Ph.D. Program

Degree Requirements & Curriculum

The Jackson School Ph.D. program’s curriculum is organized around four foundational fields into which it integrates a grounding in research methodologies and area studies specialization.


  • Complete 100 credits, to include: up to 30 credits transferred from M.A. degree, 45 credits in UW Ph.D. courses, and at least 27 dissertation credits.
  • Participate in and present once at bridge lab series.
  • Present preliminary prospectus at JSIS Ph.D. Capstone Workshop during spring quarter of your first year.
  • Preliminary exams (both written and oral) during winter quarter of the second year.
  • Oral general exam (prospectus defense) during spring quarter of the final year.
  • Complete dissertation and pass oral final exam (dissertation defense).


Introduction to International and Area Studies

JSIS 594 International and Area Studies (2 credits) serves as a gateway to international and area studies at the graduate level in the Jackson School. It is taken in autumn quarter of Year 1 and is a required course.

Research Tutorial

JSIS 595 The Research Tutorial is a 15-credit sequence of three courses taken during the first year of the PhD Program. It provides intensive doctoral-level training on the approaches, issues, techniques, and concepts in social science research methods to help advance each student’s specific research agenda. The focus is not just on learning the range of methodologies in the social sciences, but on actively reading, discussing, and parsing those that are more specifically of interest to the student in advancing their own research agenda. The three courses in the sequence cover research design (autumn quarter), introduction to qualitative methods (winter quarter), and introduction to quantitative methods (spring quarter).

Field Seminars

Doctoral students are required to take two of the four foundational field courses. The objective of these courses is to advance a student’s foundational knowledge in a specific field within the broader area of international studies. Students will learn about key analytical questions, competing theories, methodological approaches, and challenges in the field with a view towards identifying the lacunae that they can use to situate and advance their own research agendas.

JSIS 596: Field Seminar in Religions, Cultures, and Civilizations (RCC) The RCC field engages the diversity of cultural and religious life throughout the world, anchored by concrete studies of world areas, histories, cultural and political movements, and religious institutions and practices. The RCC field covers topics such as religious cultures (e.g., Jewish Studies, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism); cultural identities; social movements and political violence; civilizational, political and historical changes, and much more.

JSIS 597: Field Seminar in States, Markets, and Societies (SMS) The interaction of state organizations, economic forces, and social dynamics is at the heart of the SMS field. The SMS field subsumes a variety of comparative topics spread across all areas and regions of the world, including political economy, revolutions, ethnicity, gender, nationalism, democracy, political parties, electoral systems, civil societies, NGOs, social movements, and development (e.g., poverty, health, education).

JSIS 598: Field Seminar in Peace, Violence, and Security (PVS) The central preoccupations of the PVS field are issues of war and peace, violence and brutality, national and international security, as well as internal and transnational conflict management. The PVS field covers topics such as proliferation / non-proliferation, WMD, disarmament, arms control, nationalism, ethnic conflict, genocide, offense-defense balance, weaponry, intelligence, invasions, interventions, peacekeeping, arms control, national security, etc.

JSIS 599: Field Seminar in Law, Rights, and Governance (LRG) The multidisciplinary field of LRG focuses on unveiling the interactions among law, institutions, and policy in international, transnational, and regional contexts. The LRG field covers topics such as human rights, international economics, human security, environment, crime, energy, multilateral global and regional institutions, international tribunals, courts, justice, rule of law, etc.

Area Studies Specialization

All students must complete 3 courses focused on their area specialization of choice. In addition to the Jackson School courses, you will find relevant courses in a number of departments and schools such as American Ethnic Studies, Anthropology, Communications, Geography, History, Law, Marine and Environmental Affairs, Political Science, Public Health, Sociology, Social Work and others. The area studies centers housed at the Jackson School are excellent resources for students looking for courses focused on a specific region, but not necessarily in a specific academic discipline. Lists of these area studies courses can be found on the websites of the Jackson School Centers that engage these areas. If you are unable to find a course that suits your needs, Faculty Advisers will help you create and complete independent study courses.

Methods Specialization

Students must complete 2 classes on advanced methods, in addition to the research tutorial. These courses can be strictly quantitative, strictly qualitative or some combination of qualitative and quantitative. Students work with their Faculty Advisers to determine the methods courses that will position them to complete the research necessary for their dissertation project.

Quantitative The UW is proud to house the Center for Statistics and Social Sciences (CSSS), which offers a diverse selection of courses in statistical methods for the social sciences. The Jackson School and CSSS formally recognize all students who acquire substantial expertise in social statistics.

Qualitative The UW and the Jackson School’s QUAL Program, which has a concentration for students acquiring advanced expertise in qualitative methods. They host a list of qualitative methods courses taught each year on their website.