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Graduate Courses

The Political Science Department adheres to The Graduate School’s (TGS) policies and procedures about coursework with the following additions and exceptions:

Required Courses

All students must take POLI_SCI 403 (Probability and Statistics) and POLI_SCI 405 (Linear Models). These required courses are usually completed in the first year.  Students may elect to take one or both during their second year. Students should consult with their advisor about the best options for completion of this requirement given their overall program of studies. Students who wish to be exempted from these classes on the basis of equivalent training prior to coming to Northwestern must make contact with the methods course instructor and have written permission from their advisor and the DGS. (Students concentrating in Political Theory may elect not to enroll in POLI_SCI 403 & 405.)

Program areas have required courses as well; please consult the corresponding program area pages for further information.


Students are required to register for 3 units each quarter to be considered full-time students.  Please review TGS requirements to maintain full-time status.

Instructions about how to register can be found both with TGS and the Office of the Registrar

Courses outside Political Science and at other Universities

The number of courses taken outside the department of Political Science during the first two years of study that can satisfy the coursework requirement for the doctorate is limited to 3. This limit can be raised if necessary to complete a TGS approved special credential.

Students have the opportunity to take courses at other Universities while in residence at Northwestern.

Transfer Credits

The Department may consider the transfer of credits. Doctoral students are allowed to transfer up to two quarters (six credits) of coursework. Such coursework must be from graduate level courses at approved, accredited institutions. A minimum of nine graded courses must be taken at Northwestern University to fulfill doctoral degree requirements and a B (3.0) average must be maintained.

Students who petition for transfer credits need to submit syllabi and other evidence of course content and requirements to their advisor. The advisor will evaluate the quality of this previous coursework and other information related to the merits of the request to the DGS. In instances where the transfer of credits for methodology courses is requested, the instructors for the corresponding courses at Northwestern University will be called upon to provide their professional judgment concerning the merits of the request. These processes are designed to ensure that the student consults with his or her advisor regarding the wisdom and the implications of the transfer of credits.

Transferring credits can reduce the length of time used for coursework and allow a student to advance more quickly toward the completion of a degree.  The Department requires that students who are awarded transfer credits will advance the pace of their course of study. For example, the award of six credits (two terms of coursework) will bring with it the expectation that the student will take qualifying exams (“prelims”) at least half a year earlier than otherwise. The award of substantial numbers of credits can mean that the student will be expected to complete their Research Paper Requirement in the first year of study.