Ph.D. Curriculum

Required Courses & Electives


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.

JSIS 594 uses the concept of the “state and beyond” to showcase linkages between the four international studies themes of the Ph.D. Program and area-based studies. Students are invited to grapple with the historical evolution of “the state,” and to understand the strengths and limits of this concept over time as it travels across countries, regions, issues, topics and emerging agendas in the world order.

Doctoral students are strongly advised to use the exposure to the faculty and readings in this course in the service of their own dissertation ideas.


The Research Tutorial is a 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 practically 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).


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 within the field with a view to identifying the lacunae that they can use to situate and advance their own research agendas.

Only one field seminar course is taught per quarter and they are taught on a rotating basis during autumn, winter and spring quarters. Please plan your schedule accordingly.

Autumn 2019 Winter 2020 Spring 2020
Autumn 2020 Winter 2021 Spring 2021
Autumn 2021 Winter 2022 Spring 2022
Autumn 2022 Winter 2023 Spring 2023

JSIS 596: Field Seminar in Religions, Cultures & 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.  Employing historical, ethnographic, sociological, hermeneutic and other social scientific methods, the RCC field explores the intersections, connections and tensions between the sacred and the secular from the ancient to the modern period. RCC provides students with an understanding of religious cultures and the interplay between the cultural and the political in social formations such as race, class, gender, capitalism and democracy.  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 & Societies (SMS)

The interaction of state organizations, economic forces and social dynamics is at the heart of the SMS field. Using a variety of qualitative and quantitative approaches, students focus on understanding change and lack of change in political, economic and social institutions spread globally and across areas and regions of the world.  Outcomes are analyzed as processes involving the interplay of a variety of social agents at the country, regional, transnational, international and global levels. The approach in the Jackson School steps beyond structural approaches, such as those favoring classes, to social struggles among a wide range of public and private actors attempting to shape outcomes within and across countries.  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). It also ties these issues into international and transnational phenomena, such as trade, investment, finance, multinational corporations and economic policy-making.

JSIS 598: Field Seminar in Peace, Violence & 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. Using a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches from across the social sciences, the field focuses on critical problems in world politics and across areas at a practical foreign policy level. Casting a wide net over both conventional and rising human security concerns, it illuminates the international interactions of countries at both the regional and global levels as they struggle to shape outcomes. It also focuses on the domestic underpinnings and implications of the foreign security relations of specific countries or sets of countries that bear upon contemporary patterns of transnational order and stability. 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 & Governance (LRG)

The multidisciplinary field of LRG focuses on unveiling the interactions among law, institutions, and policy in international, transnational and regional contexts. Using multiple methodologies, disciplinary theories and legal tools, it spans cutting edge scholarship in international and comparative law, international relations and area studies. The LRG field explores how state-society relations affect legal and institutional governance in the face of multi-faceted changes across borders. It also examines how public and private actors grapple with the challenges of instituting and maintaining governance worldwide and across various regions. Problem-driven analyses across the world are based on a careful understanding of the interplay of law and institutions with societies, histories, cultures, structures, religions, economic realities, political regimes and international interactions.  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.


The requirement for specialization courses can be met with existing graduate-level courses (course numbers of 500 or above) at JSIS or in other related departments at UW or with Independent Study courses at the 600 level.  These courses should help doctoral students deepen the foundational knowledge gained from the field seminars, and to also present an opportunity for them to situate it in specific areas of the world. As with the field seminars, Ph.D. students are advised to approach each course with a view to narrowing down and/or pinpointing their research interests for dissertation purposes, in consultation with their FAs. Language courses that are below the 500-level cannot be counted toward Ph.D. credits.


The Graduate School requires that students complete a minimum of 27 dissertation credits (800 level), spread across a period of at least three quarters. At least one of those quarters must come after the student passes the General Exam. Students are limited to a maximum of 10 dissertation credits per quarter, with the exception of the summer quarter. Students are eligible to register for JSIS 800 credits after they successfully complete their Preliminary Exam in winter quarter of their second year.


Subject to approval by the Ph.D. Committee, all incoming students are eligible to transfer up to 30 credits for previously earned graduate work, generally in a Master’s program. The process for waiving these credits is as follows: The GPA downloads the student’s M.A. transcript from their application file and distributes it to the Ph.D. Committee. The Ph.D. Committee then determines which courses are eligible for transfer. The GPA petitions the Graduate School to waive the credits, as determined by the Ph.D. Committee, and the Graduate School either approves or denies this petition. The GPA then notifies the student how many credits were waived.