Placement & Professionalization


First, and foremost, we want our PhDs to be well prepared for successful academic careers at major research universities. This is reflected in the strong research focus of the required curriculum and in the high level of professional mentoring we provide through research collaboration, teaching activities, and professionalization seminars. It is also evidenced in our to ability to successfully place program graduates in tenure-track positions at doctoral institutions. Tangible evidence of our success is manifested by the placement of our PhDs in tenure-track positions at excellent institutions, such as the University of Kentucky, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Georgia, University of Connecticut, University of Louisville, and University of Mississippi.

Although the primary focus of the MSU Department of Political Science is on academic research, we do recognize that many students are also interested in employment at teaching institutions, in governmental offices, and in other, more applied settings. Our doctoral program has plenty of flexibility to meet the needs of this important student constituency and program graduates have successfully obtained positions at liberal arts colleges, regional universities, and in state and federal government. Interest in these alternative career paths varies across subfields, but the job placement rates for our PhD graduates in these settings are excellent.

To see a comprehensive list of our PhD Alumni, see


The department offers a variety of opportunities for graduate student professionalization. Preparing students for conferences, teaching, and the job market is a top priority, and while much of this takes place within the classroom, much more is offered in informal settings throughout the graduate student’s career at MSU.

The department organizes frequent professionalization seminars and workshops on Friday afternoons, typically once a month during the academic year. These Friday luncheons are where students and faculty discuss some of the most important norms and standards in the discipline, and these typically coincide with upcoming conference deadlines, job talks, or other professional events. Some recent examples include:

  • Preparing for the Academic Job Market: A Timeline (in Reverse) – Josh Sapotichne
  • 10+1 Tips for Professional Conference and Job Talks – Eric Gonzalez Juenke

On alternate Fridays during the academic year, students are given the opportunity to see research presentations by department faculty, as well as talks given by faculty visiting from other universities. Some recent and upcoming examples include:

  • “Opening the Partisan Mind? Self-affirmation and factual misperceptions about politics.” – Brendan Nyhan, Dartmouth College
  • “Forum Shopping for the Best Adjudicator: Conflict Management and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).” – Sarah Mitchell, University of Iowa
  • “The Social Contagion Model: Exploring the Role of Public Opinion on the Diffusion of Anti-Smoking Legislation across the American States.” – Julia Pacheco, Robert Wood Johnson Scholar, University of Michigan
  • “Is There a Culture War? Heterogeneous Value Choices and American Public Opinion.” – Bill Jacoby, Michigan State University

The department also organizes and supports practice conference and job talks prepared by graduate students. In the spring, students who are presenting at the Midwest or other conferences are provided a large faculty and graduate student audience to practice their presentations, get feedback, and respond to comments in a lively and informal setting.

The department is committed to providing the most up-to-date and relevant resources for our graduate students throughout their time in the program.