h o m e i n t r o c u r r i c u l u m f a c u l t y s t u d e n t s r e s o u r c e s n e w s a p p l y
P h. D.  P r o g r a m s  i n  S o c i a l  P o l i c y  H o m e






Government track

Government Department, CGIS North

A disciplinary foundation in Political Science

Joint Ph.D. candidates in the Government track complete all the normal requirements of the Harvard Ph.D. Program in Government. Hence, prospective applicants should fully acquaint themselves with the Government Department’s diversity of approaches, areas of study, faculty, and course offerings. Rather than replicate the departmental literature, which can be found in the GSAS program booklet and on the Government Department web site, this discussion highlights those program features that Government & Social Policy applicants will especially wish to consider.

The Government curriculum aims to provide students with both a broad mastery of the discipline of political science and a defined specialization, which is reflected in the department’s dedication to excellence in each of the four main subfields of political science: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political philosophy.

Minda de Gunzburg Center for European StudiesDoctoral students undertake study in four selected areas: a major field, a focus field within the major field (which will be social policy for students in the joint degree program), a minor field, and political philosophy. The curriculum includes training in quantitative and other research methods. Students actively engage in research from the outset of their graduate training through the completion of at least three substantial research papers at the pre-dissertation stage.

While there are many possible permutations, a student in the Government & Social Policy Ph.D. program might elect, for example, American politics as the major field, social policy of the U.S. as the focus field, comparative politics as the minor, and political philosophy. Other students might choose to pursue a more comparative or international approach, or to combine normative and empirical work through a concentration in political philosophy with a minor in American or comparative politics.

American Politics

American politics analyzes U.S. political institutions and processes, including Congress, the presidency, the judicial system, electoral behavior and public opinion, and interest groups. Recent graduate seminars in American politics include:

  • American Political Development
  • Educational Politics and Policy
  • Social Capital and Public Affairs
  • Power in American Society
  • Research in African American Politics
  • American Political Ideologies
  • Political Behavior
Professors Paul Peterson, Robert Putnam, and Theda Skocpol.

Photo © Martha Stewart (Peterson, Putnam) and © Kris Snibbe, Harvard News Office (Skocpol)

Comparative politics

Comparative politics encompasses cross-national comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior, as well as traditional area studies concerns. A Government & Social Policy student with a specialization in comparative politics, for example, might explore the comparative politics of the welfare state, comparative political economy, or the politics of social change in one or more countries of Western Europe. Recent graduate seminars in comparative politics include:

  • Social and Political Change in the Political Economies of Europe
  • Gender, Markets, and Politics
  • Politics and Economics
  • Political Institutions and Economic Policy
  • Conceptualizing and Measuring Identity

International Relations

International Relations explores interactions across international boundaries, including issues in international political economy, international security, or the conduct of foreign policy. Government & Social Policy students with an interest in international relations might explore how international flows of trade, labor, or finance affect social policy outcomes, or how international institutions shape the domestic politics of social policy. Recent graduate seminars in international relations include:

  • International Political Economy
  • The Politics of International Monetary and Financial Relations
  • International Organization

Political Philosophy

Political philosophy grapples with the central conceptual and normative issues of politics, fundamental questions of political life and society. Recent graduate seminars in political philosophy include:

  • Economics and Politics: The Foundations of Economics in Political Theory
  • Social Theory and Comparative Politics
  • American Political Thought

Institutional resources

Doctoral students in the Government & Social Policy further benefit from a rich network of research centers and programs at Harvard University. These research institutions typically sponsor conferences and seminars and often fund doctoral fellowships for dissertation or summer research. Some of the programs most relevant for Government & Social Policy students include:

:: Center for American Political Studies (CAPS)

:: Harvard Migration and Immigrant Incorporation Workshop

:: Institute for Quantitative Social Science

:: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies

:: Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality & Social Policy

:: Program on Education Policy and Governance

:: Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America

:: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

:: W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research


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Photo credits:

CGIS North and Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies
© 2005 Pamela Metz










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