College of Arts and Sciences

School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs

Professor Martha Cottam and student

Graduate Studies


The School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs offers an M.A. in political science in global justice and security studies (which is also a graduate certificate program), a graduate certificate in bioethics, a master of public affairs (M.P.A.), and a Ph.D. in political science.

The Pullman campus awards the M.A. and Ph.D. in political science. The Vancouver campus grants the M.P.A., independently from Pullman. Over the years, WSU has granted more than 225 M.A.'s and more than 100 Ph.D.'s in political science, and in an average year, there are approximately 50 political science students on the Pullman campus and 25 on the Vancouver campus.

An Evolving Program

In recent years, the graduate program has gone through a great number of exciting changes and growth. Responding to the growing number of applicants and the goal of a smaller, higher-quality program, we have become increasingly selective. An energetic faculty maintains these performance standards in the classroom. With the competitive student body and academically active faculty, we are enhancing an already strong national departmental reputation.

The major aim of all of our graduate degree programs is to provide students with a broad and thorough training in the theories and methods of political science so that they can be successful professionals in a variety of applied, educational, and scholarly settings.

Our graduate program is explicitly designed to respond to the realities of a highly competitive job market. From 1989 to 2010, we have placed the great majority of our Ph.D. graduates who have been on the market. Faculty members have been selected through a highly competitive process and come from some of the top doctoral programs in nationally and internationally. In addition to being highly active in their fields, our faculty works closely with graduate students in teaching, advising, research, and publication. Indeed, most of our faculty have coauthored publications with graduate students.

The Graduate Committee

The graduate program is implemented through a committee advising system, in parallel with a comprehensive examination system by departmental committee.

Upon entering the program students are assigned a faculty advisor. This faculty member will normally come from the field or area of expressed student interest (e.g., American politics, global politics, public policy/administration, philosophy, etc.). Students should rely upon their faculty advisor or on the graduate director for advice and direction during their first year in the program.

As soon as possible, and before the beginning of their second year, students must select three graduate faculty to serve on their formal advising committee (this may or may not include their original faculty advisor). This committee will help students design their program, prepare for their written and oral exams, and otherwise aid in their professional development.

Areas of Specialization

Our Ph.D. is designed to give students substantive flexibility in mapping out their program of study. Currently, students choose from one major foundational training area—Institutions and Processes, Behavior and Psychology, or Theory and Philosophy—within which they will focus for their preliminary exams, as well as a specialization field (American Politics, Global Politics, or Public Policy/Public Administration).

The foundational training areas allow students flexibility in structuring the courses they take in order to allow them to take advantage of the areas of particular strength within our department, such as political psychology, global justice and security studies, philosophy, and gender, while building critical skills in research and methodology.

We strive to maintain an atmosphere of collegiality, diversity of ideas, respect, and tolerance, and to prepare our students for the rigorous demands of a career in academia or another chosen profession.

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

Useful Links



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