Binghamton University: Excel in academia and beyond with a PhD in Political Science
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Binghamton University: Excel in academia and beyond with a PhD in Political Science

Incisive, rigorously trained political scientists have changed the world. Consider the impact of Elinor Ostrom, whose research on economic governance earned her a Nobel Prize and reshaped the management of common-pool resources worldwide. Similarly, Joseph Nye’s work on soft power has transformed how nations engage in diplomacy. What these individuals have in common is a PhD in Political Science — a qualification reserved for those who want to influence public policy, educate future leaders, and deepen future generations’ understanding of the dynamics of power.

Binghamton University’s Political Science Department, ranked 19th in the world, is home to a PhD programme that can unlock all three outcomes and more. It owes its effectiveness to its breadth of focus.

The curriculum emphasises a comprehensive theoretical understanding of political behaviour and institutions, paired with the skills necessary for systematic empirical analysis. Candidates choose primary and secondary fields from American politics, comparative politics, or international relations, but receive robust training in all three. This training, combined with the programme’s strong quantitative focus, ensures graduates are well-equipped to conduct sophisticated political analysis.

This dual focus aligns well with Gregory Robinson’s research and teaching interests. As an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science, he plays a key role in nurturing the intellectual development of undergraduate and graduate students. While he specialises in American politics, Robinson’s research spans comparative politics and international relations as well.

“Our department and graduate programme emphasises a breadth of knowledge across the social sciences,” he shares. “So, in addition to research on political parties in the US Congress, I have published research on international trade and conflict, human rights, migration, and political geography, much of it in collaboration with faculty and graduate student colleagues.”

PhD students at Binghamton work closely with faculty members to select their specialisations. Source: Binghamton University

Indeed, the programme’s small size allows for extensive interaction and collaboration between students and experienced scholars. These are experts in a wide range of research areas, including international relations and foreign policy, human rights, political parties, and campaign finance.

“My research interests were fully developed early on at Binghamton, thanks to a wonderful class I took with Professor Katja B. Kleinberg on International Political Economy,” says graduate Roya Izadi. “So, my class paper became my comprehensive exam paper, a prospectus, and finally, my dissertation. The paper was published in a reputable journal in my last year as a PhD candidate and had a crucial impact on my job application to the University of Rhode Island.”

Izadi landed the role she was after, much like graduates before her. Binghamton graduates can currently be found adding value at prestigious institutions like McGill University, University of Georgia, Kansas State University, University of Florida, University of Mississippi, Old Dominion University, University at Buffalo (SUNY), Oklahoma University, and the University of North Texas.

Seminars and lectures are never short of rich views and illuminating debates. Source: Binghamton University

Many of these graduates owe their success to Binghamton’s stimulating environment.  “A lot of social science research can be rather esoteric, but one of the things that make our department stand out is our commitment to doing research that matters,” shares Robinson. “Whether it’s research on war and peace, human rights, protest, or voting rights and gerrymandering, faculty and graduate students are producing research on things that affect people’s day-to-day lives around the world.”

For example, the Centre on Democratic Performance (CDP, directed by Professor Michael D. McDonald), conducts extensive research, country assessments, and workshops on critical issues like democratic satisfaction, cooperation, and conflict. One of its flagship projects is the Election Results Archive, a comprehensive database documenting elections in over 130 countries from 1974 to 2002.

In 2022, Binghamton University co-pioneered CIRIGHTS, the world’s largest quantitative dataset on global human rights. It includes scores derived from reports by organisations such as the US Department of State and Amnesty International. This initiative expands on the previous Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Data Project, incorporating data from 1981 to 2011 and adding new dimensions. The project, funded by various organisations, aims to answer acute questions about human rights trends and the effectiveness of policy interventions.

Fall transforms the number-one ranked public university in New York into one of the state’s prettiest too. Source: Binghamton University

All studies are conducted from Binghamton University’s expansive campus, which geographically offers students the best of both worlds: proximity to major East Coast cities like New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia, coupled with the low cost of living in Upstate New York. “I wish I had gone to graduate school in a place with such a reasonable cost of living,” says Robinson. “It’s one of the factors that has led to me staying here for 17 years and counting!”

So if you’re ready to address the pressing political challenges of our time without the financial pressures of more expensive urban areas, learn more about applying to Binghamton University’s Political Science Department today.

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