Comparative politics focuses on the study of democratization, political economy, law, subnational politics, state-society relations and women in development, among other topics. POIR faculty have regional expertise in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, East Asia, Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Africa. Their publications include a large number of articles in top political science journals (Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, World Politics, International Organization, International Security, International Studies Quarterly), premier policy journals (Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Governance), and leading university presses (Cambridge, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Michigan, Oxford, Princeton, Stanford).

Core Faculty

Brett Carter
Allison Hartnett
Gerardo Munck
Tine Paulsen
Miguel Pereira
Alison Dundes Renteln (Field Director)
Stan Rosen
Eliz Sanasarian
Jefferey Sellers

  • Students concentrating in Comparative Politics are required to take two core seminars (POIR 640 and POIR 641) and two elective courses (from the list of courses provided by the field representative; only one elective can be cross-listed in the field of Comparative Politics and another field). Three of these four courses must be completed prior to taking the qualifying examination. To earn credit, a grade of B or better is needed on each course. A field examination is required except for students who take comparative politics as a third field. Proficiency in a language other than English is strongly recommended.

  • 2 Core Courses:
    POIR 640: Comparative Politics, Part I
    POIR 641: Comparative Politics, Part II
    *Both core courses must be completed prior to qualifying exams.
    2 Electives:
    Any 2 AP seminars
    *One elective must be completed prior to qualifying exams.
    *Only one elective can be cross-listed in the field of Comparative Politics and another field.

  • The list of courses that have been considered as comparative politics courses are:
    POIR 525: State and Society in International Politics
    POIR 526: Migration and Diaspora in International Politics
    POIR 534: East Asian Security Issues (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 535: Seminar in No. African & Middle Eastern Politics
    POIR 540: Religion and Conflict
    POIR 545: Critical Issues in Politics and Policy
    POIR 546: Seminar in Environmental Policy (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 548: International Political Economy of Development (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 551: International Political Economy of the Pacific Rim (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 555: Democracy and Democratization (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 556: Latin America and US Foreign Policy
    POIR 557: Africa and US Foreign Policy
    POIR 561: Japanese Foreign Policy and International Relations of East Asia (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 563: Chinese Foreign Policy (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 581: International Relations of the Middle East (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 599: Special Topics (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 625: Seminar in Party Politics
    POIR 626: Seminar in Executive & Legislative Processes
    POIR 630: Seminar in European Politics
    POIR 632: Seminar in Latin American Politics
    POIR 633: Seminar in East Asian Politics
    POIR 636: Seminar in African Politics
    POIR 637: Seminar in Chinese Politics (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 640: Comparative Politics (Required)
    POIR 641: Comparative Politics II (Required)

    POIR 642: Institutions in Comparative and International Politics (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 643: Seminar in Problems of Comparative Politics
    POIR 648: International Human Rights Law & Policy (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 649: Seminar in International Law (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 650: Comparative Politics of East and Southeast Asia (Offered Regularly)
    POIR 662: Governance in International Relations (Offered Regularly)

    In addition, courses in religion and conflict, democratization, and human rights, have been considered comparative courses.
    Any course that will be counted toward the Comparative Politics field requirement must focus predominantly on the comparative explanation of politics within countries. Faculty members are encouraged to request that courses they teach be included in the field. In order for a course to be included, the syllabus for the course must be approved by the field representative in consultation with the relevant faculty member. Faculty may appeal the decisions of the coordinators to the full Comparative Politics faculty.
    An annual meeting will be held to coordinate the offerings in comparative politics. The timing of this meeting would be just ahead of the time when the unit heads decide on the courses to be taught.

  • A recommended reading list for the field exam is maintained by the field representative and updated periodically, in consultation with faculty teaching in the field. As new areas of scholarship evolve, these will be included in the reading list. However, addition to the list should be balanced through the removal of some items.

  • The field representative will prepare the examination questions in consultation with the relevant faculty in the field. The exam is designed to test mastery of a broad coverage of research programs and areas within the field, along with overarching concepts, themes and approaches.

  • Students selecting Comparative Politics as their third non-examined field will take three courses in the field, including POIR 640 and POIR 641. The third elective courses cannot be cross-listed with another field.

  • Language training is strongly encouraged but not required. To ensure language competence, prospective students are encouraged to begin development of language skills for their area of specialization before entering the program. Faculty advisors may encourage individual students to acquire additional language or methodological skills for specific research programs.