The PhD is designed to prepare students for a career in international relations involving close contact with 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 science more generally.
Students can complete the PhD degree in two structured programs – a stand alone four-year PhD program (8 semesters); and a new accelerated doctoral program (7 semesters), designed for advanced master’s students at the Graduate Institute who are transitioned into doctoral research after three semesters of master’s studies.
Students with a bachelor’s degree interested in a PhD are encouraged to apply to the accelerated master’s program, as a way-station transitioning to doctoral research. This fast-tracked master’s/doctoral program allows students to complete a master’s and PhD within five years (10 semesters).
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 accelerated doctoral program condenses the first three semesters into two semesters, so that students develop and present a dissertation prospectus after two semesters, and commence their own research in the second year of the program.
The coursework and dissertation prospectus, combined with specialized doctoral seminars, participation in colloquia and doctoral retreats, and semi-tutorial 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 local and major international meetings.
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.