Political Philosophy

Academic Year 2023 – 2024

General Information

Laura Wooten Hall, room 310

Program Offerings:

  • Interdepartmental Program

Department for program:

Director of Graduate Studies:

Graduate Program Administrator:


The Program in Political Philosophy is available to students with interests in one or more of three areas: (1) the history of political ideas, (2) the investigation of contemporary problems of political philosophy, and (3) the study of the relations between institutional and social history and systems of political thought. The program enables doctoral candidates in the affiliated departments to supplement their disciplinary training with specialized work in one of the other affiliated departments. The doctoral dissertation is written on a problem in political philosophy in one of the three areas.

Students join the program after first entering the Ph.D. program of one of the affiliated departments. Entry into and progress through the program is guided by the department’s director of graduate studies (or other departmental adviser) and by the director of the program.

Program Offerings

Program Offering: Interdepartmental Program


Students enrolled in the program are expected to concentrate within their departments, so far as departmental requirements permit, on studies relevant to it. They do their extra-departmental work in one or several of the affiliated departments. Students should check with their home department about whether the department has specific coursework requirements for students enrolled in the program.

General exam

The general examination is set by the individual departments after consultation with the director of the program. Whenever suitable, members of affiliated departments will be invited to participate in setting and grading the exam. The departmental requirements (which are subject to revision) are as follows:

  • Classics students enrolled in the program are required to take a special field exam in political philosophy.
  • History students enrolled in the program devote special attention to the history of political philosophy within the area and the chronological limits of their major field, and are examined on this special interest during the general examination.
  • Philosophy students enrolled in the program are expected to show knowledge of the major political philosophers of the western tradition and to have given special attention to contemporary discussions of the problems of political philosophy (for example, the definition of law and the concepts of justice, freedom, and democracy). The departmental requirements are adjusted to their special needs. The general examination is in the field of political or social philosophy.
  • Politics students enrolled in the program include, among the three fields on their general examination, a field in political philosophy (in addition to the regular departmental field in political theory). Coursework for the field in political philosophy must be taken outside the Department of Politics within one or more of the other departments participating in the program.
  • Religion students enrolled in the program, concentrating in the field of “Religion, Ethics, and Politics,” include among the four parts of their general examination one essay on a topic in political philosophy, written under the supervision of an appropriate member from the classics, history, philosophy, or politics departments.

Additional requirements

The interdepartmental committee sponsors a colloquium for all members and associates of the program.  All graduate students participating in the interdepartmental program are encouraged to participate in colloquium seminars and lectures.


  • Director

    • Jan-Werner Müller
  • Executive Committee

    • Edward G. Baring, History
    • Charles R. Beitz, Politics
    • David A. Bell, History
    • Michael A. Flower, Classics
    • Daniel Garber, Philosophy
    • Eric S. Gregory, Religion
    • Elizabeth Harman, Philosophy
    • Melissa Lane, Politics
    • Stephen J. Macedo, Politics
    • Jan-Werner Müller, Politics
    • Alan W. Patten, Politics
    • Michael Smith, Philosophy
    • Anna B. Stilz, Politics
  • Associated Faculty

    • Paul E. Starr, Sociology

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.