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The mission of the Government Department Ph.D. program is to provide students with the analytical skills and substantive knowledge needed to both generate and evaluate research in political science, preparing them for careers at the highest levels of scholarship and teaching. A Georgetown Ph.D. in Government signifies theoretical, methodological, and substantive expertise in various topics of political significance, as well as the research and communication skills necessary for productive scholarship.

The degree indicates that the recipient has acquired extensive knowledge in at least two fields, both typically drawn from the four major subfields of political science, but which may also include related fields such as history, security studies, or public policy. A Georgetown Ph.D. in Government is granted only to students who have demonstrated the ability to synthesize large quantities of information and rigorously evaluate the merits of competing theoretical and empirical arguments. The degree indicates that its holder has obtained the analytical and methodological skills to design and conduct original research of the highest quality. It further certifies that its holder has the written and oral communication skills necessary to engage with debates at the leading edge of the field. Individuals holding a Georgetown Ph.D. in Government are also equipped with the knowledge and skills to teach political science at the university level in both survey courses and specialized seminars.

Doctoral-level seminars taken during coursework are designed to familiarize students with the scholarly literature in at least two fields of study. Students gain a broad understanding of the development and major topics of research within these fields, as well as expertise in several more specialized areas. Students learn to evaluate and engage with the major scholarly debates in their fields of study, both in classroom discussion and in written work. All students learn the methodological skills needed to carry out original research in their respective fields.

Ph.D. students are required to take comprehensive examinations in one major and one minor field. The purpose of comprehensive examinations is to demonstrate a student's broad familiarity with the literature in his or her fields of study. This prepares students both as professional members of a scholarly community and as future teachers at the university level. Our doctoral students write dissertations that consist of rigorous original research that contribute to our understanding of a topic of empirical importance and theoretical significance to the field of political science. Once a dissertation of high quality is complete, there is a dissertation defense at which the student presents the results of his or her research and is questioned about the implications of the work for the field of political science by the dissertation committee.

In addition to the formal requirements of the doctoral program, students are encouraged and expected to participate in opportunities for professional socialization and development. All four subfields of the department organize speaker series to host scholars from other universities and promote intellectual exchange. Doctoral students are also encouraged to attend our seminars on various aspects of the academic profession, including teaching, publishing, and the job market.

Students acquire teaching skills in a number of settings. Many serve as teaching assistants for the larger undergraduate courses offered by the department, while others may have the opportunity to teach their own undergraduate-level seminars. Students may also take advantage of training seminars offered by the department, as well as the certification offered through the Apprenticeship in Teaching Program run by the Center for New Designs in Teaching and Learning.
Doctoral students engage with the political science community outside of Georgetown by attending specialized seminars and presenting their research at academic conferences.

For students admitted with a Fellowship, we provide tuition and a stipend of $25,000. Students also have teaching opportunities, in addition to regular chances to be a teaching assistant or research assistant.

Our Ph.D. graduates have tenure-track jobs at many excellent institutions, including:

  • Cornell University
  • University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • LBJ School of Public Policy at the University of Texas at Austin
  • George Washington University
  • George Mason University
  • University of California at Riverside
  • Villanova University
  • Carleton University

In addition, our Ph.D.s have been winning prestigious fellowships, including ones from Harvard, Princeton and Brookings.

Part of our placement success is due to our strong record of working closely with students, including producing jointly authored articles.

  • Forty-eight hours of course work
  • Each student will select one major and one minor field
  • A satisfactory appraisal by department faculty at the end of the second semester and a cumulative average of “B+” or better
  • A first-year workshop
  • Five courses in theory and methods, except for those in Political Theory
  • Research competence in a second language must be proven by students in Comparative Politics, International Relations and Political Theory. Native speakers of foreign languages may fulfill the language requirement by showing fluency in English.
  • Successfully pass a Ph.D. written comprehensive examinations -- students may also be required to pass an oral examination in their major field.
  • Presentation of a thesis proposal and the subsequent completion of a doctoral dissertation.
  • Up to 24 hours of work from another accredited university may count toward the Ph.D. degree. Students with a previously earned M.A. degree, which directly prepares them for the department's Ph.D. program, may apply for advanced standing for up to 18 credit hours.

Prospective students applying to our PhD program need to ask themselves two crucial questions: 

1) Does this program suit my theoretical and empirical interests?

2) Which faculty members can help me to advance these interests and enhance my skills as a scholar of political science? 

These questions are crucial because our faculty are eager to welcome promising graduate students whose primary aspiration is to pursue careers in academia, teaching, and research. We are, of course, also interested in real-world empirical issues and their practical implications for policymaking and leadership in a host of professional fields. But the training you will get at Georgetown's Department of Government pivots around exploring key conceptual questions and debates that animate one or more of the four political science sub-fields, i.e., American Government, Comparative Government, International Relations, and Political Theory.

Thus, in your application, it it is essential that you look carefully at the scholars who are teaching in these sub-fields, in order to see how their empirical and conceptual research speak to your own background, experience, and interests. Hopefully, you are considering Georgetown because you are already familiar with some of these faculty members. Still, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with our faculty's research topics and regional expertise and to explore the books and journal articles that our faculty have published. A good visit to our website will give you a wider and more detailed sense of whether this program is a good "match."

Note that this match does not - and indeed should not - be perfect: we want to learn from you as well, and we hope that our engagement with your work will expand our own intellectual horizons. However, you must clearly articulate in your application a compelling case as to why you want to join our remarkable faculty and talented students, so that you can become a participant - and partner - in a political science department that has become a national leader when it comes to preparing students for careers in research, scholarship, and academia.

In addition, please take a look at our placement page to see our department's impressive record in placing our students into leading academic and research institutions. This record speaks to our department's deep intellectual energy, commitment, and ambitions. If this is the place for you, we look forward to reading your application!

  • Application Form
  • Non-refundable Application Fee
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Official Transcripts (all prior institutions)
  • Official Recommendations (3)
  • GRE Scores (required of all applicants)
  • TOEFL/IELTS Score (please see below)
  • Writing Sample
  • CV/Resume

Although it is desirable that applicants have completed 18 undergraduate semester hours in political science, the admissions committee does not apply this credit requirement rigidly. It may accept related courses or recommend that the applicant complete courses beyond the minimum degree requirements. The Department will consider individuals from a wide diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and careers. Its key criterion for admission remains strong scholarly promise.

Statement of Purpose: A statement of purpose should discuss the following: your reasons for wanting to study in the Government Department at Georgetown University; how your research interests fit with those of the various faculty members in the Department of Government; and your long-term academic and/or professional goals. The statement of purpose should be a 500 word (approximately) essay.

Academic Writing Sample: The Department of Government requires that all applicants submit an academic writing sample. There is no minimum or maximum length to the writing sample. The average length of samples received by the Department of Government is 15 - 20 pages. This sample should be scholarly, academic in nature and perhaps of a level that is publishable. It is not mandatory but it is preferable that the writing sample be on a topic you wish to study here at Georgetown. The academic writing sample should be a single-authored work.


  • Assistantships: stipends provided in return for service in teaching, research, or other matters of an academic nature
  • Fellowships: stipend without a work obligation
  • Scholarships: tuition grants
  • Fulbright Scholarship Program (Visiting Scholar Program) 
  • International Education Financial Aid (IEFA)
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