PhD in International Relations/ Political Science

Programme Description


The PhD programme is designed to prepare students for a career in international relations involving research, whether as a producer or consumer. Students admitted to the program must have a solid master's level grounding in international relations and, if possible, in political ccience more generally.

Students can complete the PhD degree in two structured programs – a stand-alone four-year PhD program (8 semesters); or a fast-track doctoral program (7 semesters), designed for advanced master’s students at the Graduate Institute who are transitioned to doctoral research after three semesters of master’s studies. The fast-track master’s/doctoral program allows students to complete a master’s and PhD within five years (10 semesters).

Students with a bachelor’s degree interested in a PhD are encouraged to apply to the fast-track master’s program. The first year of the stand-alone PhD program is divided between advanced course work in qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as in substantive subfields. The third semester is dedicated to developing a dissertation prospectus that will be the basis of the student’s research for the next few years.

The “Fast Track” application is open to our current Master students. Successful candidates can complete both the Master and PhD degrees in just five years of study, one year less than the regular Master + PhD study programme. Students currently completing one of the Institute’s disciplinary Master programmes are eligible to apply to the PhD "Fast Track" in the same discipline or specialisation. They can do so in the third semester of their Master degree, before 15 November. "Fast Track" candidates must obtain all the required credits before the end of their third semester. If admitted, they begin the PhD programme in the following semester (fourth, or spring, semester of their Master degree), which then becomes the first semester of their doctoral programme.

The coursework and dissertation prospectus, combined with specialized doctoral seminars, participation in colloquia and doctoral retreats where students get individualised feedback from all the professors, and close work with an adviser, gives students the range of skills needed to design and implement their own research.

Students work closely with advisers and other faculty; they have the opportunity to work on multiple projects and present their research at national and major international meetings, as well as contribute to a wide array of research centers based at the Graduate Institute.

Each year, approximately 12 students are admitted to the PhD program. Most of our students benefit from the Graduate Institute’s financial support, whether through research assistantships, teaching assistantships or fellowships. Students who might find financial support useful are encouraged to apply.