Applicants who get admitted to the Doctoral Program become Probationary Doctoral Candidates. The period between the date of their enrollment and the successful passing of the Comprehensive Examination is referred to as "probationary period". Probationary Doctoral Candidates become Doctoral Candidates after passing both parts of the Comprehensive Examination. PhD students have a maximum of six years to finish their dissertations, and can receive a stipend from CEU for three years of their studies.
The Doctoral Program in Political Science is structured around the following stages:
- Year 1: completion of the majority of the coursework, Comprehensive Examination
- Year 2-3: additional courses, funded research
- Year 4-6: research with individual funding, defense of the dissertation
During their first year, probationary candidates are expected to complete the majority of the coursework required to finish the program (18 credits out of the required 24). This entails that in the first academic year students need to attend courses almost every day. During this probationary period, students are supervised by temporary supervisors, who advise them about their study plans and about their work on their prospectus.
At the end of Year 1, after completing the Mandatory and Core courses, Probationary Candidates need to pass the Comprehensive Examination. This examination comprises the oral exam and the evaluation of a submitted prospectus (the research proposal that will form the basis of the students' research, and later, their doctoral dissertation).
While students usually complete most of the required courses in the first year, some courses are left for the second year (methods sequence, advanced topics, out-of-track courses), and PhD candidates are encouraged to take further courses in their second and third years. However, after successfully passing the Comprehensive Examination, PhD students need to dedicate the majority of their time to their individual research. Students receive a stipend until the end of their third year, and are required to reside at CEU main campus for the entire duration of the doctoral stipend (during term time).
During these years, PhD students conduct individual research with the support of their supervisors. Doctoral Candidates present their research to their Supervisory Panel twice in every academic year, by submitting at least one new or substantially revised chapter of the dissertation to the panel.
The stipend provided by CEU for its Doctoral Candidates runs out after three years (36 months), which means that from year 4 students need to find alternative funding sources (research grants, part-time jobs) to finish their dissertation. The stipend received from CEU during year 1-3 can also be postponed to these later years if the student can secure alternative funding during his or her initial years, thus extending his or her financial security already at the beginning of the program. Six months before the planned submission of the dissertation, PhD students can also apply for a CEU write-up grant.
CEU encourages its Doctoral Candidates to spend at least three months at another university during the research period for their candidacy. Doctoral Candidates are eligible for financial support to conduct off-campus research related to the topic of their dissertation in conformity with the general rules of research support as regulated by the university. Reporting to the Supervisory Committee twice per year remains compulsory for PhD students in year 4-6.
The doctoral dissertation must be submitted for evaluation and public defense no later than six years after the doctoral student’s enrollment to the Doctoral Program. Extension to this six-year deadline can be requested only in exceptional circumstances.