Program Areas

The department has many research strengths that cross the traditional sub-fields of political science training. In keeping with traditional training expectations, students specialize in two program areas and receive methods training.  Students will take comprehensive exams in their primary program area at the end of the second or beginning of their third year. By completing five courses in a second field, achieving grades of B+ or higher, students fulfill the second field exam requirement.  

The major subfield concentrations for the program are:

  1. Comparative Politics: advanced capitalist democracies, development, democratization, political institutions, race and ethnicity, regional and cross-regional studies.
  2. American Politics: political communication and mass behavior, political institutions and organizations, political economy and public policy, law and politics.
  3. Political Theory: history of political thought, contemporary political thought, normative theory, new democratic theory, feminist theory, continental thought, ancient political thought, culture and politics.
  4. International Relations: international relations theory, conflict and security politics, international organization and international law, international political economy, religion and global politics.
  5. Methods: probability and statistics, linear models, Quantitative Causal Inference, game theory, social choice, experimental methods, interpretive methods.  Northwestern also offers a social science oriented Masters in Statistics.

See the program area descriptions for details on training, comprehensive exams for the first field, and courses that qualify for training in the second field.