The department is organized into four subfields in which graduate students may major or minor; in addition we have a thriving political methodology group.
American Politics is a large and diverse subfield that covers a lot of ground: our group is genuinely diverse and pluralistic in the ways we ask and answer questions about American politics. We have scholars who study the historical development of American politics and the American state. Some of us focus on institutions, whether Congress, the Presidency, the courts, or the process of public policy formation and implementation. And a number of us look at how Americans think, feel and act as citizens, by examining voting, other forms of participation, and public opinion.
The comparative politics faculty believes that advances in political analysis are best achieved through a simultaneous commitment to asking big questions, rigorous empirical research and extensive theoretical knowledge. We advocate using all of the tools available to us—quantitative and qualitative; area and cross-regional studies—to expand our understanding of politics. Faculty research specialties include comparative economic and political development, public policy and administration, and democratization.
UVa’s International Relations scholars tackle the complexities of an interconnected world with creativity and analytical rigor. Our substantive expertise covers the full range of international affairs including military conflict and nuclear proliferation; international trade and finance; international institutions and order; and the culture, language, and politics of every major region in the world.
A central feature of the political theory field at UVa is the diversity of approaches, both methodological and substantive, that characterize its scholars. No one perspective dominates, however, and an atmosphere of robust pluralism prevails within the theory program in particular and the department more generally
Although we do not offer a major or minor in methods, the Department includes a strong and diverse political methodology group that draws members from across the substantive subfields. Our research and teaching interests span a wide range of approaches to empirical research, including historical, interpretivist, quantitative, formal, and experimental; and include attention to concerns with issues of research design, the logic of inference, and the nature of political inquiry.