Graduate Curriculum & Teaching Requirements

Required Courses

All students must successfully complete - with a grad of B or better - the following seven core courses:

  • Math Camp: August before 1st semester
  • Game Theory (505): 1st semester
  • Mathematical Modeling in Political Science (5052): 1st semester
  • Quantitative Methods I (581): 2nd semester
  • Quantitative Methods II (582): 3rd semester
  • Causal Inference (5024): 4th semester
  • Research Workshop I (590): 5th semester

In addition to required courses, students will be taking courses in different fields. Coursework is mainly concentrated in the first two years. Students should plan to take 4 courses per semester in their first year and 3 courses per semester in the their second year.

Course Schedule & Program Length

First-year students take four courses per semester. Second and third-year students typically take three courses. After the third year, most students sign up for independent research with their dissertation advisor(s) or with a professor who specializes in an area of particular interest to them.

Most students go out on the job market in the fall of their fifth year and complete the dissertation by the summer of that year (a month or two before you start your job). The exceptions here are students in Comparative Politics. It typically takes them about a year longer to complete their degrees (6 years instead of 5) because they may need to spend time learning a language and/or conducting field work. In almost all instances, we are able to support these students through the sixth year.

These are average figures. Of course, there are always exceptions - the students who are able to go out on the market at the start of their fourth year and those who are still in residence in their seventh. How you will fare is largely up to you.

Courses in Other Departments

Students may take courses in other departments with approval from the Director of Graduate Studies. Depending on your specific areas of concentration, you may take courses offered in the Economics and Anthropology Departments and in the Schools of Business and Law-to name just a few. Indeed, we believe that one of the great strengths of Washington University is the freedom that you have to pursue a wide-range of theoretical, substantive, and technical interests beyond the bounds of particular departments.


There are three opportunities for graduate students to gain teaching experience. First, you can teach undergraduate courses during the summer. Second, you can teach undergraduate courses in our night program. Finally, virtually all of our students will serve as teaching assistant (at least once) for a big introductory course, and as part of this experience, you may lead a weekly discussion session. In sum, all of our graduate students go out on the job market with at least one course prepared and ready to teach.

Have questions?

Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies to learn more.

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