Political Science

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PhD Political Science (International Relations)

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PhD Political Science (International Relations)

McMaster has nine full time faculty members who specialize in teaching and conducting research in international relations. Our PhD International Relations program’s strengths are in the fields of:


  • Canadian Foreign Policy
  • Critical International Relations Theory
  • Critical Security Studies
  • Global Governance
  • Global Political Economy
  • Politics of the Global South

About the Program

McMaster’s PhD is one of the strongest critical international relations programs in the country. Critical IR approaches reveal the unequal power relations of world order and seek to challenge those conditions. We draw on a wide variety of theoretical traditions including constructivist, ecological, feminist, historical materialist, post-colonial and post-structural approaches.


Faculty members have overlapping interests in alternative diplomacies, citizenship studies and transnational social movements, climate change, international political economy, international relations theory, global governance, post-colonialism and politics of the global south. PhD students are encouraged to take advantage of the activities of the Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition, as well as our annual student focused Mapping the Global Dimensions of Policy conference.


Research Opportunities
Several faculty members in the department have funded research programs that provide potential opportunities for collaboration or research assistant positions for PhD students enrolled in political science. Potential PhD students with research interests or preparation that align with one of the projects below should contact the relevant faculty member(s) as they prepare their applications for admission to the PhD program.

Faculty Specializing in International Relations:

Nathan Andrews: Political Economy of Resource Extraction, Social/Development Policy, Global Governance, International Relations Theory & Critical Pedagogy


Marshall Beier: Critical Approaches to Security, Militarization of Childhood, Indigeneity & International Relations, International Relations Theory


Thomas Marois: Neoliberalism & Development, Public Banking, Political Economy


Stephen McBride: North American Political Economy, Trade & Investment Governance, Austerity


Peter Nyers: Critical Security Studies, Citizenship, Borders, Refugees, Undocumented Migration


Robert O’Brien: Global Political Economy, Labour Internationalism, Global Civil Society, Climate Change, Global Governance


Tony Porter: Global Governance & Standard Setting, International Finance


Alina Sajed: Post-colonial International Relations, Political Violence & Revolution, Global South


Lana Wylie: Canadian & US Foreign Policy, Alternative Diplomacy, Cuba


In addition, several other faculty members have an interest in International Relations:

Michelle Dion: Comparative Politics, Gender & Politics, Globalization, Public Policy, Social & Health Policy


Catherine Frost: Communications, Globalization, Nationalism, Political Theory, Politics & History, Politics of Representation


Ahmed Shafiqul Huque: Public Policy & Public Administration in the Global South


James Ingram: Critical International Relations, Globalization, Political Theory, Post-colonial Theory


Inder Marwah: Critical International Relations, Globalization, Political Theory, Politics of Representation


Netina Tan: Sources of Authoritarian Resilience, Political Representation of Women & Ethnic Minorities in Asia & Globally

The International Relations doctoral program is designed to equip graduates to conduct research and teach at the university level in International Relations and one other field chosen from Canadian politics, comparative politics, public policy, or political theory.


Students take six courses, including three required ones. They then prepare comprehensive examinations in their two major fields, which they write in August of their first year and December of their second year. Students also fulfill a language requirement to demonstrate their competency in a language other than English which is relevant to their research. This is normally done before the approval of the thesis proposal.


The remainder of the program involves preparing a thesis proposal, and then completing and defending the dissertation.


A thesis proposal will normally be submitted in April of the student’s second year. The thesis should normally be no more than 60,000 words long, and it is expected that the thesis will be finished about two years after the proposal is approved. Overall, then, full-time students are expected to take about four years to complete the program. Part-time students may take up to eight years to complete the degree but are encouraged to finish in less time.

Admission to the PhD program will normally require a Master’s degree in political science with an average of at least an A– (A minus).


Applicants are encouraged to contact faculty members in the Department of Political Science regarding potential supervision.


Required Application Documents: 

Graduate Studies Online Application


Applicants are required to complete the Graduate Studies Online Application which opens October 1st each year. In addition to the online application, applicants must also submit the required documents listed below. Some required documents must be submitted through the online application.


Statement of Interest 

  • An electronic statement of interest (approximately 500 words, single or double-spaced, maximum of 1 page).
  • The statement must be uploaded as a PDF attachment only through the online application system on the Upload Document
  • Your statement of interest is a crucial element of the application process. Comparative Public Policy applicants should highlight the comparative nature of their research and policy area which concerns them. International Relations applicants should identify the international, transnational or global elements of their research projects.
  • All applicants would benefit from indicating particular faculty members or research clusters that overlap with their projects.

CV/Personal Resume 

  • An electronic copy of your CV/Resume must be uploaded as a PDF attachment through the online application system on the Upload Document  

Official Academic Transcripts 

  • Upload a scan of ALL official university transcripts completed to date to the application system. Remember to include a copy of the transcript key/legend or scale from the transcript. 
  • Transcripts from institutions where you completed courses on Letter of Permission and/or as part of a Student Exchange Program must also be included.If your institution produces electronic transcripts that can be sent directly to other institutions select this option. The issuing institution must send the official transcript directly to Manuela Dozzi by email at dozzim@mcmaster.ca 
  • If the official language of instruction at your institution is not English, please include both the original language document and a certified English translation. 
  • DO NOT submit an unofficial transcript or a student record print unless the document shows your full name, student number, the university name and contains all courses completed (and in progress) with grades. 
  • If you receive an offer of admission further instructions will be given on how to submit formal official transcripts. 

Academic Reference 

Three (3) confidential reference reports from instructors most familiar with your academic work. 

  • All referees are required to complete the e-Reference. 
  • McMaster University uses an Electronic Referencing System (e-Reference). You will be required to indicate an institutional email address for each referee. Your referees will receive an email message asking them to complete an e-Reference. 
  • If you need to change your reference or referee email address after submitting your application, you will need to contact the Department. 
  • IMPORTANT: The system will send the e-Reference request to your references ONLY AFTER YOU SUBMIT your online application. This means that you will need to have completed AND uploaded your Statement of Interest and CV/Resume to your online application BEFORE you can click the “submit” button. References may require 2-4 weeks to complete the e-Reference reports. Referees MUST complete their reference report BY THE APPLICATION DEADLINE of January 14th. Please keep this in mind when you are working on your application. 
  • If for some reason your referee is unable to use the Electronic Referencing System, you can download the Reference Form and send it to your referees for completion. Downloaded reference forms must be sent by the referee DIRECTLY to Manuela Dozzi by e-mail (dozzim@mcmaster.ca) or the mailing address below.  

English Language Proficiency (if applicable) 

  • If English is not your native language, an official copy of your English Language Proficiency score or other evidence of competency in English is required. Such applicants are required to supply this evidence as part of your application. Applicants whose university studies were complete at an institution where English is deemed the official language of instruction may be exempted from this requirement (an official letter from the institution is required). 
  • The English Proficiency exam must have been completed within 2 years of the application due date. 
  • This requirement must be met prior to an offer of admission. There will be no exceptions to the language requirement. 
  • The most common evidence is a score on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). 

– TOEFL: minimum score is 92 (iBT-internet based), 237 (computer based) or 580 (paper based). The McMaster University TOEFL/TSE Institution Code is 0936 and the Department Code for Political Science is 89. 

– IELTS (Academic): minimum overall score is 6.5, with at least 5.5 in each section. 

  • NOTE: International students wishing to enter Canada on a study permit should also contact the nearest Canadian Embassy or Consulate for further information.


Application Fee 

The system will charge a $110 (Canadian) application fee. This fee is non-refundable and payable by credit card only. Once you have paid the application fee, please remember to return to the online application and click the “Submit” button. The application fee will not be refunded. 


How to Apply: 

Each applicant is required to complete the Graduate Studies Online Application which opens October 1st each year and submit the required application documents listed above to complete the application. 

Please note that all application supporting documentation must be forwarded to and received by our Department no later than January 14th for September admission only. 




If required, send all official documents (hard copy) to: 

Department of Political Science 

c/o Manuela Dozzi 

Kenneth Taylor Hall 527 (KTH-527) 

McMaster University 

1280 Main Street West 

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 

L8S 4M4  


Application Deadline: 

January 14, 2024 (for September 2024 admission) 

The Ellen Louks Fairclough Scholarship in Political Science

The Ellen Louks Fairclough Memorial Scholarship in Political Science was established in 2004 to commemorate the life of The Right Honourable Ellen Louks Fairclough, P.C., C.C., F.CA., L.L.D., F.R.C.G.S., D.H., U.E., Canada’s first female federal cabinet minister and lifelong advocate for women’s rights. To be awarded to a student enrolled in a graduate program in Political Science who holds an Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Preference will be given to a student with an interest in Canadian public policy.


The Political Science Travel Grant

To support research and professional development by assisting graduate students with costs related to doing field-work or attending academic conferences. This grant is open to both MA (thesis option) and PhD students. There are two rounds of applications each year with the deadlines being October 15th and January 30th.


The William Coleman Fund

The William Coleman Fund was established in 2011 by Dr. William Coleman. To support Ph.D. students in the Department of Political Science who are conducting field research.


To see additional information regarding awards and funding, please visit the Awards & Funding page.

International Relations Faculty 


The Department has many faculty specializing in International Relations. Their names and research interests are: 

Marshall Beier – Critical approaches to security, militarization of childhood, Indigeneity and IR, IR Theory 

Stephen McBride – North American Political Economy, Trade and Investment Governance 

Peter Nyers – Critical Security Studies, Citizenship, Borders, Refugees, Undocumented Migration 

Robert O’Brien – Global Political Economy, labour internationalism, global civil society, climate change, global governance 

Tony Porter – Global governance and standard setting, international finance 

Alina Sajed – Post-colonial IR, political violence and revolution, global south 

Lana Wylie – Canadian and US foreign Policy, alternative diplomacy, Cuba 


In addition several other faculty have an interest in international relations: 

Michelle Dion – Comparative politics, gender and politics, globalization, public policy, social and health policy 

Catherine Frost – Communications, globalization, nationalism, political theory, politics and history, politics of representation 

Ahmed Shafiqul Huque – Climate, water and sustainability, policy, public policy 

James Ingram – Critical IR, globalization, political theory, post-colonial theory 

Inder Marwah – Critical IR, globalization, political theory, politics of representation 

Apply to a PhD Program in Political Science (International Relations)

Political Science Courses

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Upcoming Events

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Research in Progress: Graduate Student Panel


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December 05, 2023
11:30 am to 1:00 pm
RIPs: Graduate Student Panel
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Mapping the Global Dimensions of Policy Conference 13: Globalization and Public Policy


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March 08, 2024