One of the unusual things about pursuing a PhD at FSU is the common
vision of our faculty. We believe that the best training comes from
providing students with a core education in the scientific pursuit of
knowledge and actively mentoring students to help them develop their
own research agendas. Our goal is to provide students with the foundations
needed to achieve life-long success in their careers as political scientists.
Scientific Approach to Studying Politics
Our faculty is committed to the use of the scientific method to pursue
knowledge of politics. This approach allows students to convert their
own ideas and questions about politics into academic research programs
that will be taken seriously by other academics and, of course, prospective
employers. To develop robust theories and test them with empirical evidence,
students must be conversant with core literature in their area, be able
to devise sophisticated research designs and employ advanced statistical
techniques. Our core curriculum
ensures that students have the cutting edge training they need to pursue
their own research agendas by their second year in the program.
Developing a Research Agenda through Hands-on Training
Because we believe in the importance of mentoring graduate students
through the research process, we build into the program several research
projects that provide students with hands-on training.
Mentoring through Research Assistantships
In addition to coursework funded PhD students receive mentoring through
our Research Assistant (RA) appointments. When faculty request RA support,
they must describe how the appointment will aid in mentoring the student
assigned to them and their expectations for the professional growth
the student can be expected to make. Those projects that are more beneficial
to a student's professional development are then given preference in
the assignment process.
Our program also encourages faculty-student collaborations by providing
students with an opportunity to work in a Research Assistant
position. Students find a faculty member with whom they wish to work
jointly on a research project. The faculty member and student then write
a proposal to have the student assigned as an RA for one semester to
work on the joint project. Research assistantships have led to the presentation of co-authored
work at professional conferences and publications in some of the leading
academic journals in political science, as well as independent publications.
We view our Ph.D. students as future colleagues to be cultivated and
mentored by working with them to produce original research.
We find that both students and faculty members alike are more productive
when they work together to complete projects of mutual interest and
We offer many opportunities outside the classroom for students to develop
skills in the areas they need to launch a successful career in academia.
We provide a series of professional development workshops on topics
such as presenting research at conferences, submitting papers for publication,
and preparing for the academic job market. In addition, all students
attend and participate fully with faculty in department research colloquia.
Finally, graduate students serve alongside faculty on many department
Instruction on Teaching
Students from our program enter the job market with classroom experience
from teaching courses in their areas of interest. Each graduate student
takes a summer course on undergraduate teaching within our department
before stepping into the classroom. Students apply the lessons learned
during the summer course in developing and teaching their own independent
courses to FSU undergraduates, typically starting in the third year.
This enhances their attractiveness to prospective employers and eases
the transition as they become new faculty members.