Comparative politics at the Graduate Center combines in-depth academic training with extensive connection to the policy world that shapes the issues we study. Exploring the similarities and differences among political systems within and across regions, our seminars range from a core course on Basic Theories and Concepts in Comparative Politics to advanced seminars on issues of contemporary significance – such as on globalization, the state, civil war, and social movements. With faculty specializations in each world region, the program also offers area-focused seminars on Africa, Latin America, East and Southeast Asia, the European Union, Post-Socialist regimes, and the Middle East/North Africa.
Wide-ranging interests and interdisciplinary expertise have earned our faculty its distinguished reputation. Recognizing the importance of dialogue between academic and policy worlds, faculty members are engaged in policy and politics as well as academic scholarship, with involvement in a broad range of international, regional, national, and local organizations. Every step of the program, from the small size of our seminars to dissertation proposal preparation, is designed to bring that expertise into the classroom. Home of the academic journal, Comparative Politics, the program and the subfield emphasize individual writing and analysis, with strong support for dissertation methodology and field work. The subfield graduate faculty adheres to no one theoretical or methodological perspective, adding to this unusually supportive environment for student debate, collaboration, and research.
The program maximizes its advantages of providing both individual attention and one of the country’s largest research universities. Students work not only with faculty in comparative politics, but also in international relations, political theory, American politics, urban studies, American and comparative public policy, anthropology, sociology, economics, women’s studies, literature, and film. The 19 colleges of the CUNY system, with highly ranked graduate programs in areas ranging from criminal justice to journalism, connect our students to a faculty of enormous breadth. Also open to our students are graduate seminars through the Graduate Center’s consortium with Columbia, Fordham, New York University, the New School University, Princeton, Rutgers-New Brunswick, and SUNY-Stony Brook.
Each student’s experience is further enriched by being part of a student community with an exceptional variety of career interests, work experiences, and national backgrounds. The wide scope of comparative politics dissertation topics, in particular, reflects the large international component of the student community. It also reflects their diverse career goals, from academic research and teaching, in the US or in their home country, to employment in public service and international organizations (such as our neighbor, the United Nations, and the numerous non-governmental organizations and research institutes in New York).
The comparative politics field is designed to direct students toward their principal research interests and dissertation topics. As with other political science subfields at the Graduate Center, the program in comparative politics encourages students to identify and pursue the topic of their dissertation early and systematically, through seminar papers and individual advising. As soon as the written qualifying examinations in comparative politics and one minor subfield have been passed, students prepare a dissertation proposal and submit to an oral examination of three to five professors covering all subfields of political science and specialized knowledge related to the dissertation. This encourages both the most efficient path to the dissertation and the Ph.D. and the highest standards of empirical scholarship.