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The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program in International Relations has a comparative advantage in training scholars to engage in cutting-edge, problem-driven, interdisciplinary research in international affairs and political science.  Our doctoral research not only contributes to academic literature, but also to resolving pressing policy problems. Students engage in significant fieldwork grounded in rigorous methods and supported by a comprehensive theoretical framework, helping Fletcher doctoral candidates produce research that contributes to both theory and practice. 

With approximately seventy students engaged in coursework or research, the PhD Program is an integral and vibrant component of The Fletcher School. After completing their degrees, our graduates go on to high-level careers in academia, research, non-profit organizations, government, and the private sector.

PhD students complete two fields of study, requiring four courses each. They are also required to take a course in comparative politics (P201), a course in IR theory (P200 or H204), and three methodology courses (P210:Research Design and Methodology, E213: Econometrics, and a third course of their choosing).

Students who have received their master’s degree at another institution must pass a total of at least twelve courses. Additional courses may be required if the student’s master’s degree was in a field other than international relations, or did not require statistics study. Nine of the twelve must be Fletcher courses, while three can be pursued through cross-registration at another institution. Those who possess a MALD generally pursue an additional four courses, for a total of twenty courses for the two degrees, unless the student develops a plan of study best achieved through additional coursework.

  • Fulfill the PhD breadth requirement – at least two courses in two of the three Fletcher Divisions, and at least one course from the remaining Division. (MALD recipients have already completed the breadth requirement.)
  • Demonstrate proficiency in a second language.
  • Submit a master’s thesis for evaluation by a Fletcher faculty member. For MALD degree holders, this is the MALD thesis. For other students, this could be a master’s thesis written prior to enrollment at Fletcher.
  • Pass a written comprehensive examination in each of the student’s selected fields of study, plus a one-hour oral examination that will focus on issues raised in the written examinations, and will integrate the fields of study. The comprehensive examinations test proficiency in the literature of the field.
  • Successfully propose, research, and write a dissertation. The completed dissertation should bear evidence of independent research and should constitute a substantial contribution to the subject.
  • Pass a public oral defense of the dissertation. This defense will be given after the dissertation has been accepted by the director and readers, and will cover the specific subject and general field of the dissertation.

PhD Candidacy

PhD students whose master’s degree was earned at another institution are reviewed for PhD Candidacy after they have completed at least eight Fletcher courses, presented their master’s thesis, and completed Fletcher’s foreign language proficiency exam. To be granted PhD Candidacy, students must have Fletcher grades averaging at least 3.6. (MALD recipients are granted PhD Candidacy when they are admitted to the PhD program.)


USA requirements for international students

Each university in the Unites States of America sets its own admission standards so there isn't the same criteria for all the students and the university can decide which applicants meet those standards. The fee for each application is between $35 to $100. 

After the selections of the universities you want to attend, the best of all would be to contact each university for an application form and more admission information for the international students. Moreover, for a graduate or postgraduate program it's necessary to verify the admission requirements. Some programs require that you send your application directly to their department. 

Admissions decisions are based on students's academic record and different test scores, such as TOEFL, the SAT or ACT (for undergraduate programs) and GRE or GMAT (for graduate programs). Admission decision is based on your academic results and motivation.


Program requirements

  • Application for Admission
  • Application Fee of $80 (Fee waiver eligibility)
  • Official Academic Transcripts
  • Two Letters of Recommendation (a third is optional)
  • Essay 1
  • Essay 2
  • Essay 3 (Ph.D. applicants only)
  • Resume
  • Official Test Score Reports
  • Evaluative Interview (optional)
  • Scholarship Application (if applicable)
  • Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal (Ph.D. candidates only, 1500 words)
  • Master’s Thesis or Writing Sample (Ph.D. candidates only)
  • List of Ph.D. programs to which you are applying (Ph.D. candidates only)

Scholarships

Annually, our PhD students have received competitive awards and fellowships, including:

  • The Peter Ackerman Award
  • Jennings Randolph Fellowship, United States Institute of Peace 
  • Pre-Doctoral/Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Boren Award, NSEP Boren Program
  • Doctoral Fellowship, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
  • Pre-Doctoral Research Fellowship, Brookings
  • Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, Center on International Cooperation, New York University
  • Eisenhower-Roberts Doctoral Fellowship 
  • Fulbright Fellowship, The Fulbright Program
  • Morris Abrams Award in International Relations
  • Vasey Fellowship, Pacific Forum CSIS
  • PON Graduate Research Fellowship, Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School
  • Smith Richardson Strategy and Policy Fellowship
  • Smith Richardson Pre-Doctoral Fellowship
  • RAND Summer Associate
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