Baylor > Political Science > Graduate Program > PhD in Political Science


Graduate students and their
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Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science

Our program maintains the traditional concentrations of the field. Students must select one major and one minor concentration in either

1) political philosophy/political theory

2) American politics/constitutional law; or

3) comparative politics/international relations.

Each of these three traditional areas of concentration, however, will be informed by a set of questions and themes, grounded in the training and research of our faculty, which make this program unique. We focus on the foundations and operation of constitutional government, the character and cultivation of political leadership, and the relation of both to civil society and to the task of educating citizens for the exercise of liberty. Civic education involves learning the mechanics of government, but it also involves the formation of citizens through involvement with civil society and service to the community. Proper civic institutions do not merely buttress individuals from the abuse of political power; they also shape the habits of mind and heart necessary for responsible citizenship and political leadership.

Our program also allows doctoral students to work in an interdisciplinary concentration, such as "Religion and Politics" or "Politics and Literature." This concentration allows students to draw on programs throughout the university, such as Church-State Studies, English, history, philosophy and sociology.

Most importantly, our doctoral program takes as its calling not simply the education of future scholars but also the education of teachers. Teaching apprenticeships-with a one-on-one relationship between an apprentice and a teacher-is another distinguishing feature of our program. Graduate students serve as apprentices for undergraduate courses, and are then given the opportunity to teach them. Doctoral students also have the opportunity to work in Baylor's long-established program in Civic Education and Community Service.

Political Philosophy/Political Theory

We offer courses in the history of political thought, from the Greeks to the present, as well as in contemporary debates in political theory and in the social sciences as a whole. Related to our program themes of the philosophic origins and development of constitutional government and the character of statecraft and citizenship, are questions about the future and evolution of liberalism; the nature and function of civil society; the condition of its complex web of intermediate institutions such as family, church, and civic organizations; the nature and preconditions of justice; the virtues demanded by good citizenship; and the challenges of politics in a global society.

Our graduate seminars in the history of political thought - Classical Political Thought, Medieval Political Thought, and Modern Political Thought - provide students with an exceptional foundation in the history of Western political thought. "Contemporary Political Thought" explores such thinkers as Oakeshott, Voegelin, and Strauss, or a theme such as just war theory. "Contemporary Democratic Theory" explores recent debates concerning a properly "deliberative democracy" and assesses the special challenges for citizenship and public culture posed by a radically multicultural and pluralistic political setting. Our course in "Politics and Literature" may focus on such topics as "Shakespeare as a Political Thinker," "The American Political Novel," and "Greek Drama and Political Theory." Finally, "Advanced Study in Political Phlosophy" allows professors and students to explore a particular thinker or theme in great depth, and prepares students for their own dissertation research.

American Politics/Constitutional Law

In addition to our courses in institutions, policy, administration, and behavior, our doctoral program in American politics emphasizes the study of constitutional government, especially constitutional law. Our "Seminar in Public Law," which can be taken up to three times for credit, covers a broad range of questions concerning the American judicial system, including judicial politics, constitutional and judicial theory, and jurisprudence. "The American Founding" studies the politics and principles that played a role in the American Founding, utilizing the debates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, the First Congress, and early fundamental decisions of the Supreme Court that were seminal in its future interpretation. "American Political Development" examines the interaction between institutional structures created by the Constitution and the practice of American politics from the founding period to the present. At issue in both these courses is the relation between political ideas and practical politics, including the institutional, economic, and social constraints both in which statecraft operates and which are in turn shaped by political ideas and actions. We also offer "Presidential Rhetoric," which surveys theories of the rhetorical presidency and genres of presidential discourse in selected eras of American history, from the early republic through the present.

"Comparative Constitutional Law" enables students to study constitutional and legal issues in a comparative perspective. However important the American contribution to the theory and practice of constitutonal government, constitutionalism is today a global phenomenon. Through this course students explore the problems and prospects of the fastest growing form of government in the world today. Moreover, this course not only helps to complete their education in American politics and constitutional law, but also serves as a bridge to our third subfield: comparative politics/international relations.

Comparative Politics/International Relations

In addition to our basic seminars in "International Relations" and "Comparative Politics," which offer graduate students introductions to these fields, and "Comparative Constitutional Law," mentioned above, we offer a range of graduate seminars. "American Foreign Policy" examines the intellectual background of American diplomacy, the interaction of constitutional, legal, and informal institutions that shape official actions, and the dilemmas confronting the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Students with interests in both international relations and political theory will enjoy "The Development of International Relations Thought," which studies the realist, rationalist, and revolutionary traditions, as articulated by such thinkers as Hobbes, Grotius, and Kant, and the relation of these traditions to contemporary international relations thought. So, too, "The Development of Strategic Thought" examines the ideas of strategic thinkers who lived in a variety of historical periods, including Thucydides, Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, and Clausewitz.

We also offer senior-level courses for graduate credit (as in the other subfields) in courses in "Grand Strategy," "Terrorism," "Intelligence and Covert Action," "Diplomacy," "International Law," "International Organizations," "International Political Economy," and "Power, Morality, and International Relations." In the area of comparative politics, we offer courses in the governments and politics of such countries or areas as Britain, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Mexico, and Russia.

Interdisciplinary concentration

Graduate students may propose their own interdisciplinary concentrations for approval by the graduate director, which supplement their overall plan of study in political science and which are related to strengths of Baylor faculty in other schools or departments. A "Religion and Politics" concentration is particularly appropriate, because of the strengths of other programs at Baylor in this area. A "Religion and Politics" concentration deepens the focus of our doctoral program on constitutional and civil society questions. Through this interdisciplinary concentration students might study such topics as religious freedom and its place in liberal government, the role of the church in linking the individual to the broader political community and in fostering a responsible and engaged citizenry, or the contributions of philosophy and poetry (epic, drama, novel, etc.) to the formation of a people's spiritual and political identity and self-understanding.

Methodology Requirement

"Seminar in Research Design and Research Methods" provides an introduction to the discipline of political science, introduces the logic of research design as well as specific research strategies and techniques, whether quantitative or qualitative, and discusses questions related to the philosophy of science.

In addition, students are required either to demonstrate competence in one foreign language (Classical or Modern), as defined by the Graduate School, or to take an advanced methodology course, such as SOC 5312, Social Science Data Analysis (cross-listed as PSC 5312).

Teaching Apprenticeship Requirements

In their second and third years of the program, students have the opportunity to serve as an apprenticeship with a faculty member each semester. Apprenticeships will be arranged on an individual basis by the student in consultation with the graduate director. The apprenticeship will ordinarily involve full participation in planning and executing an undergraduate course. Apprentices will attend the classes of their faculty mentor, and help with student evaluation.

While apprentices, students may take a section of the 5000-level course, "Teaching Political Science," a directed readings course with a faculty member for whose course they serve as apprentice. The readings will involve the subject matter of the undergraduate course, and the requirements might involve a graduate level paper on those materials, or an annotated bibliography of materials that might be used in the undergraduate course. Two sections of 5396 are required of all graduate students, but no more than three are permitted to count toward the PhD requirements. "Teaching Political Science" courses count toward the major, minor, and third field requirements for the PhD.

During the third or fourth year of their program, students will have responsibility for at least one course, in most cases a course of the same kind in which they served their apprenticeship. For example, an apprentice for "Government and Politics of Latin America" or for "Government and Politics of the Middle East" might then teach a section of "Comparative Politics," depending on student preference and departmental need. "American Constitutional Development" has proven particularly useful for apprenticeships, which have prepared many of our doctoral students to teach sections of their own of this course. Student evaluations administered by the University will be given and become part of a student's placement file, along with the faculty member's evaluation.

In addition to the department's teaching apprenticeships, Baylor graduate students have the opportunity to participate in Seminars for Excellence in Teaching.