Political Science


Thomas J. Vicino, PhD
Professor and Chair

Graduate Program Directors

Mai'a K. Davis Cross, PhD
Director of Graduate Studies

Daniel Aldrich, PhD
MS Security and Resilience Studies Program

903 Renaissance Park
617.373.5311 (fax)

Graduate Programs Contact
Rosy Trovato, Graduate Program Administrator, r.trovato@northeastern.edu

CSSH Graduate Programs General Regulations

Graduate training in political science prepares students to analyze important issues in world affairs and succeed in a wide array of careers—from government and academia to the nonprofit and private sectors. Graduate programs in political science, public policy, public administration, security and resilience studies, and international affairs at Northeastern explore the theory and practice of politics, public policy, and public management in the United States and throughout the world. In teaching and research, faculty members in the department cover a broad range of topics and issues in the field of political science. Core areas of inquiry within our department include national and international security, international and U.S. public policy, resilience, network science, European studies, Middle East studies, and democratization and development.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Master of Arts (MA)

Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Master of Science (MS)

Graduate Certificate

Political Science Courses

POLS 5976. Directed Study. 1-4 Hours.

Offers assigned reading under the supervision of a faculty member. May be repeated without limit.

POLS 6962. Elective. 1-4 Hours.

Offers elective credit for courses taken at other academic institutions. May be repeated without limit.

POLS 6964. Co-op Work Experience. 0 Hours.

Provides eligible students with an opportunity for work experience. May be repeated without limit.

POLS 7200. Perspectives on Social Science Inquiry. 4 Hours.

Explores the philosophy of science and the scientific method as applied to the social sciences and political analysis. Considers individualist perspectives (that is, rational choice), group perspectives (pluralism), structural/institutional perspectives (class analysis), and postmodern critiques.

POLS 7201. Research Design. 4 Hours.

Provides an overview of research methods and tools used by social scientists including survey research, elite interviews, statistical approaches, case studies, comparative analysis, use of history, and experimental/nonexperimental design.

POLS 7202. Quantitative Techniques. 4 Hours.

Teaches the use of social science quantitative techniques, emphasizing applications of value to public sector analysts and scholars alike. Includes descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, cross-tabulation, bivariate regression and correlation, and multiple regression. Examines how to generate and interpret statistical analyses through use of SPSS.

POLS 7204. Seminar in Public Policy. 4 Hours.

Provides a comprehensive introduction to key theoretical perspectives in the study of public policy. Includes different perspectives on policy change, policy formation, policy design, and policy implementation. Seeks to prepare students to apply a policy theory to their own research question.

POLS 7205. Seminar in American Government and Politics. 4 Hours.

Focuses on major research approaches and corresponding academic literature in U.S. politics. Examines the scholarly analysis of key actors in U.S. politics, including the presidency, Congress, the judiciary, and political parties.

POLS 7206. Seminar in Comparative Politics. 4 Hours.

Focuses on major research paradigms within comparative politics, including political culture, structuralism, and rational choice. Examines major research fields in the discipline, including democratization, nationalism, ethnic politics, political economy, and political parties.

POLS 7207. Seminar in International Relations. 4 Hours.

Focuses on major research approaches and corresponding academic literature in international relations. Examines major fields of study, including international security, international regimes, international organizations, globalization, and international political economy.

POLS 7257. The U.S. Judicial Process. 4 Hours.

Studies the judicial process in the United States, emphasizing federal courts. Focuses on theories and empirical research regarding judicial decision making, how and why judges decide what they do, and with what political effects.

POLS 7313. State Government. 4 Hours.

Appraises the problems of contemporary state government in the United States. Emphasizes the diversity of political institutions, political processes, and public policies in the states.

POLS 7325. Contemporary Issues in Third World Development. 4 Hours.

Examines the major themes in development studies today. Explores approaches to the development and production, population growth, equity and poverty, rural and urban development, health and nutrition, education, and the international context of development assistance. Students considering a development administration concentration should try to take this course as their first in the field of development.

POLS 7333. Science, Technology, and Public Policy. 4 Hours.

Discusses the impacts of breakthroughs in science and technology on politics and public policy making—and how politics in turn influences scientific research and technological development. Examines differences between scientific and democratic values, competing definitions of rationality, the nature of problems, policy-making processes, questions of intellectual property rights, and debates over risk assessment, including the “precautionary principle.” Focuses primarily on the United States but with comparisons to the European Union and other areas of the world. Anchors discussion in such areas as (for example) biotechnology, nanotechnology, alternative energy sources, and artificial intelligence.

POLS 7334. Social Networks. 4 Hours.

Offers an overview of the literature on social networks, with literature from political science, sociology, economics, and physics. Analyzes the underlying topology of networks and how we visualize and analyze network data. Key topics include small-world literature and the spread of information and disease. Students who do not meet course prerequisites may seek permission of instructor.

POLS 7341. Security and Resilience Policy. 4 Hours.

Examines the post-9/11 evolution of security and the new emphasis on bolstering societal, infrastructure, system, and network resilience. Emphasizes the complex organizational; jurisdictional (international, federal, state, and local); private-sector; and civil-society issues associated with managing the risk of terrorism, cyber-attacks, and naturally occurring disasters. Topics include policy development and implementation of critical infrastructure protection, cybersecurity, supply chain security, disaster management, and community resilience.

POLS 7343. Counterterrorism. 4 Hours.

Examines the most important empirical and theoretical debates on counterterrorism. Analyzes the motives and strategies of key actors in the development of approaches to counterterrorism.

POLS 7344. Hard Power, Soft Power, and Smart Power. 4 Hours.

Examines different forms of power in an international context. Includes conceptual and empirical examinations of the various types of power, the actors who have power, and the contexts under which power is exercised.

POLS 7346. Resilient Cities. 4 Hours.

Examines the characteristics of resilient cities, especially those located in coastal regions. Investigates the capacity of cities to respond to major disruptions to their social and ecological systems. Includes extensive use of case studies, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as well as readings on cities and social systems. Offers students an opportunity to analyze an urban area and provide recommendations for improving its resilience. POLS 7346 and PPUA 7346 are cross-listed.

POLS 7362. Nationalism. 4 Hours.

Focuses on contending theories of nationalism and nationalist movements. Topics include cultural objectification and the establishment of group boundaries, ethnic elites and cultural hegemony, mass mobilization, intergroup socioeconomic disparities, nationalism and modernity, nationalist parties and their policy strategies, and the “constitution” of race, particularly in the Americas.

POLS 7366. Genocide in a Comparative Perspective. 4 Hours.

Takes an interdisciplinary approach (that is, history, political science, and sociology) to the study of genocide. Examines the meaning of the concept in historical and philosophical terms, the societal and psychological causes of genocide, and specific cases throughout history, with emphasis on more recent episodes.

POLS 7369. International Security. 4 Hours.

Examines key problems in international security that are faced by nation-states and international and nongovernment organizations. Examples include armed violence, terrorism, organized crime, nuclear proliferation, poverty, and energy security. Explores responses that include international cooperation and the establishment of international norms. Analyzes related literature and theoretical perspectives.

POLS 7370. Europe and European Union Governance. 4 Hours.

Surveys the institutions, processes, and value constructs that structure political, economic, military, monetary, financial, and cultural activity in Europe, with an emphasis on the effect of the European Union and the challenges it presents.

POLS 7376. Government and Politics of the Middle East. 4 Hours.

Examines the political and economic structures of the Arab states, Iran, Turkey, and Israel as well as inter-Arab politics and interstate conflict in the area. Emphasis is on Islam and politics, gender politics, and civil society.

POLS 7387. Global Governance. 4 Hours.

Introduces the concept of global governance and the core architectural elements of the current system of global governance. Examines the key policy purposes and tasks carried out by global governance processes.

POLS 7390. Topical Seminar in American Politics. 4 Hours.

Examines current issues in the area of American government and politics. May be repeated without limit.

POLS 7394. Topical Seminar in International Relations. 4 Hours.

Examines current issues in the area of international relations. May be repeated without limit.

POLS 7441. Cyberconflict. 4 Hours.

Examines the literature, policy reports, and important news stories about the domain of cybersecurity and conflict. Analyzes contending perspectives on the role and impact of cybersecurity. Utilizes social science theories and methods to explore this method of conflict.

POLS 7704. Critical Infrastructure Resilience. 4 Hours.

Explores the growing vulnerability of our human-made built environment to a range of risks. Using the new paradigm centered on the concept of resilience, examines how best to safeguard the critical foundations that provide transport, communications, water, energy, and other essential functions in the face of disasters, growing urbanization, climate change, and globalization. Identifies solutions that are scientifically credible, informed by data and sound engineering principles, while concurrently grounded in an understanding of social and policy imperatives. Offers students an opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge acquired in the course to a real-life example through a group project.

POLS 7962. Elective. 1-4 Hours.

Offers elective credit for courses taken at other academic institutions. May be repeated without limit.

POLS 7976. Directed Study. 1-4 Hours.

Offers assigned reading under the supervision of a faculty member. May be repeated without limit.

POLS 7980. Capstone Project. 4 Hours.

Offers students an opportunity to complete a specialized research or applied project in political science or security studies as part of the master’s degree. Designed to meet the specific learning and research interests of the student. Learning experience is based on group or individual activities that meet agreed-upon benchmarks with the instructor and may involve activities with government or nongovernment organizations. Scope of the project varies by credit hours earned.

POLS 7990. Thesis. 4-8 Hours.

Offers thesis supervision by individual members of the department. May be repeated without limit.

POLS 8407. Internship. 4,8 Hours.

Offers work experience (at least fifteen hours per week) that includes planning, research, policy development, and other administrative aspects in a government or nonprofit organization. May be repeated without limit.

POLS 8960. Exam Preparation—Doctoral. 0 Hours.

Offers the student the opportunity to prepare for the PhD qualifying exam under faculty supervision.

POLS 8986. Research. 0 Hours.

Offers an opportunity to conduct full-time research under faculty supervision. May be repeated without limit.

POLS 9000. PhD Candidacy Achieved. 0 Hours.

Indicates successful completion of the doctoral comprehensive exam.

POLS 9986. Research. 0 Hours.

Offers an opportunity to conduct full-time research under faculty supervision. May be repeated without limit.

POLS 9990. Dissertation. 0 Hours.

Offers dissertation supervision by individual members of the department. May be repeated once.

POLS 9996. Dissertation Continuation. 0 Hours.

Offers continued dissertation supervision by individual members of the department. May be repeated without limit.