 such as Economics and Statistics. All students choosing methodology as a field take the course Likelihood Theory (offered every Spring semester), but beyond that 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 to provide further instruction to our students. In Summer 2001, ours was the only department in the country to have two graduate student recipients of ICPSR Clogg Scholarships.

First Field Requirements

Summary of 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 from the list below

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 Methodology field on the candidate’s supervisory committee will chair the student’s examination committee, a member from the Methodology field or a cognate department selected by the candidate, and a member selected by the chair of the Methodology field committee. The candidate should consult with the Methodology field committee chair in the semester before the anticipated examination to constitute the examination committee.

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 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 Questions

  • Section I: general area of Quantitative Analysis
  • Section II: area of specialization including: Intermediate Quantitative Analysis (maximum likelihood), Qualitative Methodology, Advanced Quantitative Analysis (Bayesian models, Time-Series, statistical computing, large sample theory, ecological inference), Categorical Data Analysis, Survey Research Methods, Measurement and Research Design, Applied Nonparametric Models, Demographic Processes and Methods, Applied Time Series and Dynamic Models, Logic, Structural Equation Models
  • Section III: area of specialization (see above) with a data analysis exercise

Examination Length

Total page limit is 15 pages.

Second Field Requirements

Summary of 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 from the list below

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 Methodology field on the candidate’s supervisory committee will chair the student’s examination committee, a member from the Methodology field or a cognate department selected by the candidate, and a member selected by the chair of the Methodology field committee. The candidate should consult with the Methodology field committee chair in the semester before the anticipated examination to constitute the examination committee. 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 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 Questions

  • Section I: general area of Quantitative Analysis
  • Section II: area of specialization including: Intermediate Quantitative Analysis (maximum likelihood), Qualitative Methodology, Advanced Quantitative Analysis (Bayesian models, Time-Series, statistical computing, large sample theory, ecological inference), Categorical Data Analysis, Survey Research Methods, Measurement and Research Design, Applied Nonparametric Models, Demographic Processes and Methods, Applied Time Series and Dynamic Models, Logic, Structural Equation Models
  • Section III: area of specialization (see above) with a data analysis exercise

Examination Length

Total page limit is 15 pages.

Third Field Requirements

Summary of 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 from the list below

Courses that Satisfy Field Requirements

  • POS 6737: Data Analysis (required for all PhD students)
  • POS 6747: Topics in Political Research Methodology (Linear Models)
  • POS 6933: Maximum Likelihood
  • POS 6933: Mixed Methods
  • POS 6933: Interpretive Methods
  • POS 6933: Fuzzy Logic in Politics
  • POS 6757: Survey Research
  • POS 6933: Discourse Analysis
  • POS 6933: Formal Theory