The PhD program requires 39 credit hours of approved graduate coursework, plus the successful defense of a dissertation. The first year is devoted to core courses and methods training. In the second year, students complete one of the concentrations offered by SIS, or construct one of their own.
Students must also successfully complete two comprehensive exams - a qualifying exam at the end of their first year and a concentration comp at the end of the second year. Students are also asked to demonstrate competency in a modern foreign language.
The dissertation must advance knowledge in the field of international relations, broadly defined. Students select and design their own research project in consultation with a committee of at least three experts in their chosen field of study. Students advance to candidacy upon the successful defense of a dissertation prospectus, usually in their third year. A public defense of the dissertation is required for graduation.