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Information for Current Students

The Department of Political Science has numerous resources for current graduate students.

How do I….?

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...get additional funding from the department during the COVID-19 crisis?

Click here to view the latest options for graduate funding during COVID-19.

...apply for a Conference Travel Grant?

There are two options to apply for a Conference Travel Grant.  To help you choose the right options for your work, click the graphic!

The Graduate School offers a grant of up to $800 per grant.  Students must apply for this at least two months before the conference, and may only receive two of these grants during their entire career. 

In addition to the TGS grant, the Department offers travel grants of up to $500 pre grant.  These are often used in conjunction with a TGS grant, but may also be applied for as a stand-alone grant.  There is no restriction on the number of Department grants that a student may apply for; however, preference will be given to those students who have not received a grant in the past. 

The application for the Department Conference Travel Grant can be accessed here.

Funding for both grants is distributed on a reimbursement basis after the conference is completed.  Students are asked to save original copies of all receipts relevant to the grant, and to complete an Expense Report with Stephen Monteiro within five (5) days of returning from the conference.

...complete my Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training?

Click here for more information about the Department's RCR requirement.

...register for classes?

First, select your courses with the help of your First Year Advisor.  You should try to create a two-year plan to make sure that you take all of the required and recommended courses during your Residency.  Refer to the Guide to Graduate Studies for guidelines and restrictions associated with registering for classes. 

Review Course Descriptions on Caesar, and check the Schedule of Classes.  Refer to the Office of the Registrar for registration dates and times. 

Make sure to review TGS registration policies as well, and check with the Graduate Program Coordinator with any problems or questions.

...learn about housing options available for graduate students?

To learn more about housing options through northwestern, you can visit the housing link provided by The Graduate School. Currently, there is no roommate finding service for graduate students, although our Department and the Graduate Student Association are sometimes able to send emails to their listservs with roommate requests.

Information on university housing can be found here:

Alternatively, the Evanston campus is readily accessible by public transport from Chicago.

Current students created a helpful handout about how to search for housing as a grad student.

...find more information about my health insurance.

Health Insurance is provided annually for PhD students as part of their financial package.  Check out this helpful handout, Keys to Navigating Your Healthcare, written by alumna Mara Suttman-Lea '17 for help with navigating the different insurance options.  

Also of interest may be this essay on mental health and academia, also written by alumna Mara Suttman-Lea '17.

...complete my First-Year Review?

All first year students are required to complete a brief First-Year Review with their advisor.  You may download the form, First Year Review Sheet, which must be turned in to the Graduate Program Coordinator by July 1. 

Should you wish to work with a different faculty member other than your assigned first year advisor, you are welcome to do so.  Make sure to let your assigned advisor know, and verify that the alternate faculty member is willing to serve as your advisor moving forward.  Please let the Graduate Program Assistant know about the change as well.

...request a particular TA assignment?

Solicitations for TA preferences are sent out at about the halfway point of each quarter by the faculty member managing TA assignments.  Efforts are made to match students up with their preferred courses, but not all requests can be accommodated.  Should a student need to work with a particular faculty member for larger research purposes, that faculty member can also submit an email request to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

There will be times where the Department has more undergraduate sections than available TAs; during those times, our students may be asked to take on heavier TA loads than average.  There may also be occasions where discussion sections are early in the morning or in the early evening.  We are very much aware that this sometimes presents challenges for graduate students, and we will always do our best to re-distribute the work in future quarters.

...complete my Research Paper Requirement?

Your Research Paper is due on the first day of the Spring Quarter of your second year.  Specifically, March 29, 2022 or March 30, 2023.  Should you require an extension, you must request it from the DGS well in advance of that deadline.

Step 1: Choose faculty readers.  The subfield chair and a second reader chosen by the subfield chair (normally the instructor of the course in which the research paper was written) will read the paper and determine whether it fulfills the paper requirement.  Should the instructor of the course not be available, the student should work with the subfield chair to identify a second reader.

Step 2: Complete this form.  You may optionally attach a copy of your paper to the form.

Step 3: Send your paper directly to your faculty readers.

Readers have 6 weeks to return results of Pass, Fail, or Revise and Resubmit.  Please consult the Graduate Program Coordinator with additional questions.


...apply for the MA?

Once you have completed your 18 units of coursework, you may apply for the MA.  To be awarded the MA, you must have no incomplete grades on your transcript and have completed your Research Paper Requirement. 

The application for the MA can be found on GSTS under TGS Forms.

...prepare for Qualifying Exams?

The first step in preparing for your qualifying exams is to ensure that you have completed ALL incomplete grades.  You may not sit for the exam if you have an incomplete grade on your transcript.  Should you not be able to resolve your incomplete grades before the Fall quarter of your third year, you will be required to wait a full year to take your qualifying exam and advance to candidacy. 

Exams are offered two times each academic year; in June and in September.  Consult the Guide to Graduate Study for more information about timing, exam content, and grading.

Sample exams are available from the Graduate Program Coordinator.

...apply for Department Summer Funding?

The Department offers small grants for students to use in the summer.  Applications will be available in March from the Graduate Program Coordinator. These grants are intended to provide modest funding for students who might not qualify for other University grants.  Applicants may propose a wide variety of professional development activities to be funded by these grants, including methods training, language work, fieldwork, and summer reading groups.

...get paid for RA work?

Serving as an RA is a great professional opportunity, and students are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities.  All RA work needs to be approved by the Department, WCAS, and TGS before the work begins.  Have your faculty supervisor send an email to the Graduate Program Coordinator which contains the number of hours to be worked, the pay rate, where the pay should come from (discretionary or grant account), and the nature of the work to be done.  Make sure to give several weeks of notice to allow for approvals to be obtained and the payroll paperwork to be completed. 

Permission to Work form must be completed and approved before work can begin. More instructions can be found here.

...defend my Prospectus?

By the end of the fall quarter of your fourth year, you must have passed a prospectus defense.  Each subfield has specific requirements for the prospectus; consult with your advisor and the field chair for further information. 

Make sure to register your prospectus on Caesar under TGS Forms, PhD Prospectus.  All students are required to have a full 3-person dissertation committee at this stage.

...apply for a leave of absence?

There are several options for taking a leave of absence: medical, family, and general.  Review TGS policy regarding leaves of absence for full information.  Students do not need to consult with the Department prior to applying for a leave of absence.

...learn about childcare and opportunities for my family?

Childcare information can be found through Human Resources, as well as through TGS’ extensive new program for Student Parents.

...request that my Student Activity Fee be waived while I’m away from campus?

When you are doing field research and will not be in the Evanston area, you may request that your Student Activity fee be waived for that quarter.  To do so, complete this form, indicating the quarter for while you request a waiver or a refund, and the reason for the request.  TGS will then consult with the Graduate Program Coordinator for confirmation that you were not in the area during that quarter.

...request 6th Year funding?

6th year funding is not guaranteed, but occasionally the Department is in need of additional TA support in a given quarter.  Toward the end of your 5th year, the Graduate Program Coordinator will send out an inquiry; with those results, we will review our TA needs and should there be opportunity to hire a 6th year student, the Department will write a formal request to WCAS.  WCAS then reviews the requests and decides whether there are funds available to hire a 6th year student.  These decisions are generally made during the summer quarter each year.

...apply for graduation?

To apply for graduation, you must have defended your dissertation and completed all program requirements.  The application can be located on GSTS under TGS Forms, and is called Application for Degree.

Students may graduate in all quarters.  Check TGS deadlines for submission of materials.

...defend my dissertation?

The dissertation defense should be held with at least one committee member present; other committee members are permitted to join the defense via Skype or telephone.  The defense does not need to take place on campus, however most students find it easier to do so. 

A date and time should be identified for the committee well in advance.  The defense typically lasts about two hours.  Should a room on campus be requested, the Graduate Program Assistant will need at least a month or more to secure a space. 

Prior to the defense, the student must complete and print the Final Exam Form, found on Caesar under TGS forms.  All committee members must sign the form before the defense is considered complete. 

Review this doctoral completion checklist for further instructions, and see the Graduate Program Coordinator to make sure that you’ve completed all requirements.

...go on the job market?

There are many resources available to help you launch your job search.   The Department holds professional development events throughout the year to help students prepare for both academic and non-academic career searches.  University Career Services is great resource for graduate students to get one-on-one guidance. TGS also offers resources for career exploration and job searching.

Contact the Program Coordinator and the Placement Director to discuss your plans for the job market.

... let the department know about any new accomplishments?

When you share your research, teaching, or engagement updates with us we share them with the Political Science community at large through news updates, and social media posts! If you'd like to share your accomplishments with us you can find the form link here.

...submit feedback about department policies, facilities, or professional climate?

We welcome feedback and questions about the facilities, policies, procedures, and professional climate of the Department of Political Science. Your submission can be submitted anonymously; should you choose to leave your name, staff will do our best to respond to you within 72 hours. Please complete this form to submit your response.

Please be aware that all University personnel are mandated reporters. Should you share something that requires us to report it to the University under the Policy on Institutional Equity, we will do so promptly. You may make a report directly to EthicsPoint at any time here.