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Graduate

Welcome to the Homepage of the Graduate Program in Political Science. The graduate program of the Department of Political Science, a division of the University of Houston’s Graduate School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, provides advanced training in the discipline of political science to students whose career goals include college teaching and advanced research. The Department offers programs for both Master's and Doctoral degrees.

The department is organized into five major subfields: American politics, comparative politics, political theory, international relations, and public policy. Ph.D. Students take comprehensive exams in a major and a minor subfield of their choice. The department has a long history of being quantitatively oriented. All students in the department must fulfill a requirement in research methods.

Ph.D. candidates must choose one (1) major and one (1) minor field. Offered are:

American Politics

Comparative Politics

Political Theory

Public Policy

International Relations

American Politics

Houston American Politics has a long tradition of scholarship in political behavior, American institutions, and public policy. We hope to attract students whose interests bridge American politics and public law, political theory, or comparative politics.  Our placement record in American politics is strong, with recent graduates receiving tenure track positions at the University of Alabama, Misericordia University, and the University of Montevallo. An important strength of our program continues to be its culture of publication.  Our faculty is young, but productive and active in the field.  We have published monographs in the fields’ leading university presses, and have published articles in American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, as well as articles in more specialized journals. Moreover, our faculty regularly participate as section head for the major conferences.  In the past few years, we have expanded the socialization and professionalization opportunities for our students.  The American Politics Workshop at the University of Houston meets twice a month to workshop a graduate student or faculty paper, and each semester to provide tips for publishing and job applications. In addition, we regularly host prominent American politics scholars for seminars and lectures.  Recent visitors include Shanto Iyengar, Terry Sullivan, Ken Meier, and Daniel Carpenter.  On these visits, our graduate students can attend seminar-style research presentations, and our more advanced students are often invited to dinner with visiting speakers.

Comparative Politics

Houston Comparative Politics also has a long tradition of scholarship, and we are growing. We continue to hire in international relations, with a focus on international and comparative political economy, which will provide great opportunities for students interested in those subfields, and more generally, interested in issues that cut across the fields of comparative politics and international relations. We wish to attract students interested in Latin American and European politics and in acquiring strong methodological skills, some of the strengths of our department.  We also hope to attract students interested in the connections between comparative politics and international relations or public policy. We have placed recent comparative politics students at Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) and University of Glasgow.

Our program is small but vibrant.  In the past few years, we have developed The Center for Comparative and International Studies, which now sponsors a number of activities throughout the year and brings nationally recognized speakers to campus to discuss current affairs with students and faculty. In addition, a bi-weekly comparative/international relations workshop gives students the opportunity to share their work and receive feedback from students and faculty. Our department recently organized a conference on analyzing Latin American Politics, which was attended by a number of distinguished scholars. In addition, we regularly host prominent comparativists for seminars and lectures.  Recent visitors include Scott Gehlbach, Sebastian Saiegh, Michelle Taylor-Robinson, Leslie Schwindt-Bayer and Julia Gray.  

Political Theory

Political Theory at the University of Houston has a long-standing focus in constitutionalism and liberal theory, and we currently have 7 theorists working in these general areas.  Our core graduate faculty includes Jeremy Bailey (American political thought), Naomi Choi (contemporary political thought), Jeffrey Church (late moderns), and Alin Fumurescu (early moderns). In addition, Dustin Gish (ancients) contributes to the program as an affiliated faculty in the Honors College, Greg Weiher teaches Religion and Politics, and Daniel Engster of the Hobby School of Public Affairs works on the ethics of public policy.  Our faculty are active scholars, publishing in the discipline's top journals and university presses.

Our program also encourages connections between Political Theory and other parts of the discipline (particularly public law, American politics, public policy, and research methods).  This approach has yielded successful placement for our students, with our most recent graduates getting jobs at Utah State University, Angelo State University, and King University.

We regularly invite visiting speakers to campus through the support of the Tocqueville Forum on American Ideas and Institutions. Recent visitors have included Thomas Pogge, John Tomasi, Keith Whittington, Ruth Grant, Jim Ceaser, Sharon Krause, Michael Zuckert, Thomas Pangle, Arthur Melzer, Elizabeth Ellis, and Gary Jacobsohn.  On most visits, our graduate students get a chance to attend the research presentation in a small setting, and our more advanced students are often invited to dinner with visiting speakers.  In addition, the Political Theory Workshop at the University of Houston meets each month to workshop a graduate student or faculty paper, and each semester to provide tips for publishing and job applications.

Public Policy

Public policy at the University of Houston has productive scholars in a wide range of issue areas related to inequality, welfare, immigration, and health. We offer rigorous training in public policy research and policy analysis. Our department more generally has strengths across all subfields and offers solid training in political methodology. An important strength of our program continues to be its culture of publication, cross-subfields collaboration, and its focus on student success. The public policy teaching faculty is drawn from across subfields to resemble both cutting edge analytical tools and substantive expertise in various policy areas. Our faculty is young, but productive and active in the field. Our faculty actively engages graduate students in research collaboration. We also provide professional trainings to help students be well prepared for future job opportunities. The American Politics and Public Policy Brown Bag Series at the University of Houston meets every 2-3 weeks to workshop a graduate student or faculty working paper. In addition, we regularly host prominent scholars across different subfields for seminars and lectures.

 Here is a short list of public policy teaching faculty:

-Jason Casellas (Race, Ethnicity and Public Policy)

-Jeronimo Cortina (Immigration Politics and Policy and Geographic Information Systems)

-Boris Shor (Health Care Politics and Policy)

-Greg Weiher (Education Policy)

-Ling Zhu (Inequality, Welfare and Health)

 International Relations

The Department of Political Science at the University of Houston has recently reinstituted its International Relations subfield, which specializes in formal and quantitative approaches to the study of political economy of risk. Political risk can significantly influence a number of social, economic and political outcomes. In the international realm, political risk emanates from a variety of sources: war, coups, terrorism, human rights violations, humanitarian crises, political change, instability, and government interference in economic activities. A growing literature within political science is presently examining phenomena at the intersection of political economy and risk because it contains important theoretical questions, requires methodological rigor, and has important policy implications.

Our current program is small but growing. Although we have only been a subfield at UH for a short period of time, we already have a vibrant cohort of IR students. Our current IR students hold B.A.s from a variety of institutions, both across the U.S. and around the world. As we continue to grow, we are expanding opportunities for our students through our Department, the Center for International and Comparative Studies, and the recently created Hobby School for Public Affairs. These opportunities include research workshops, a speaker series, the EITM Institute, and a collaborative political economy lunch seminar with faculty and graduate students in economics, political science, and business from the University of Houston, Rice University and other institutions in the region. Through these programs, our graduate students have a chance to discuss research in a small-group setting and to network with successful researchers.

Our faculty’s research explores the effect of economic activities on political risk, as well as political risk's effect on economic outcomes. Pablo Pinto specializes in international and comparative political economy, with a focus on the globalization of production; Patrick Shea works on war finance, sovereign credit, and the domestic politics of international relations; and our newest member, Tyson Chatagnier, focuses on the links between trade and conflict and the microfoundations of war. Our faculty also includes Zachary Zwald, an Instructional Assistant Professor, who focuses on decision making and nuclear proliferation. Collectively, we have published monographs in the fields’ leading university presses, including Cambridge University Press and Michigan University Press, and have published articles in journals such as International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Theoretical Politics, and Political Analysis, among others. Our faculty actively participate in national and international conferences, and we regularly organize conferences of our own here at the University of Houston. In addition, we encourage scholarly collaboration between our graduate students and faculty, which has already led to a number of promising projects in a short period of time.

Research Methods

Though Methods is not offered as a minor at UH, we offer a rigorous training in quantitative methods for PhD and MA students.The goal of a 'science of politics' is to identify associations between abstract concepts that describe the political world. Making scientific progress requires specifying expected causal relationships among the concepts, measuring them, and determining whether the evidence substantiates the expected relationships.

One of the core principles of the graduate programs in Political Science at the University of Houston is that quantitative methods aid the process of conceptualizing, developing theories, and specifying and testing hypotheses.

Faculty in Political Science use quantitative approaches to study a wide variety of topics, from wars and terrorism, to corruption and human rights, to legislatures, parties, and voters in the United States and abroad. Many faculty use advanced methods in their research and include elements of quantitative and formal analysis in their substantive graduate courses. Because we encourage scholarly collaboration between graduate students and faculty, which has led to many successful publications, students often find that coursework in methods is a useful stepping stone to scholarship.

Most graduate choose to take at least two semesters of coursework in statistics, learning hypothesis testing and regression analysis. Students who wish to become experts in quantitative analysis have the opportunity to take courses or summer modules in the following topics: maximum likelihood analysis, time series analysis, measurement, experimental design, survey design and analysis, causal modeling, and game theory.

Students also have opportunities to develop their skills outside of a formal classroom setting. The EITM Summer Program is hosted by the Hobby Center for Public Policy at the University of Houston. The Texas Methods Conference was hosted in March of 2017 at the University of Houston, in a collaborative effort between the Department of Political Science and the Hobby Center for Public Policy. The conference is expected to return to Houston in 2019. All such programs allow graduate students to discuss research in a small-group setting and to expand their academic network.

Recent graduates of the Ph.D. program have obtained teaching positions at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and abroad. Recent M.A. graduates have applied their training to advance careers in journalism, business, applied research law, political activism and civil service. Others used the M.A. program to determine whether or not to enter a Ph.D. program in political science.

Interested individuals should email the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Jeffrey Church (jchurch@uh.edu).