Ph.D. in International Relations and Diplomacy
American Graduate School in Paris
Earliest start date
The Ph.D. in International Relations and Diplomacy at AGS allows students to specialize in a specific domain of knowledge while gaining the recognition that is instrumental to pursue advanced careers in academics, think tanks, international organizations, or government research.
A US-accredited Ph.D. in France
The Ph.D. in International Relations and Diplomacy at AGS combines the wide recognition of an American degree with the unique experience of a Paris-based program. It is accredited in the US as an affiliated program of Arcadia University (Pennsylvania) and taught at the American Graduate School in Paris, a private nonprofit institution of higher education recognized by the French Ministry of Higher Education.
Classes are taught in the heart of Paris. The French capital – which is also one of Europe’s capitals and an international hub – is an ideal location for doctoral research in international relations as it offers access to countless research libraries, archives and special collections. It also provides internship opportunities with government institutions, inter-govermental organizations and NGOs.
The language of instruction and for the writing of the dissertation is English; no knowledge of French is required to enroll.
The program consists of two years of graduate coursework and four years dedicated to the research and writing of the doctoral dissertation. Candidates have the ability to tailor the program around their interests and career objectives through elective courses as well as through the choice of their research topic. The highest academic standards are sought in the coursework as well as in the methodology, research, and writing of the dissertation. A unique aspect of the Ph.D. program at AGS is the very close guidance provided to students throughout the dissertation process.
The International Relations and Diplomacy curriculum has a multi-disciplinary scope. Required courses cover the disciplines of international relations, political science, economics, international law, international organizations, and diplomacy. The choice of electives is made in accordance with the domain in which the candidate wishes to pursue his or her research.
International Relations and Diplomacy Ph.D. candidates must successfully complete:
- Five required courses
- Seven elective courses, including two area courses
- Three Ph.D.-specific modules
Note: Up to two courses can be transferred from another university if they meet the standards of AGS, upon approval by the Academic Committee.
Required Courses and Modules
- IRD-R-580 : Factors and Theories of Analysis in International Relations and Diplomacy
- IRD-R-581 : Research Methodology and Design
- IRD-R-682 : Foreign Policy Formulation and Diplomacy
- IRD-R-583 : International Public Law
- IRD-R-684 : Current Economic Problems and Policies
- IRD-T-790 : Ph.D. Seminar
- IRD-T-791 : Ph.D. Individual Proposal Advising
- IRD-T-792 : Ph.D. Dissertation Advising and Tutorials
In order to be awarded the AGS's Ph.D. degree in International Relations and Diplomacy, students must meet the following requirements:
- Complete the curriculum requirements listed above with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
- Attain an A2 certification in French
- Have the ability to use primary sources in any other language(s) necessary for doctoral research in the area of the dissertation
- Pass a Qualifying Examination in International Relations methods and theories
- Pass a pre-dissertation Comprehensive Examination
- Write and successfully defend a doctoral dissertation of at least 75,000 words of research, analysis, and corroborating data
- Conform to academic, administrative, and financial requirements and rules of the school (as detailed in the handbook provided upon admission).
All requirements for the Ph.D. degree must be met within six years of admission to Ph.D. candidacy.
Stages of the program
Coursework (1.5 to 2 years)
Students will complete 13 courses over the three to four semesters they are completing their coursework:
- 5 Required Courses
- 7 Elective Courses
- Ph.D. Seminar
The two remaining modules are taken after the student has completed their Ph.D. examinations:
- Ph.D. Individual Proposal Advising
- Ph.D. Dissertation Advising and Tutorials
During the student’s coursework period they should be focused on their research topic. Choosing their classes such that they will complement the topic and talking with professors who are experts in the fields they need to do their future research.
While in the Ph.D. program, you have the opportunity to perform an internship in a Paris-based organization: diplomatic/consular mission, intergovernmental organization, NGO, multinational corporation news media outlet or another type of relevant international institution.
Internships are optional and can be pursued either for credit (then counting as an elective course in the curriculum) or not-for-credit. In all cases, you may benefit from AGS’s guidance and support for internship placement. (Note that in all cases, the student is ultimately responsible for finding his/her internship.)
Ph.D. Examinations: Qualifying and Comprehensive
Obtaining an overall GPA of 3.0 does not ensure that a student may continue in the Ph.D. program. It is only after succeeding in the qualifying and comprehensive examinations (written and oral) that a Ph.D. candidate is permitted to officially begin the research and writing of the dissertation.
- The qualifying examination requires the demonstration of competency in theoretical and methodological literature and issues in international relations.
- The Comprehensive Exams, which determine Ph.D. candidacy, are meant to test the candidate’s readiness for advanced research in the more specialized areas of international relations. They consist of two parts, a written exam and an oral exam, that are administered by a jury of three to five examiners.
The Qualifying and Comprehensive Exams are required to be taken after terminating coursework. No Ph.D. proposal may be submitted to the Academic Committee until this condition is satisfied.
Request to proceed (RTP) and Dissertation Advisor
At this stage, Ph.D. candidates must identify a dissertation advisor. The candidates may choose their doctoral advisor from the school's faculty or from a pool of accomplished international scholars working with AGS, according to the domain in which they wish to pursue their doctoral research. External advisors are also permitted upon approval of the Academic Committee.
Note: Ph.D. candidates are responsible for finding their own advisors. AGS assists them in this process by putting them in contact with potential advisors when needed.
Students will submit a request to proceed which must be signed by their advisor. This RTP will state the research question and describe the proposed research topic, the theories to be utilized, and the methodology.
Proposal and A.B.D.
Although students are strongly encouraged to start working on their research before this stage, it is only after successfully completing the Ph.D. examinations that they may have their dissertation proposal reviewed and approved by the Academic Committee.
This is a three-step process:
- Register for the Ph.D. Individual Proposal Advising module
- Approval of the proposal by the dissertation advisor
- Approval of the proposal by the Academic Committee
Students will work with their advisor to create a proposal which demonstrates that they have a firm grasp of the literature concerning their topic and that they have chosen an appropriate methodology and theory to examine their research question. There are very specific procedures for writing a proposal and students must adhere to AGS' specifications.
The proposal will be submitted to the academic committee for approval and the student will be asked in an oral interview to describe their research project. The proposal is discussed in a formal meeting with the advisor, the Academic Committee representatives and any other faculty members consulted by the scholar. Should the Academic Committee require changes to the proposal, it will be amended by the same process and re-submitted.
Once this proposal is approved the student will be a doctoral candidate and considered A.B.D. (all but dissertation). The student is now considered qualified for employment in academia and may apply for teaching positions.
More information on the proposal and the overall dissertation process are discussed during the Ph.D. Seminar.
Dissertation and Defense
Once a student’s proposal has been approved, they will need to register for the Ph.D. Dissertation Advising and Tutorials module. The Ph.D. candidate, under the supervision of his/her advisor, writes the dissertation. Once the advisor approves the dissertation for defense, the candidate and advisor must contact the Academic Coordinator to set the time and place of the defense.
The candidate will defend their dissertation before a jury of five professors or practitioners that are experts in the field. The defense is generally open to the public.
In the event that revisions are required by the defense jury, these revisions have to be completed and approved. A PDF file and two bound copies of the final version including approved revisions must be submitted to the Academic Coordinator.
The Ph.D. candidate will receive their diploma only after the correct final copies have been deposited with AGS, and all other criteria for graduation are met.
Combined M.A.-Ph.D. program
AGS offers a combined M.A.-Ph.D. program per the American model. After the completion of the M.A. requirements, students enrolled in this combined M.A.-Ph.D. program will only have to take an additional seven elective courses along with the Ph.D. seminar and tutorials. This additional Ph.D. coursework may be completed in one year.
Note that passage from the M.A. to the Ph.D. program is not automatic. It is subject to approval by the Academic Committee.
Graduates of AGS' M.A. program who wish to enroll in the Ph.D. program may also benefit from the transfer of the five required courses.