PhD in Political Science

PhD in Political Science

Gain research-focused expertise in the study of politics and government in the U.S. and abroad, preparing you for influential roles in academia, research, and careers in government, consulting, nonprofits, and nongovernmental organizations.

2020 U.S. News and World badge ranking for public affairs, national security and emergency management

The PhD in Political Science program at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government prepares you for teaching, research, and careers in government, consulting, nonprofits, and nongovernmental organizations. The program allows you to combine your studies with experience in the kinds of complex domestic and international political organizations you will be studying.

This model for political science education, patterned after the American Political Science Association’s Congressional Fellows Program, is designed to foster scholarship and a firsthand understanding of domestic and international institutions such as think tanks, international bodies, nongovernmental organizations, journals of political opinion, and congressional and executive branch offices. 

The Schar School's political science graduate programs are ranked in the top twenty percent in the world, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities. With over eighty full-time faculty, the Schar School is one of the largest and most vibrant schools of its kind. The faculty hold degrees not only in political science, but also in economics, sociology, international relations, geography, regional science, international relations, civil engineering, medicine, history, anthropology, organizational behavior, and law.

Political science doctoral students specialize in one of four fields:

  • American Politics and Government
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Public Administration

Browse course descriptions and learn more about the political science doctoral program's degree requirements.

Learn more about our current students and their research interests.

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Notice:
Mason has moved to virtual instruction for its on-campus programs for the spring 2020 semester. Faculty and staff who normally work on-campus are teleworking and are fully available to support students. Visit Mason's Coronavirus Information page for more information, including affected dates and frequently asked questions. For questions as a prospective student, please don't hesitate to contact the Schar School Office of Graduate Admissions at

Photo of Michaela Dodge

"I had a great experience at Mason. I would highlight the world-class faculty and professors who are willing to help students and make time for them—I really appreciated that."
—Michaela Dodge, PhD in Political Science '19

Photo of Jatia Wrighten

"What I know now is my work [studying women in legislative office] is important, and somebody else noticed."
—Jatia Wrighten, PhD in Political Science '18


Photo of Bassam Haddad and Peter Mandaville

With George Mason University's prime location in the Washington, D.C. area, Schar School students gain access to leading scholars and practitioners who bring real-world experience to the classroom, providing you with the mentorship and skillsets needed to advance in your career.

The Schar School as a whole has 80+ faculty members, as well as hundreds of adjunct faculty, allowing students to gain access to a variety of perspectives and subjects through elective courses. Notable faculty members include program director Mariely Lopez-Santana, Dean Mark J. Rozell, Jennifer Victor, Jeremy Mayer, Mark Katz, Trevor Thrall, and Toni-Michelle Travis, Peter Mandaville, Robert Deitz, Michael Hayden, and more.

Professor Ahsan Butt Schar School Stimson Center Lecture

One of the signature components of the Schar School graduate student experience is that there is both a dedicated Student Services Office and a Career Services Office, which provide you with academic and professional planning support. Additionally, the Career Services Office continues to provide professional development and career planning support to Schar School alumni.


Photo of Michaela Dodge

Study of U.S.-Czech Missile Defense Leads to Schar School PhD in Political Science

Originally from the Czech Republic, Michaela Dodge first became interested in missile defense as a college student. Her home country was considering hosting a U.S. missile defense site at the time, she said, and she became fascinated with debates surrounding the controversial topic.


Photo from the 2018 Political Networks Conference

Conference Explores the Science of Political Networks

The 11th Annual Political Networks Conference and Workshops brought in experts who presented in talks, panel discussions, poster exhibitions, and workshops on network analysis and theory, big data, network visualization, and other topics. 


Photo of Schar School professors Jeremy Mayer and Jennifer Victor

What it Means to Censure a President

Schar School professors Jeremy Mayer and Jennifer Victor share their thoughts on what it means to censure a president, along with the consequences that would ensue.


Photo of Jatia Wrighten

Why Are Black Women Shut Out of Leadership Roles in State Houses?

A record number of women of all races are currently serving in state houses across the country. While Jatia Wrighten said she is thrilled by the progress women have made in state legislatures as senators and representatives, she’s less excited by the leadership gaps that exist in every state capital.