One of the most important features of our program is the level of commitment that faculty have to working with and mentoring students. We share a common belief that learning occurs best when students are actively involved in the research process and we structure our program to ensure that faculty and students work together on projects.
We give highest priority to faculty-student collaborations when assigning research assistants to faculty. Students may find a faculty member with whom they wish to work jointly on a research project. The faculty member and student can request to have the student assigned as an RA for 1 semester to work on the joint project. In effect, students who are appointed to an RA appointment of this type are paid a stipend to work on their own research. In many cases, this has led to the presentation of co-authored work at professional conferences and publications in some of the leading academic journals in political science.
Our coursework builds in opportunities to work one-on-one with faculty. Students identify a faculty advisor for their first year paper project and work closely with that person to develop and complete the research paper. In the second year, students complete a faculty-supervised practicum which allows students to receive substantial attention and feedback from faculty about their own research project.
Students in our program usually work with several faculty members during their graduate education. Although all students must select a chair for their dissertation committee, we do not expect a student to make that decision right away or expect students to work with only one faculty member during their tenure here. Instead, it is common for students to work on projects with several different faculty members. This allows students to explore many different topics of research and lets them see how different scholars approach the research process. Moreover, this means that many of our students enter the job market with more than one co-authored conference paper or publication.