Political Science Now

Is This the Curriculum We Want? Doctoral Requirements and Offerings in Methods and Methodology

Virtual Issue: Diversity, Inclusiveness, and Inequality

The APSA Presidential Task Force Report ‘Political Science in the 21st Century report’, now just over five years old, offered a number of recommendations to the discipline including several related to political science research on diversity and racial, ethnic, and gendered marginalization. After reading APSA journals articles published in the years prior to and following the taskforce report, Dianne Pinderhughes and Maryann Kwakwa, both of the University of Notre Dame, argue that, while there have been important steps toward increasing multicultural diversity in political science research and teaching, the barriers that contributed to its marginalization in the past continue to exist. The following article is included in the virtual review issue.

Is This the Curriculum We Want? Doctoral Requirements and Offerings in Methods and Methodology

by Peregrine Schwartz-SheaUniversity of Utah

Ask political scientists what it is they study and you will get a range of answers reflecting the breadth of research communities affiliated with the discipline. (As of 2002 the APSA has 36 organized sections and 50 related groups.) For a variety of purposes, the fact that we share little more than an institutional label may not matter much; but for the purpose of doctoral education, this very institutional label forces us to grapple with what we have in common. The years devoted to doctoral education represent the key point of socialization to the academy at large, and the profession in particular, and program-wide doctoral requirements enact departments’ judgments about what constitutes a “political scientist” above and beyond the substantive fields of American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.1

These are the major fields offered by the 57 programs in this sample: American Politics 96.5% (55); Comparative Politics 95.0% (54); International Relations 96.5% (55); Political Theory 79.0% (45). A “major field” means that students may write a dissertation in that field. Some programs offer a field, often methodology or political theory, only as a minor field. Other major field offerings include Methodology 44.9% (25); Public Policy 31.6% (18); Public Law 21% (12); Public Administration 17.5% (10); Formal Theory 16.0% (9); and Political Economy 10.5% (6).

PS: Political Science & PoliticsVolume 36Issue 3