PhD Program

The research-intensive Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in Political Science at UBC Vancouver will help prepare you to secure tenure-track faculty positions and prestigious postdoctoral fellowships, as well as other academic and non-academic careers.

Prospective graduate students should browse our research areas to learn about the groups of faculty members working in 30 different research fields, methodologies, and geographic regions.

Our PhD program consists of two years of graduate coursework followed by comprehensive exams following the completion of course requirements.

Students write a dissertation proposal by the end of their third year of study, and with its approval and defense, move on to their dissertation research and writing, which normally takes two to three years to complete.

We are proud to see many of our PhDs in faculty positions and in successful careers throughout the world. We value collaboration and collegiality, and we strive to create an atmosphere of trust, respect, and professional courtesy to ensure a diverse intellectual community.

We generally welcome up to ten students each year into the PhD program.

Our PhD graduates have been highly successful in pursuing academic and non-academic careers.

On the academic front, UBC PhDs hold tenured or tenure track positions at major universities in North America and internationally – including the University of Toronto, University of Victoria, University of Western Ontario, York University, University of Ottawa, University of Calgary, University of Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, University of Essex, Sophia University, National University of Singapore, University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, Ritsumeikan University, University of Sheffield, Queensland University, Simon Fraser University, MacEwan University, University of Fraser Valley, University of Manitoba, Memorial University, McMaster University, Australia National University, University of St. Andrews, and Cardiff University.

Our PhDs have held postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University, Vanderbilt University, University of Toronto, Queen’s University, Oxford University, Duke University, and others.

Many UBC PhDs have taken their doctoral training to high-level positions with government agencies, NGOs, and private-sector employers.

Our students have pursued careers at Statistics Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada, the US Department of Defense Asia-Pacific Center, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Deutschebank (London), and the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, among others.


PhD Dissertation Proposal

PhD students must be admitted to candidacy within 36 months from entry into the program, which means completion of all coursework requirements and approval of the thesis proposal.

Students should work closely with their dissertation supervisor and committee to develop a dissertation proposal (typically about 25 pages double-spaced), which usually includes:

  • A statement of the question or nature of the problem
  • The existing state of knowledge on the topic, which includes a concise survey of the bodies of relevant literature
  • The expected contribution of the dissertation
  • The specific research methods to be employed in the study
  • A projected chapter outline

Upon approval by the Director of Graduate Studies, the student must then present the proposal to the Political Science 649 seminar, the scheduling of which the student will coordinate with their committee and the Graduate Secretary.

Note: all faculty and graduate students are invited to attend the 649 seminars. Committee members are expected to attend, as are all PhD students in residence.

The PhD candidate is expected to maintain frequent contact with his/her Supervisor and Dissertation Committee in order to receive advice and to report on the progress of the research. Reports may be requested of the candidate by their Committee.


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