College of Arts and Sciences

School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs

General Program Requirements

The following descriptions outline the school's requirements, options, and general expectations for normal progress toward your degree. Please be advised that while faculty advisors, committees, and graduate staff members play consultative and/or oversight roles, students are responsible for following the policies and procedures that govern the completion of their degrees. Additional rules and policies applying to graduate students are contained in the annually published Graduate School Policies and Procedures. All graduate students should secure a copy of this from the Graduate School and read it with care.

Program Planning: Committee Formation, Program Statements, & Departmental Checklists

Students are responsible for planning their own graduate programs, with the advice of their committees, and for following departmental and Graduate School requirements.

As soon as possible, and no later than the end of the second semester in residence, students must form an advising committee, composed of three graduate faculty, one of whom will serve as the chair. The committee chair will be the major advisor throughout the degree work at WSU.

Students should meet with their entire committee to plan their program prior to filing the program statement with the graduate school (see below).

Students will be appointed a faculty advisor upon entry to the program—based on their declared interests in their application files—who will serve as the primary advisor until the committee is formally constituted. The faculty advisor provides help and support with committee formation, as well as advice on course selection.

All graduate students must submit a Program Statement to the Graduate School by the beginning of their second semester in residence.

Revisions to the Program Statement should be made if a student's committee or program changes, but final changes should be made no later than the semester before planned graduation.

Students should obtain these forms from our academic coordinator, Bonnie Kemper, who will help students fill them out correctly. All members of the student's committee must sign this program statement before it is submitted to the Graduate School.

Once all committee signatures have been obtained, students should submit their statements to the academic coordinator in the school. The director of graduate studies must also approve the program beforeit is sent to the Graduate School.

Please note that some courses are not always offered on a regular basis. Thus it is vital to check with the academic coordinator, the director of graduate studies, or the faculty who normally offer the course in order to anticipate when it will be offered.

Course requirements for Ph.D. and M.A. students may be altered, within reason, to fit student needs as long as the entire committee agrees to the program changes. These types of changes are unacceptable if all members of the committee have failed to sign off on them. Students need to file a change of program form for any changes after their initial program is approved by the Graduate School (this is a Graduate School, not a departmental, requirement). These forms are available in the front office on the 8th floor of Johnson Tower.

Professionalization Practicum

All Ph.D. students are required to enroll for a one-credit professionalization practicum normally taught in the spring semester, POL S 539. This course will be graded on a pass/fail basis and will meet five times, every other week for two hours at a time to be announced. All new students will learn about major issues in the profession, including graduate program issues, teaching, conference participation, publication strategies, grantsmanship, and professional development in both academic and applied settings.

Transfer Credits

In some cases the Graduate School allows students to transfer in credits from other accredited graduate programs. Professional degrees, such as J.D.'s or M.B.A.'s, are not normally eligible for credit transfer. Transferred credits may not exceed half of the graded course work reported on the program statement (or up to 17 credits).

The school strongly advises students to minimize the number of transfer credits from other universities. Only in a few cases are M.A. students permitted to transfer in credits. The Graduate School must evaluate all transfer credits to determine whether they meet minimum standards. This approval process only occurs after the Program Statement is submitted to the Graduate School and often takes several months. The School of Politics, Philosophy, & Public Affairs must also approve all transfer credits, through both the director of graduate studies and the student's committee.

Students should note that transfer courses may not normally serve as replacements for core research tool courses (POL S 501, 502, 503, or 504). Requests to count such a transfer course from another institution should be directed to the graduate director and the GSC, who will make the final decision.

Independent Readings Criteria

Students may arrange to conduct independent reading with individual faculty members (POL S 600) for 1 to 3 ungraded graduate credit(s), pass/fail. While the final grade for the course will only show up as a pass/fail, students may opt, after consultation with the instructor, to do the course work for a grade. This final grade will be shown individually on departmental transcripts, but not in the overall GPA. Students may use independent readings to fulfill the following three purposes:

  1. Pursuing special topics of interest.
  2. Preparing for Ph.D. preliminary exams.
  3. Substitutes for existing course.

This option does not apply for POL S 501, 502, 503, or 504, except in rare circumstances. Reading courses may only substitute for regularly offered seminars under extenuating circumstances, e.g. scheduling conflicts. Such reading courses must be for 3 credits and be approved by all members of the student's committee and the director of graduate studies.

Students need to complete the independent readings forms (available in the front office) with the instructor, and select the type of evaluation as well as purpose of the course. It should be noted that such courses place an additional, non-remunerated burden on faculty, and so should be considered only as an option of last resort by students.

Contact Us

School of Politics, Philosophy, & Public Affairs
Washington State University
801 Johnson Tower
PO Box 644880
Pullman, WA 99164-4880
Phone: 509-335-2544
Fax: 509-335-7990

Graduate & Student Records Coordinator

Bonnie Kemper

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School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs, PO Box 644880, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4880 • 509-335-2544 • Contact Us