Note to International Applicants: Due to a variety of issues related to the Covid pandemic, there are limited spaces available for international students for the 2021 – 2022 academic year. Applicants with a GPA below 11.5 should take this into consideration before submitting an application.

The Doctor of Philosophy is designed for students who have already completed an MA degree in Political Science. The admissions process is competitive and enrollment is limited.

how to apply

Program overview

The PhD program is based on rigorous, theoretically-grounded study in two fields of Political Science; students choose from Political Theory, International Relations, Comparative Politics, Canadian Politics, Public Policy and Gender and Diversity. All of these fields are well-represented by internationally-recognized faculty members who are available for doctoral research supervision.

After completing the required coursework and two comprehensive examinations, doctoral students embark on the process of writing their dissertation. Guidance and support are offered to students at all stages of their doctoral careers.

The PhD program emphasizes the development of theoretical competence and rigorous analytical skills in the study of politics. All graduate students in Political Science are welcomed as active members of the research community that thrives within the department. Doctoral students in the Department of Political Science are also eligible to apply for the Collaborative PhD in Political Economy.

PhD Program Guidelines


Field Groups

Canadian Politics

The field of Canadian Politics at Carleton University encompasses both the study of traditional political institutions including Parliament, the public service, political parties, elections, federalism and the courts, and important themes and questions in Canadian politics, including indigenous peoples, national unity, political economy, gender, race and ethnicity. Students explore not just how our political system works, but ask broader and deeper questions about what it means to be Canadian in a globalized and networked society.

Members: Vandna Bhatia, William CrossChristina Gabriel, Marc HanveltRaffaele Iacovino, Radha JhappanJonathan MalloyStephen WhiteConrad Winn

Comparative Politics

Research and teaching in the field of comparative politics focuses on issues such as the origins and evolution of states; political economy and theories of development; democratic and authoritarian tendencies in diverse regimes; types of government (parliamentary and presidential, unitary and federal, etc.); core political institutions (constitutions, electoral systems, etc.); cross-national differences in public policy; patterns of political participation; elections, parties, interest groups and social movements; identity politics, political culture, and social capital; contentious politics, revolutions, and civil wars. Comparative theories and methods are used to study political developments within and across Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America.

Members: Chris BrownAndrea ChandlerPiotr DutkiewiczMartin GeigerMelissa Haussman, Achim Hurrelmann, Laura Macdonald, W. R. NewellJeremy PaltielJeff Sahadeo, Elinor Sloan, Gopika SolankiMira Sucharov, William Walters, Conrad Winn

Gender & Diversity

Members: Andrea Chandler, William Cross, Christina Gabriel, Melissa Haussman, Sophie Marcotte-ChénardFiona RobinsonCristina RojasGopika Solanki

The Gender and Diversity subfield considers the role of gender in politics; the intersectionality of gender and other identities (such as race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation); political representation and gendered political behaviour;  and the dynamic relationship between identity and perceived difference in political life.  As a field that has been profoundly influenced by feminist scholarship, Gender and Diversity includes an ongoing conversation about which research methods are appropriate for the study of actors located at various locations of political hierarchies – and indeed raising critical questions about those hierarchies.

International Relations

The Department has one of the largest concentrations of political scientists conducting research on International Relations (IR) in the country.  Our research expertise covers traditional subjects of inter-state politics such as foreign policy, security, international institutions, international political economy and global governance, as well as newer thematic concerns such as the international politics of migration, ethics, humanitarian intervention and food.  Our research spans all of the principal theoretical approaches found in the field of IR and draws on several methodological traditions within the social sciences more generally.  Our research concerns also mesh with those of other fields, especially comparative politics, political theory and public policy and administration.

Members: Peter Andree, Chris Brown, Piotr Dutkiewicz, Martin GeigerRandall GermainHans-Martin Jaeger, Laura Macdonald, James Milner, Jeremy Paltiel, Farhang RajaeeFiona Robinson, Cristina RojasJeff Sahadeo, Brian Schmidt, Elinor SloanMira SucharovWilliam Walters

Political Theory

Research and teaching in the field of Political Theory is grounded in the history of political philosophy and its major paradigms including classical, modern and historicist.  Themes include reason and revelation; justice, legitimacy and the common good; character, civic virtue and liberal education; global technology and radical modernity; the encounter between Western and non-Western theory and practice.  Schools of thought examined include the Enlightenment, German Idealism, critical theory, phenomenology, post-modernism, feminist political theory.  The thematic consideration of political theory is pre-eminently guided by the study of the primary texts.

Members: Scott Bennett, Randall GermainMarc HanveltAchim Hurrelmann, Raffaele Iacovino, Hans-Martin Jaeger, Radha Jhappan, Sophie Marcotte-ChénardJames Meadowcroft, W. R. NewellFarhang RajaeeBrian Schmidt

Public Affairs and Policy Analysis

The Public Affairs and Policy Analysis field provides students with a grounding in traditional theories of public administration and public policy as well as well as in the emerging realm of public affairs. The field stresses a variety of analytic methods for conducting academic and applied policy analysis. The substantive material emphasized in research and teaching include such areas as the environment, health, science and technology and the patterns of public opinion and participation underlying activities in these area.

Members: Peter Andree, Scott Bennett, Vandna BhatiaJonathan Malloy,  James Meadowcroft, James MilnerStephen White