Graduate Programs

PhD in Politics and International Affairs

The doctoral degree in politics and international affairs is an interdisciplinary program designed to prepare students to teach at the university and college levels and to conduct high-level research in the academic and nonacademic sectors. It combines a broad focus on international relations, comparative politics, American politics, and political theory with a critical understanding of institutions, rights, citizenship/identity, governance, global policy, and justice. Students work closely with faculty to frame their dissertation research and to advance their knowledge of their chosen fields of specialization. The program’s interdisciplinary approach to a variety of global issues provides a rich and open-ended opportunity to research current and past problems, movements, and transformations in politics.


We welcome your interest in our doctoral program. The department's deadline for fall admission is January 5. The School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies only admits for the fall semester. Students must apply online through the Office of Graduate Admissions. For a listing of the admission requirements, students should consult the Graduate Catalog

*Effective starting with the 2023-2024 admissions cycle, GRE test scores are no longer required for applications to our doctoral program in Politics and International Affairs*

*International students should review the Office of Admissions International Students website for additional information and requirements.

*International students are also encouraged to contact the Office of International Services for information on visas, international travel, etc. 

Program Requirements

For the Doctoral Degree in Politics and International Affairs degree requirements, students should consult the Graduate Catalog. Students should adhere to the requirements within the Graduate Catalog under which they were admitted.

*Students can elect another catalog following the one they were admitted under. More information on this policy, and other policies, can be found in the Graduate Catalog.

*Students must request approval from the graduate director for any course not pre-approved and listed under the degree in the Graduate Catalog. 

Research Fields

The Doctorate in Politics and International Affairs specializes in the following four fields of research:

International Relations
In the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies, the International Relations (IR) faculty focuses on four areas of study: international relations theory, global political economy, international security, and human rights. We stress the importance of cutting-edge scholarship in our teaching of the graduate seminars as well as bridging the many emergent gaps in theory and practice in the various subfields that comprise International Relations, including American foreign policy, international ethics, global governance, and international law and organizations. One of our central aims is to advance innovative applications of the central theoretical perspectives (and their variant strands) in International Relations, namely, realism, liberalism, critical theory, constructivism, Marxism, international political theory, and gender. These applications involve in-depth theoretical and empirical analysis of key global issues, such as Asian security, moral accountability, the enforcement of human rights, immigration, and political and economic inequality. The International Relations faculty have published numerous books and peer-reviewed articles on these issue areas. These include monographs on the political tensions on the Korean Peninsula or North Korea’s nuclear arms buildup, the political cosmopolitan character and shifting dynamics of the International Criminal Court (ICC), hegemony and inequality in the global political economy, and China’s rapidly increasing support of intervention in African states. Together our published research emphasizes the production of critical theoretic knowledge, or the advanced methodological analysis of the contradictions and tensions informing the substantive debates in International Relations. This not only requires the particular mastery of concepts, methods, and claims but also an open-ended and historical understanding of the changing social forces shaping the behavior of states and the relations among global and local actors. It is this scholarly approach that we adopt to train our graduate students specializing in international relations, particularly as they advance their dissertation research and empirical knowledge of the global and regional contexts of problems and issues. One of the outcomes we strive for, then, is to encourage our doctoral students to develop rigorous theoretical and contextual analysis from which they can devise solutions and prescriptions to global issues.

Comparative Politics
Comparative Politics in the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies is committed to theory-driven, empirical research from an interdisciplinary perspective that is situated in a political, historical, cultural, and economic context.  The Comparative Politics faculty employ a variety of methodological approaches from both the social sciences and humanities, which utilize qualitative and quantitative research methods to study the patterns of similarities and differences. In particular, we conduct comparative and case study research to inquire into these patterns and to develop our theoretical propositions. One of our aims is to produce knowledge about the changing social, political, and legal conditions affecting the lives, development, cultural practices, and customs of underrepresented peoples. In meeting this aim, our research focuses on several themes of comparative politics, including social movements, democracy/democratization, citizenship, decolonization, genocide, hegemony, race and identity, development, legal systems and customary law, social justice, and indigenismo or the political ideology focusing on the changing relations of state and local peoples. Much of our published research draws creatively on social, critical, and political theory to advance knowledge of the laws, changing social relations, and attitudes in several countries, which includes Brazil, Ecuador, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Iran. Our research strengths lie in the areas of race and citizenship, social movements theory, human security and law (or legal custom) in Eastern Africa, indigenous rights in various Latin American countries, and security relations in the Middle East. With these thematic foci, we encourage graduate students to create and develop their own research by selecting a region of the world as their emphasis and adopting theoretically informed research and comparative methods that allow them to analyze the changing social and political conditions in the countries of this region.

American Politics
The study of American Politics in the doctorate program in politics and international affairs provides a comprehensive overview as well as an in-depth analysis of American politics. Our faculty focus on various aspects of American politics, including theoretical foundations, federalism, institutions (Congress, the executive branch, the bureaucracy, the judiciary), political behavior (political parties, the media, interest groups, social movements, and elections), and public policy (foreign and domestic), and employ a range of methodological approaches such as historical development, legal doctrine, institutional rules, and quantitative analyses of the behavior of political actors and the mass public, to advance the student's research skills.  Our core class, Seminar in American Politics, for instance, surveys the key foundations, institutions, and behavior in American politics, introducing students to both qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches for analyzing and testing the changing trends and outcomes in American politics. Special topics courses provide opportunities to gain in-depth knowledge on new research on a range of themes, including political development, the social bases of politics, and the global impact of American politics. The faculty in American politics have made important contributions in the areas of race and ethnicity, the judiciary, the presidency, Florida government, civil liberties, health care, environmental justice, economic inequality, and animal rights. Our strengths lie in economic inequality, animal rights, the Presidency, Judicial Behavior, Race and Ethnicity, and State and Local Government. In these specific areas, we have published several cutting-edge books and articles in leading peer-reviewed journals, which examine the emergence and implementation of nonhuman animals' regime of rights, the changing directions of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and its impact on world politics, and alternative strategies for natural disasters in the United States. Our scholarship is thus distinctive for the ways in which it addresses American government and politics in a global context. This is how we seek to train our doctoral students on the rapidly changing, nuanced linkages between local, state, federal and global institutional politics.  

Political Theory
Political Theory introduces students to the core normative issues in the study of political science. These normative issues provide the bedrock assumptions on which much of the study of political science depends. For example, while nearly everyone agrees that democracy is the best form of government, why do we place such faith in it? In addition, the long tradition of political thought offers multiple versions of democracy, each with its own strengths and limitations. How are we to identify the best version for our needs? Similarly, while we might extol non-violence in politics, is it always the best path for political movements? How are we to justify its alternatives? Clarifying our moral commitments, sharpening our conceptual tools, and outlining pathways for transforming theoretical knowledge into action requires philosophical, historical, and conceptual capabilities. The political theory faculty at the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies trains students to develop these capabilities. To that end, political theory classes not only familiarize students with many of the canonical texts that were read by generations of prominent political thinkers (from Aristotle to Martin Luther King Jr), they also teach students to read these texts critically and with an eye towards contemporary political developments. As such, training in political theory is a critical supplement to graduate work at School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies. The faculty’s expertise in feminist theory, postcolonial theory, the role of emotions in politics, environmental political thought, and Indian political thought complements the terminal degrees offered in American Politics, Comparative Politics, and International Relations.

Financial Assistance 

Most of our successful applicants qualify for funding offered by the department or the Office of Graduate Studies. Funded doctoral students will receive a graduate assistantship that includes:

  • a stipend for the academic year (9 months)
  • a tuition waiver (not including school fees)
  • the option of health insurance mostly paid by the department (the student only pays a small amount towards insurance).

All applicants for the doctoral degree are considered for a graduate assistantship - they do not need to complete a separate form.

The graduate assistantship is guaranteed for four years but is based on maintaining satisfactory annual academic progress. It requires each student to work 20 hours per week, in which case the student would be first assisting professors of the department with their teaching and class preparations and later, after having passed the doctoral comprehensive exams and completed teacher training seminars, teach a class at the University of South Florida. 

Please visit the graduate assistantships page for further information. The department also provides funding for conference travel or the presentation of research at conferences upon approval.

Information on eligibility for graduate assistantships can be found on the Graduate Assistantships Resource Center website. 

We also strive to fund our students in the fifth year, though this funding is not guaranteed. Depending on additional funds that become available, students may have the opportunity to extend their graduate assistantship to one, possibly two academic semesters. Students in the fifth year are also encouraged to seek external funding. For more information on this, please consult our Graduate Resources Page.

Outstanding candidates may also be nominated by the school’s director and/or graduate committee for prestigious and highly competitive university fellowships, including the Presidential Doctoral Fellowship, the Dorothy Auzenne Fellowship, and the University Graduate Fellowship. There is also the opportunity for minority students to be awarded a McKnight Fellowship, which provides annual tuition up to $5,000 for each of three academic years, plus an annual stipend of $12,000. The program also offers travel grants and other forms of financial support. For additional information on this fellowship opportunity, please visit the McKnight Fellowship's informational page.

Recent Placements

Recent Placements
Name Graduation Year Placement
Kal Demerew 2023 Assistant Professor of Political Science at West Texas A&M University
Camara Silver 2022 Term Assistant Professor of Political Science, Barnard College-Columbia University
Ben Luongo 2022 Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of South Florida
Andrew Sparks 2021 Instructor, Pasco-Hernando State College
Camara Silver 2021 Visiting Assistant Professor, West Point
James Fry 2020 Analyst (Public Policy), Florida Digital Service
Michael Spencer 2020 Instructor, University of South Florida
Kenneth Brown 2020 Senior Naval Warfare Analyst, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)
Nathan Barrick 2019 Deputy Chief of Strategy & Analysis, US Special Operations Command

Maria Gonzalez Malabet

2019 Assistant Professor,
Universidad del Norte, Colombia
Sommer Mitchell 2018 Assistant Teaching Professor, Pennsylvania State University-University Park
Raheleh Dayerizadeh 2018 Director of the Global Citizen's Project, University of South Florida
Nicole Ford 2017 Adjunct Professor, University of Tampa
Alexis Mootoo 2017 Associate Director Regional Planning, University of South Florida
Mark Grzegorzewski 2015 Resident Senior Fellow, Joint Special Operations Command
Bledar Prifti 2014 Associate Professor, St Petersburg College

For further information or questions about the PhD in Politics and International Affairs, please fill out this form