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Learning Assessment & Goals

The Graduate Program in Political Science at Rutgers University trains students for receiving a PhD in Political Science.

The Graduate Program meets the standards set by the main professional organization in the political science discipline, The American Political Science Association. It meets these standards at an advanced level for all aspects of the discipline’s subfields: American politics, political theory (philosophy), comparative politics, international relations, women and politics, and public law.

Learning Goal 1 for Students: Attain mastery of the essential aspects of scholarship and research in the field of political science

Assessment of student achievement of Goal 1:

  • Grades in graduate courses
  • Annual faculty review by faculty of student progress with close advising and mentoring, including sub-field review and evaluation of student progress in each course taken
  • Second Year Graduate Student Conference that requires students to present a paper before department faculty and advanced level graduate students prior to presenting the paper at a scholarly conference
  • Comprehensive examinations which assess the depth and breadth of knowledge in two of the discipline’s sub-fields
  • Specific procedures designed to create solid foundations for doctoral dissertation research, such as sub-field seminars that enhance student knowledge of that process

Role of the program in helping students to achieve Goal 1:

  • Provide comprehensive advising and assist in the identification of mentors
  • Provide a study rubric to maximize success on comprehensive examinations
  • Provide close advising to assure that students are being prepared in a coherent and academically rigorous manner
  • Effective monitoring of student progress
  • Evaluations of teaching effectiveness of instructors in graduate courses through evaluations conducted each semester
  • If effectiveness is below expectations, work with instructors to improve their teaching effectiveness
  • Periodic review of curricular offerings and assessment tools  by graduate program faculty, in consultation with the office of the dean of the graduate school and/or the unit dean


Learning Goal 2 for Students: Conduct original research for PhD by completing a doctoral dissertation

Assessment of student achievement of Goal 2 is conducted by:

  • Encourage entering students to apply for fellowships for first year graduate students
  • Assessment of quality of doctoral dissertation through periodic and structured interaction with dissertation committee members
  • Critical reading of dissertation by committee of graduate faculty members
  • Public defense of doctoral dissertation 
  • Submission and presentation of papers at academic conferences
  • Submission and acceptance of articles in scholarly journals in the political science discipline
  • Obtaining evidence of student achievement by continuation of graduate studies and professional placement following successful defense of doctoral dissertation

Role of the program in helping graduate students to achieve Goal 2:

  •  Requiring students to take courses in qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Provide opportunities to present research at scholarly conferences and receive feedback
  • Encourage students to present research results at such conferences
  • Maintain adequate funding levels through the dissertation research phase
  • Provide assistance to students seeking external funding via Chaser - The Resource Center for Graduate Student External Support
  • Use department resources, e.g., Porte Fund, to help students improve their research
  • Assist students in acquiring supplemental funding (on a competitive basis) for graduate student research and travel  
  • To assist students in participating in special study opportunities, such as summer institutes for qualitative and quantitative research
  • Encourage students to apply for external funding in support of their doctoral research
  • Encourage students to apply for rewards for their research and teaching accomplishments


Learning Goal 3 for Students: Preparing them to be professionals in their discipline

Assessment of graduate student achievement of Goal 3:

  • Review evidence of papers presented, publications and professional networking
  •  Aggregate evaluations of teaching effectiveness of graduate student instructors
  • Collection of placement data
  • Ongoing consultation between Graduate Director and department Placement Officer

Role of the program in helping graduate students to achieve Goal 3:

  • Teach students how to conduct assessments in their future professional capacities
  • Facilitate flexible options for students with interdisciplinary interests, e.g., by encouraging to participate in programs offered by Rutgers University interdisciplinary centers
  • Teach students networking skills that will enhance the possibilities of professional success
  • Acquaint students with non-academic career opportunities, e.g. positions with the federal state and local governments, NGOs, and “think tanks.”
  • Conducting periodic teaching workshops to enhance teaching effectiveness of recent PhDs once they obtain a faculty position
  • Acquaint recent PhDs with opportunities for post-doctoral research prior to pursuing a full-time academic position

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