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Curriculum | PhD

You will work closely with faculty advisors to develop an academic plan that best supports your dissertation research. Throughout the program you will develop a comprehensive understanding of qualitative and quantitative analytic skills, international relations, economics, and regional studies.

International Economics

All PhD candidates must demonstrate competence in international economics. Students who have completed the two-year Master of Arts in International Relations degree at Johns Hopkins SAIS are accepted as having met this requirement.

Students who have completed their Master’s degrees elsewhere must demonstrate competency by fulfilling the following courses: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory. Waiver exam options are offered to those who have demonstrated equivalence in coursework at another institution.

Comprehensive Exams

PhD students must select three examination areas from among the following:

  • American Foreign Policy
  • Comparative Politics
  • Energy, Resources & Environment
  • International Development
  • International Economics*
  • International Political Economy/ Comparative Political Economy
  • International Relations Theory (including International Law and Conflict Management)
  • Strategic Studies
  • Regional Studies: Africa Studies, Asia Studies (China, Korea, Japan, South Asia, Southeast Asia), Canadian Studies, European and Eurasian Studies, Latin American Studies, Middle East Studies
  • Comprehensive exams from other divisions of Johns Hopkins University may be considered on a case by case basis.

*International Economics is not an exam, but rather a series of advanced coursework.

PhD Dissertation

At the time of application, students will propose a research topic they would like to pursue for their doctoral dissertation. During their course of study, students will hone this topic in consultation with a faculty advisor and defend a prospectus that outlines the dissertation’s research questions, mission, and methodology. The PhD dissertation must be an original and analytical treatment of a subject of conceptual importance. To conduct the research for, write, and defend the dissertation, a candidate will have a period of five years from the defense of the prospectus. It is understood that in fields with exceptionally difficult languages the process may take longer.

Foreign Language Proficiency

Students must be able to show language proficiency in a second language as part of their graduation requirements. The language of examination cannot be the students’ native language. Students who are not US citizens, and whose native language is not English, can take the English proficiency exam to meet this requirement. PhD candidates are only required to take the reading component of the language proficiency exams for the second foreign language requirement.