In the semester immediately following the successful completion of comprehensive examinations (or when next offered), a student shall enroll and successfully complete POLS 901 in which the student will write and defend a dissertation prospectus. Among other things, the prospectus shall identify the research question and hypotheses, the topic's relevance, how it is addressed in the literature, and the methodology to be employed. Evaluation shall be based on the clarity and thoroughness of the written and oral defense, and the potential of the dissertation to make a contribution to the field.
Masters Comprehensive Examinations
Students shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the examining committees thorough knowledge of the two areas of specialization in which they are examined and the ability to develop cogent and coherent arguments. Core seminars are the starting point in preparation for comprehensive examinations. Comprehensive examinations shall not, however, be limited to the content of core seminars. Students should inquire with faculty in the respective fields and who write the examinations regarding the content to be covered in comprehensive examinations.
Masters comprehensive examinations shall each be open-book, take-home examinations 9 hours in length that are administered on two days (one for each subfield) during a two week examination period.
Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations
Students shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the examining committees thorough knowledge of the two areas of specialization in which they are examined, the ability to use knowledge to generate and evaluate research ideas in these areas, and their ability to think critically and analytically. Comprehensive examinations in each area of specialization shall consist of two parts: 1 ) A general component which covers the entire area of specialization, and 2) A specialized component which covers a subfield within the area or content specified by the examining committee in areas where there are no subfields. Criteria of evaluation shall include appropriateness, comprehensiveness, and originality. Core seminars are the starting point in preparation for comprehensive examinations. Comprehensive examinations shall not, however, be limited to the content of core seminars. Students should inquire with faculty in the respective fields and who write examinations regarding the content to be covered in the comprehensive examinations.
Ph.D. comprehensive examinations shall each be open-book, take-home examinations 9 hours in length that are administered on two days (one for each subfield) during a two week examination period.
When a student is entitled to take comprehensive examinations, the student's advisor or supervisory committee chairperson shall so indicate to the chairperson of the Graduate Committee. The Graduate Chair shall appoint a committee of three examiners for each area of specialization in which the student is to be examined. The examining committee shall determine the content of the examination, and each member of the committee shall evaluate the examination as stipulated in Section VI.A. Each member's evaluation shall be communicated in writing to the Graduate Chair. In cases of disagreement, the evaluation of the majority shall prevail. The group of examiners shall be made known to the student well in advance of his/her exams to assist the student's preparation. Where there are only two faculty members with field-specific expertise, the Graduate Chair may appoint an examining committee consisting of two examiners. Should the two examiners be divided in their evaluation, the following shall occur: (1) the examiners shall meet to review their decision with the purpose of resolving their differences and arriving at either a Pass or No Pass decision; (2) if following review the examiners remain divided, their shall be an oral examination consistent with procedures outlined in the graduate manual; (3) if the examiners are divided on the oral examination, a grade of No Pass shall be assigned by the Graduate Chair.
Students will receive one of four grades on their comprehensive exams.
• pass at the MA level (fail to quality to advance in the program)
• qualify for advancement to go into or continue in the PhD program
• qualify for advancement with distinction.
Written comments from each member of the examining committee covering strengths and weaknesses of the examination shall be provided each student.
A student may be required to take an oral examination if recommended by the examining committee and approved by the Graduate Committee. The examining committee shall submit its recommendation to the Graduate Committee in writing along with the reason for the recommendation. Generally, an oral exam will be approved only when it can help clarify a student's performance on the written examination. If approved by the Graduate Committee, the examining committee shall set the time and place for and conduct the oral examination. The grade for the oral examination shall be Pass or No Pass and communicated in writing to the Graduate Chair.
Retaking a Failed Comprehensive Exam
Retaking a Failed or “Pass at the MA level” Comprehensive Exam. Permission to re-take a comprehensive examination must be granted by the Graduate Committee. Retakes shall occur no later than one year after the failed examination.
Time Schedule for Comprehensive Examinations
- Comprehensive examinations are administered during approximately the 3rd and 4th weeks of Fall semester, and the 11th and 12th weeks of Spring semester.
- Comprehensive examinations may not be taken prior to the semester in which program requirements are completed.Ph.D. students must complete all course requirements, excluding the research tool and POLS 901, before comprehensive examinations.
- All courses, excluding thesis credit, dissertation credit, and research tool, in which a student has received an incomplete must be completed and graded by July 1 in order to take comprehensives examinations in the Fall, and by February 1 in order to take comprehensive examinations in the Spring.
- Students who formally indicate their intention to take comprehensive examinations and withdraw after July 1 for the Fall examinations and after February 1 for the Spring examinations, must petition the Graduate Committee for permission to withdraw. Withdrawing after the above dates without permission of the Graduate Committee will be treated as a failing grade on comprehensive examinations.
In cases where a student does not finish the M.A. thesis within ten months of taking comprehensive examinations, a letter attesting to the student's currency and competence in the field from the thesis advisor shall be submitted to Graduate Studies with the application to graduate. In cases where a student does not finish the Ph.D. dissertation within three years of taking comprehensive examinations, a letter attesting to the student's currency and competence in the field from the chair of the supervisory committee shall be submitted to Graduate Studies with the application to graduate.
Research Tool Requirement for the Ph.D.
Each student will complete the research tool requirement consisting of nine hours of course work which shall count as part of the 90 credit hour requirement for the Ph.D. Political Science 800 and 801 may not be used toward this requirement.
The supervisory committee will establish, with the approval of the Graduate Committee, tools appropriate to the research interests of the student. Such tools include but are not limited to computer science, epistemology, foreign language, game theory, logic, mathematics, research design, research methods, and statistics.
Six of the nine hours must be completed in either quantitative research methods or epistemology as defined by the supervisory committee and approved by the Graduate Committee.
Six hours may be waived by demonstrating proficiency in an area. Proficiency may be established by previous course work, examination, or both. Specific proficiency standards will be recommended by the supervisory committee and approved by the Graduate Committee.
Students submitting foreign language as a research tool shall establish proficiency by passing an examination. Where language proficiency can not be demonstrated by such an examination, the supervisory committee will recommend and the Graduate Committee approve other means for establishing proficiency.
A collateral field can substitute for six hours of the research tool requirement. The field must bear a strong relationship to the student's research interest, but not overlap major, minor or supporting courses. Proficiency is established by completing at least 15 semester hours of course work in a single department while enrolled in the graduate program.
Courses submitted for the tool requirement must be completed with a grade of C or better.
The research tool requirement must be completed by the end of the semester in which Ph.D. comprehensive examinations are taken.
If research tool proficiency has been established more than three years prior to the date of comprehensive examinations, proficiency must be re-established to the satisfaction of the supervisory committee and Graduate Committee before comprehensive examinations are taken.
Forms and Deadlines
The College of Graduate Studies requires and specifies deadlines for the filing of a number of forms as students move through the program. The forms and deadlines are available by clicking below.
Selection of Advisor for the Master's Program
Each student in the Masters program officially selects his or her advisor at the time the Memorandum of Courses form is filed with the Graduate Chair and Graduate Studies (viz., before half the program is completed). The student should consult with the faculty in the field of the thesis or concentration before making this decision. Students pursuing the Option II Masters will have as their advisor the chairperson of the Graduate Committee.
Annual Review of All Graduate Students
During the spring semester a review of all graduate students is conducted by the faculty. This review involves recommendations concerning the continuation of students in various degree programs and assistantships. The evaluation is compiled and recorded by the chairperson of the Graduate Committee. Recommendations concerning assistantships are forwarded to the chairperson of the department.
Applicants to degree programs without some political science background or related training may be required to take up to nine (9) credit hours of 400/800 level course work in the department before a final determination will be made on acceptance to full standing in a specific degree program. Such work will not count in the degree program.
Funding and Evaluation of Graduate Students
The Department makes funding decisions on a yearly basis and can only commit to one year of funding at a time. Future funding depends on satisfactory performance in course work, satisfactory performance as a GA/TA, timely progress toward degree, and availability of funds. Future funding is also affected by the number of years a student has already received funding from the Department: funded students who enter the MA program can expect funding for no more than two years; funded students who enter the Ph.D. program with an MA degree from outside of the Department can expect funding for no more than four years; funded students who both enter the MA program and subsequently pursue a Ph.D. in the Department can expect funding for no more than a total of five years. A fellowship awarded by an agent other than the Department shall not count toward the above limits, except that no student shall receive funding from the Department if he or she has already had six years of funding from any source.
In funding decisions, the Graduate Committee shall evaluate new students based on their undergraduate and, if appropriate, graduate GPA, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, departmental needs, and other materials and criteria deemed relevant. For students currently in the program, the Graduate Committee shall invite all faculty to report on the performance and progress of students. The evaluation shall be done by distributing to each faculty member a form containing the name of every graduate student. The basis of the evaluation shall include performance as a GA/TA, performance in course work, number of outstanding incompletes, progress on thesis or dissertation, and other materials and criteria deemed relevant. Students who are denied funding shall receive an evaluation in writing outlining how they can improve their prospects for funding in the future. Students failing in their program of studies or responsibilities shall also be informed in writing regarding what they need to do to improve.
Funded students serving as instructors or recitation leaders shall be required to take the course "Professional Development in Political Science."
Students who have not enrolled for two successive semesters shall be informed in writing that they have been placed in the inactive file. Such students shall not be counted as part of the graduate program. Students who wish to return to active status may request a change of status from the Graduate Committee. The request shall be in writing and include a timetable for the student's anticipated completion of the program.
The teaching load for TAs shall be one course each semester.
Each year the Department, if it deems it warranted, will award an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award and a Best Graduate Paper Award. A cash award will go to the award winners. The award for both is $200. The winner of the Outstanding TA award shall be the Department's nominee for the College (Alumni Association) TA award.
Unclassified graduate students (those not enrolled in a degree program) may take no more than six (6) graduate credit hours in political science. Unclassified students may apply for admission to a degree program, and if admitted, count the six hours toward their degree. Graduate faculty shall inform the chairperson of the Graduate Committee of unclassified students in their classes at the start of each term.
Graduate students presenting conference papers and desiring Department support shall submit a form available from the chairperson of the Graduate Committee. Support shall be awarded on a competitive basis. Students who wish to attend the ICPSR summer methods program may also apply to the Department for funds. Students who receive Department funding shall present their paper to the Department or in the case of ICPSR make a presentation to the Department on material covered in the program. It will be the responsibility of the graduate representatives to make arrangements for these presentations.
The chairperson of the Graduate Committee shall conduct an orientation for new graduate students in the fall of each academic year. At the orientation, each student shall be presented with materials deemed appropriate. The Graduate Chair shall review the curriculum, core seminars, and research seminars; program requirements for the MA and Ph.D. degrees; the purpose and procedures of comprehensive examinations and how to prepare for them; sources of funding for graduate students available through the Department and University and the criteria used in allocating Department and University funds; procedures for obtaining an advisor and when this decision should be made; the role of advisor, and for Ph.D. candidates, supervisory committee; the role of Graduate Chair and Graduate Committee; services and resources available at UNL and through the Department such as computer facilities and funding for travel to professional meetings. The Graduate Chair may invite other faculty to share their thoughts on teaching, research, the profession, and other points of interest to new students.
All students who teach their own courses or lead recitation sections in the department are required to take POLS 802 (Professional Development), which includes a component on teaching political science.
|Retaking a Failed Comprehensive Exam|
|Time Schedule for Comprehensive Examinations|
|Research Tool Requirement for the Ph.D.|
|Forms and Deadlines|
|Selection of Advisor for the Master's Program|
|Annual Review of All Graduate Students|
|Funding and Evaluation of Graduate Students|