The POIR Program features a distinguished faculty in the field of American politics, whose work covers a broad range of topics in the study of political behavior, political institutions, and other topics. Faculty research specialties include congressional and legislative politics; electoral behavior; judicial politics; political communication; political institutions; political psychology; public law and courts; public opinion; race, ethnicity and politics; rationality and politics; and voting behavior.
The graduate course work in American politics includes two core courses (POIR 620 and POIR 621) that provide an overview of the field and its theoretical and empirical debates, as well as electives on such topics as attitudes and behavior; courts and judicial politics; legislative and executive politics; public law; race and ethnicity in U.S. politics; voting behavior; and other topics.
The American politics faculty have published in the top peer-reviewed journals in the discipline, such as the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, and Perspectives on Politics. The American politics faculty have also published in the most prestigious academic presses, including Cambridge University Press, Duke University Press, Georgetown University Press, Harvard University Press, New York University Press, Oxford University Press, the University of Chicago Press, Stanford University Press, and Yale University Press. In recognition of their contributions to the field, they have won numerous prizes from the American Political Science Association, including the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award for the best book in political science; the Pritchett Award for best book in public law; the Swanson Prize for contributions in the field of political communication; the Race and Ethnicity’s Section’s award for best first book; the best book on race, representation, and politics; and the Goodnow Award for lifetime achievement.
The intellectual hallmark of faculty in the American field is investigating political phenomena at the intersection of political institutions and ordinary people. Neither strictly behavioral nor institutionalist, the faculty address research questions that cross the traditional subfields of American politics and political science. While diverse in substance and approach, the research is informed and enriched by broad concerns within democratic theory. In terms of methodology, no single approach predominates and scholars in the American field use experimental methods, in-depth field interviews, observational data, qualitative methods, quantitative methods, and survey research methods. Given the nature of their work and their substantive interests, the faculty seek creative and intellectually diverse students. The faculty help students develop analytic tools needed to produce rigorous scholarship.
Morris Levy (Field Director)
Students who select AP as their examined field are required to complete four courses in the field, of which three must be completed prior to taking the qualifying examination. All students must take a core sequence that consists of POIR 620 and 621, which are designed to reflect the faculty’s commitment to rigorous and thorough training of its students and to place their interests within the broader context of theoretical questions and recurring empirical puzzles in American politics.
Students must also minimally take two other courses in the field consisting of either (a) a graduate seminar in the field of American politics or (b) a directed research seminar developed in consultation with the student’s advisor and approved under the Program’s rules. It should be stressed that these are the minimum requirements needed for students to take the qualifying examination. Students are strongly encouraged to take further courses in American politics, work with faculty to generate reading lists in their areas of interest and develop a research design or substantive paper that can be presented to the core faculty in American Politics prior to their fifth semester.
Students are strongly encouraged to develop the relevant methodological skills needed to read the literature critically, prepare for the qualifying examination, and conduct original research in the field. Students should consider taking the core methods sequence prior to the field exam.
2 Core Courses:
POIR 620: American Politics and Policy Processes
POIR 621: American Politics Field Seminar Part II
*Both core courses must be completed prior to qualifying exams.
Any 2 AP seminars
* One elective must be completed prior to qualifying exams.
Every student in American politics will be required to take a core sequence that consists of two seminars. The first seminar (POIR 620) will provide students an overview of key substantive areas of American politics, such as voting behavior, public opinion, Congress, the Presidency, the courts, the bureaucracy, political parties, interest groups, the media and mass movements. The primary goal of this course is to introduce the students to classic works in the field, situate the classics relative to important contemporary works, and provide an overview of approaches to the study of American politics.
The second seminar (POIR 621) builds upon the first semester by presenting students with various theoretical approaches to the study of American politics, such as rational choice, political psychology, behavioralism, and new institutionalism. It will then look at enduring problems and questions in American politics, such as representation, collective action, delegation, coordination problems, moral hazard, and institutional stability and change.
The list of courses that have been considered as American politics courses are:
POIR 620: American Politics and Policy Processes (Required)
POIR 621: American Politics Field Seminar Part II (Required)
POIR 540: Law and Public Policy (Offered Regularly)
POIR 545: Critical Issues in Politics and Policy
POIR 546: Seminar in Environmental Policy (Offered Regularly)
POIR 618: Seminar in Problems of American Politics (Offered Regularly)
POIR 619: Seminar in Supreme Court Politics
POIR 622: Seminar in Political Attitudes and Behavior (Offered Regularly)
POIR 623: Seminar in Public Law
POIR 624: Seminar in American Constitutional Law and Theory (Offered Regularly)
POIR 625: Seminar in Party Politics
POIR 626: Seminar in Executive and Legislative Processes (Offered Regularly)
POIR 627: Seminar in Urban Politics
The faculty will maintain a reading list to help students prepare for the qualifying exam. The field representative has the responsibility of maintaining and regularly updating the reading list in consultation with the field faculty.
The field representative will prepare the examination questions in consultation with the relevant faculty in the field.
Students selecting American Politics as their third non-examined field will take three courses in the field, including POIR 620 and POIR 621.
There is no language requirement in the American politics field. If necessary for their research interests, students are encouraged to develop language expertise but it is not required. If American Politics is not the student’s primary field and language is required in the student’s primary examination field, the student must satisfy the relevant language requirement in the primary field before taking the qualifying examinations.