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MIT Course Catalog 2014-2015

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Department of Political Science

Political science is concerned with the systematic study of government and the political process. Within the discipline, scholars analyze the development, distribution, and uses of political power; determinants and consequences of various forms of political behavior and sources of political conflict; ways in which conflicts are both intensified and resolved; and the relationship between the individual and the state. Political science is a discipline of special interest to scientists and engineers who must understand the political system within which they live in order to evaluate their influence upon that system. It is of interest as well to those students who are considering careers in public service or university teaching and research.

The Department of Political Science has a research-oriented faculty that welcomes both undergraduate and graduate students in ongoing research. The department covers the fields of American politics and public policy, comparative politics, international relations and foreign policy, and political philosophy and social theory, with particular emphasis on ethnicity and identity, international security, representation, and the politics of globalization. The Department of Political Science offers degree programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor of Science in Political Science/Course 17
[see degree chart]

The political science curriculum for undergraduates combines professional social science training with opportunities for a broad liberal arts education. Students may choose subjects from a wide range of both undergraduate and graduate offerings, and are encouraged to engage in independent research projects. In addition, the department sponsors an internship program in which students work in governmental agencies, legislative offices, community associations, international organizations, and advocacy groups at all levels.

The undergraduate program prepares students for study in political science, law, public policy, and related fields, and for careers in government, business, law, research, teaching, or journalism. This program is also designed to give students, whatever their career objectives, an understanding of political institutions and processes. Some students want to focus on political systems themselves; others choose to concentrate on the political aspects of public policy, focusing on such issues as the environment, health, or arms control. Both of these perspectives are found in the program.

Subjects are offered by the department in the following fields: political theory, political economy, American politics, public policy, international relations and security studies, comparative politics, and models and methods. Students may work out individualized programs with the assistance of a faculty advisor.

In the junior year students are introduced to the major theoretical and methodological themes of political science in two subjects:

17.869 Political Science Scope and Methods (typically fall term, junior year)
    and
17.871 Political Science Laboratory (typically spring term, junior year)

 

The department believes that every political science major should have the experience of conducting and writing at least one substantial research project, a requirement that is fulfilled by the senior thesis. Each undergraduate chooses a thesis advisor and a second thesis reader in his or her area of interest. The student then registers for:

17.ThT Thesis Research Design Seminar (fall term, senior year)
    and
17.ThU Thesis (spring term, senior year)

 

In addition to the thesis, there are numerous other opportunities for students to pursue research interests. Students are eligible to receive academic credit or limited funding for expenses or wages through the Institute-wide Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Students should consult the department's UROP coordinator to discuss specific projects.

Minor in Political Science

The objective of the Minor in Political Science is to deepen and expand student knowledge of the discipline of political science. A minor in political science consists of six subjects divided into two tiers, selected from any of the discipline's subfields as listed in the online MIT Subject Listing & Schedule, http://student.mit.edu/catalog/index.cgi. Tier I consists of introductory classes and Tier II of upper-level classes.

The requirements of the minor are as follows:

Tier I   At least one but no more than two introductory classes (introductory classes are designated with two-digit numbers). These introductory classes provide broad theoretical and/or empirical overviews of their subject matter. Examples include:
17.01J   Justice
17.20   Introduction to the American Political Process
17.40   American Foreign Policy: Past, Present, and Future
17.50   Introduction to Comparative Politics

Tier II   At least four but no more than five upper-level classes (upper-level classes are designated with three-digit numbers). These specialized classes provide students with advanced and in-depth examination of their subject matter. Examples include:
17.195   Globalization
17.405   Seminar on Politics and Conflict in the Middle East
17.477J   Technology and Policy of Weapons Systems
17.811   Game Theory and Political Theory

 

For a listing of available subjects in these areas, consult Tobie Weiner in the Political Science Undergraduate Office, Room E53-484 or the SHASS Dean's Office, Room 4-240.

Minor in Applied International Studies

The interdisciplinary HASS Minor in Applied International Studies prepares students for an increasingly global business and research environment by integrating international learning into their course of study. A detailed description of this minor may be found under Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Programs and Minors in Part 3.

Minor in Public Policy

The Department of Political Science jointly offers a Minor in Public Policy with the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (Course 11). A detailed description and list of requirements for this minor may be found under Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Programs and Minors in Part 3.

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Graduate Study

The Department of Political Science offers programs leading to the Master of Science in Political Science and the Doctor of Philosophy.

Entrance Requirements for Graduate Study

All applicants must take the GRE general test. Non-native English speakers must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Applicants from all disciplines are welcome—an undergraduate degree in political science is not necessary. Applicants are encouraged, however, to complete some coursework in political science or related subjects such as history, economics, philosophy, psychology, or sociology before applying to one of our graduate programs.

Master of Science in Political Science

The Master of Science in Political Science is a one-year program intended for students who wish to develop skills in applied research in preparation for a career in public policy or with a business or research organization. The master's program emphasizes intensive preparation in a single field of study. Applicants to the SM program should specify their field of specialization.

The minimum number of subjects required for the SM degree is six graduate subjects, at least four of which must be completed in the Political Science Department at MIT. The remaining two may be taken elsewhere at MIT or through cross-registration at Harvard University. A 3.5 GPA must be maintained. A master's thesis is required. See the section on Graduate Education in Part 1 for the general requirements for the SM.

Accelerated Master of Science in Political Science

The department offers a five-year program leading to the Bachelor of Science and Master of Science, awarded simultaneously. This program is open to MIT undergraduate Political Science majors only. It allows the student to plan for a single combined SB-SM thesis written during the last three terms at the Institute. Undergraduate Institute requirements may be completed during the fifth year of the program.

Doctor of Philosophy

Doctoral students must complete the following requirements:

  • A one-term seminar for first-year students introducing principles of empirical and theoretical analysis in political science
  • One class in statistics
  • One class in empirical research methods
  • One class in political philosophy
  • Reading proficiency in one language other than English (demonstrated by two semesters of intermediate-level college coursework or an exam) or knowledge of advanced statistics (demonstrated by three semesters of course work or an exam)
  • A second-year paper and related workshop
  • A doctoral thesis

In addition, doctoral students are required to elect two of the following major fields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, models and methods, political economy, and security studies. In each of the two elected fields, students will take a written general exam followed by a single oral general exam covering both fields. Specific fields may have additional requirements.

Students may take subjects in other MIT departments. Cross-registration arrangements also permit enrollment in subjects taught in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University and in some of Harvard's other graduate schools. Students are encouraged to do field research and develop close working ties with faculty members engaged in major research activities.

Inquiries

Additional information regarding graduate programs in the department and admissions may be obtained from the graduate administrator, Susan Twarog, 617-253-8336. Written inquiries should be addressed to Department of Political Science, Room E53-467.

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Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Teaching Staff

Melissa Nobles, PhD
Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science
Department Head

Professors

Suzanne Berger, PhD
Raphael Dorman and Helen Starbuck Professor of Political Science

Adam Berinsky, PhD
Professor of Political Science

Andrea Campbell, PhD
Professor of Political Science

Nazli Choucri, PhD
Professor of Political Science

Francis Gavin, PhD
Frank Stanton Professor of Nuclear Security Policy Studies

Evan S. Lieberman
Total Professor of Contemporary Africa

Roger Petersen, PhD
Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science
(On leave)

Barry R. Posen, PhD
Ford Foundation International Professor of Political Science
Director, Security Studies Program

Richard J. Samuels, PhD
Ford International Professor of Political Science
Director, Center for International Studies

Ben Ross Schneider, PhD
Ford International Professor of Political Science
(On leave)

Charles Stewart III, PhD
Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor
Professor of Political Science

Kathleen Thelen, PhD
Ford Professor of Political Science
(On leave)

Stephen W. Van Evera, PhD
Ford International Professor of Political Science

Associate Professors

Fotini Christia, PhD
Associate Professor of Political Science

Taylor Fravel, PhD
Associate Professor of Political Science

Chappell H. Lawson, PhD
Associate Professor of Political Science

Vipin Narang, PhD
Mitsui Career Development Associate Professor of Political Science

Kenneth A. Oye, PhD
Associate Professor of Political Science and Engineering Systems

David Andrew Singer, PhD
Associate Professor of Political Science
(On leave, fall)

Lily Tsai, PhD
Associate Professor of Political Science

Assistant Professors

Regina Bateson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Devin Caughey, PhD
Assistant Professor of Political Science
(On leave, fall)

Daniel Hidalgo, PhD
Assistant Professor of Political Science
(On leave)

In Song Kim, PhD
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Richard Nielson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Lucas Stanczyk, PhD
Assistant Professor of Political Science
(On leave)

Christopher Warshaw, PhD
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Teppei Yamamoto, PhD
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Professors Emeriti

Donald L. M. Blackmer, PhD
Professor of Political Science, Emeritus

Joshua Cohen, PhD
Professor of Political Science, Emeritus

Willard R. Johnson, PhD
Professor of Political Science, Emeritus

Richard M. Locke, PhD
Class of 1922 Professor of Political Science and Management, Emeritus

Michael Joseph Piore, PhD
David W. Skinner Professor of Political Economy and Political Science, Emeritus

George W. Rathjens, PhD
Professor of Political Science, Emeritus

Harvey M. Sapolsky, PhD
Professor of Political Science, Emeritus

Eugene B. Skolnikoff, PhD
Professor of Political Science, Emeritus

 

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