Program Requirements

Research Methodology & Research Tools/Foreign Language

The Department views research methodology as an integral part of graduate studies. Students must develop necessary expertise in the methods appropriate for their master’s and doctoral level research. Therefore, M.A. and Ph.D. students must satisfy a Methodology requirement and a Research Tools/Foreign Language requirement.

The Methodology requirement is typically be satisfied by taking PLAD 7090 (Research Methods in Political Science). Political theorists may substitute PLPT 5010 (The Nature of Political Inquiry). Students should take one of these courses early in their career in the Department, and preferably during their first year.

The Research Tools/Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in one foreign language OR completing PLAD 7100 (Political Research with Quantitative Methods). Please note that Ph.D. students who major in Political Theory must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language.

Proficiency in a foreign language is demonstrated by any one of the following:

  • passing a test administered by the appropriate language department at UVA;
  • presenting viva voce evidence to a person acknowledged by the department as capable of evaluating competence in the language;
  • achieving a grade of “B” in a 2020 level language course (a grade of B- is not acceptable).

Foreign students whose first language is not English may use their native language in order to fulfill this requirement.

Fields of Study and Comprehensive Examinations

The Department’s curriculum is based on five fields of study:

  • American Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Political Theory
  • Political Methodology (minor only)

Students are required to complete the requirements for one major and one minor field from among the five fields of the Department. Most fields require a comprehensive examination as part of the major and/or minor. Comprehensive examinations are offered at least twice yearly, before the start of fall semester and at the conclusion of spring semester.

Where can I find more information about graduate program requirements?

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at

Additional information on program requirements and guidelines for currently-enrolled graduate students are available from the Politics Department Graduate Collab page.

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