For Prospective Students

The UC Davis Department of Political Science graduate program is a collaborative environment in which faculty members work closely with students to prepare them for successful careers as scholars and teachers in the subject of political science, as well as non-academic occupations that value the tools and skills of political scientists. In order to foster this collaborative approach, enrollment in the program is restricted to allow close working relationships with faculty. The success of our program in preparing students for academic careers is evident in our excellent placement record of students in research universities and liberal arts colleges. Our program also offers numerous opportunities for students to pursue independent and collaborative research, as well as the funding to do so. We offer multi-year financial packages to all incoming students, both domestic and international, through a combination of fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships and readerships so that members of our program can concentrate fully on their studies. 

Transcend Traditional Fields

While we offer specialization in all of the traditional political science subfields—American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, and political methodology—our department encourages training and research that cuts across the traditional fields. Our graduate program is structured to introduce students to a range of approaches to research in political science and the methodological tools needed to do cutting-edge scholarship.

The program affords students exceptional opportunities for hands-on experience in research and teaching and gives them access to financial support and advising to help them achieve their academic goals.

Political science PhD students with interests that cross disciplines can also get additional training and mentorship by completing a Designated Emphasis (DE) in a related field. The department has established DEs in Computational Data Science, Human Rights, and African/African-American Studies. To complete a DE, students generally take several additional courses and have a faculty mentor from the DE on their qualifying exam and dissertation committees. The full list of DEs offered to doctoral students at UC Davis can be found here

Methodological Training

Political science is a diverse and ever-changing field. Much of the contemporary research in the discipline uses advanced statistical techniques and mathematical modeling tools to study political phenomena. To prepare our students to be both careful readers and active creators of this research, the program is structured to give all students high-level training in quantitative methodologies. The program’s coursework in methodology is designed to be accessible for any entering graduate student, regardless of whether they took any undergraduate-level math or statistics courses. However, since these methodologies require some background knowledge of mathematics, the Department also offers an online "math camp" combined with a week-long in-person “quant camp” to incoming first-year students during the summer before entering the program in order to ease the transition into these courses. These camps cover several topics that will help students succeed in our program, such as linear algebra and the basics of programming in R.

Students whose subfield focus is political theory are required to take introductory quantitative methodology courses, in order to allow them to be literate in a key language of the discipline. However, their training largely focuses on the methodological approaches appropriate to political theory, such as the practice of close reading of texts in historical context, including the history of ideas and the creation of vocabularies and analytic frames to illuminate political questions, problems, and practices.


The Department of Political Science offers a full range of graduate seminars across the subfields of the discipline.


The Department of Political Science doctoral program maintains a high percentage of alumni job placements, including in tenure-track positions at prestigious academic institutions. Here are stories about some recent graduates, along with a comprehensive list of placements: