Program Requirements

The Doctoral Program in Political Science is accredited both in the United States and Austria.

Whereas the specific degree completion requirements are slightly different, the degrees are inseparable. The only substantive difference between the two accreditation systems refers to the doctoral activities other than coursework that receive credits in the Austrian (ECTS), but not in the US system (US credits). 

You can read the specifics for each accreditation system below.

For current students enrolled before 2021, the US credits required are 24.

United States accreditation 


The overall minimum number of US credits that doctoral candidates must earn during the time they receive a stipend is 22. The minimum number of US credits Probationary Doctoral Candidates must earn in the first academic year is 16: the core modules and the research methods sequence. The mandatory credits include:

12 US credits selected from the curriculum of a student’s track

Out of these credits, 10 must belong to the core curriculum (Core Courses of the given track). The 2 additional US credits of the track are to be chosen from the category of courses labeled ‘Advanced Topics’. Exceptionally, the track representative may allow the student to take an Advanced Methods course for the respective 2 US credits.

6 US credits from the methods sequence

Given the importance of a sound methodological education, all Probationary Doctoral Candidates are required to take the ‘Research Design’ course (2 US credits), the ‘Prospectus Seminar’ course (2 US credits) and a methods course (2 US credits). 

4 US credits outside of the major track

The remaining 4 credits should come from courses of other tracks than the students’ first choice track or from methods courses. These credits may count toward a ‘minor’ track when another 4 credits are also taken from the offering of the same track (thus bringing the total number of credits earned by the student to 26).  PhD students can take MA courses in exceptional cases and in limited numbers, contingent on the permission of the School Director.

Austrian accreditation

The overall minimum number of credits that Probationary Doctoral Candidates must earn over the course of their first four academic years is 240 ECTS, awarded for coursework and doctoral activities like seminar and conference attendance, supervisory panel meetings, Teaching Assistantships, semester abroad, Global Teaching Fellowships, professionalization workshops, thesis writing, submission and defense. The minimum number of credits students must earn in their first academic year is 60 ECTS - the core modules, the methods sequence and doctoral research activities.

Comprehensive Examination

At the end of the probationary period doctoral candidates are required to take a Comprehensive Examination. The Comprehensive Examination comprises the oral exam and the prospectus submission, both parts are evaluated by the Comprehensive Exam Committee of the students’ track.

The oral examination tests the candidates' understanding of the core literature in their chosen (sub-) field. It is based on a list of scholarly references that is compiled by the student and is approved by the Exam Committee prior to the exam.

The submitted prospectus is the research proposal that will form the basis of the students' research, and later, their doctoral dissertation. The length of the prospectus should be between 7,000 and 9,000 words, excluding footnotes and bibliography.

Admission to the program as a probationary candidate is no guarantee that the student advances to doctoral candidate status. Probationary doctoral candidates have to earn a "B+" course grade average and a "B+" grade or higher on their comprehensive examination. 

Those students who complete the coursework with a "B+" or higher GPA and a "B+" or higher grade on their comprehensive examination, but cannot successfully defend their dissertation, are still eligible to receive an MPhil in Political Science degree from CEU.

Doctoral Dissertation

Within six years after their enrollment to the Doctoral Program, doctoral candidates are required to submit a doctoral dissertation. The CEU doctoral dissertation shall not exceed 80,000 words (including tables, graphs and footnotes; excluding bibliography) without prior permission of the Doctoral Committee.

To satisfy the degree requirements, the dissertation must make a significant and original contribution to the knowledge and understanding of the subject and must demonstrate the capacity of the candidate to carry out independent quality research. Doctoral candidates have to defend their dissertation in front of a Dissertation Committee, at a public defense.

Other Duties

During term time, doctoral students must reside in Vienna or the vicinity for the entire duration of the doctoral stipend. Students beyond their second year may reside in Budapest too. They are expected to remain in contact with campus academic life and respond to any communication from the program.

On successfully continuing to Doctoral Candidate status, students' responsibilities will be as follows:

a) ensuring that original data and any other original research results emanating from the doctoral dissertation project are stored properly and made available if necessary;

b) initiating discussions with their supervisor on the type of guidance and comments considered helpful, and agreeing to a schedule of meetings which will ensure regular contact;

c) providing a written report on their work as well as a schedule for completing their dissertation to their supervisor and the Doctoral Program Committee by the end of each academic year, starting from the second year. This report should document the progress of their work and any difficulties that may be hindering the student’s advancement in the program;

d) submitting at least one new or substantially revised chapter of the dissertation to the members of their Supervisory Panel in the Fall semester and during or after the Annual Doctoral Conference each year;

e) publicly presenting their research output on at least two occasions during their candidature. One of these occasions must be the Annual Doctoral Conference, typically scheduled in April;

f) preparing the dissertation for examination according to the schedule agreed upon with the supervisor;

g) gaining teaching experience.