Skip to main content
McMaster University Menu Search

Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science (Comparative Public Policy)

McMaster is the only university in Canada, and one of very few universities worldwide, to offer a PhD in Comparative Public Policy. In order to more robustly examine and explain policy dynamics and change, students are trained in the comparative method and required to examine a policy issue in at least two political jurisdictions. These jurisdictions may be states, but they could also be at the subnational or international level.

Ph.D.Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science (Comparative Public Policy)

McMaster is the only university in Canada, and one of very few universities worldwide, to offer a PhD in Comparative Public Policy. In order to more robustly examine and explain policy dynamics and change, students are trained in the comparative method and required to examine a policy issue in at least two political jurisdictions. These jurisdictions may be states, but they could also be at the subnational or international level.

Public policy gets to the heart of the question of “who gets what” and of “who benefits.”  It can be about the big picture of how power works in societies, or it can involve finding the “devil in the details” of complex policy processes and outcomes.

Our faculty has capacity to supervise students doing mainstream policy studies, as well as projects in a number of critical approaches to policy. 

We prepare students in the fields of theories and approaches to comparative public policy, public administration, and internationalization of public policy. We value the opportunity to combine comparative public policy with courses in related fields such as comparative politics, globalization and the internationalization of public policy.

The program prepares graduates for working in Canadian and overseas universities, international organizations, and federal, provincial and local public services. Our graduates have taken up position at a number of Canadian universities and in federal and provincial public services.

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.



The Comparative Public Policy doctoral program is designed to equip graduates to conduct research and teach at the university level in Comparative Public Policy and one other field chosen from Canadian politics, comparative politics, political theory, or international relations.

Students take six courses, including three required ones. They then prepare comprehensive examinations in their two major fields, which they write in September and December of their second year. Students also prepare a major paper for December.

The remainder of the program involves preparing a thesis proposal, and then completing and defending the dissertation, which must involve a comparison of two political systems, including those at the international and subnational levels.

A thesis proposal will normally be submitted in April of the student's second year. The thesis should normally be no more than 100,000 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 seven years to complete the degree but are encouraged to finish in less time.

Admission Requirements:

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 November 15th 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 2 pages).
  • 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.

C.V. / 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

  • Academic transcripts from ALL post-secondary studies completed or in progress at the time of application.
  • Transcripts from institutions where you completed courses on Letter of Permission and/or as part of a Student Exchange Program must also be included.
  • All transcripts must be sent DIRECTLY from the issuing institution to the Department of Political Science (address below).
  • Transcripts not received in institutionally sealed envelopes will NOT be accepted.

Academic References

  • 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 FEBRUARY 1st. 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 ( 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: Foreign students wishing to enter Canada on a student visa should also contact the nearest Canadian Embassy or Consulate for visa 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 waived.


How to Apply:

Each applicant is required to complete the Graduate Studies Online Application which opens November 15th 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 February 1st of the year in which you are applying. 


Please send all (hard copy) supporting documents 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:

  • February 1

Public Policy Faculty

Katherine Boothe - Comparative Public Policy, OECD, Health Policy

Michelle Dion - Social Policy in Latin America

Dustin Garrick – Water Governance, Environmental Policy

Henry Jacek - Canadian Public Policy, Economic Policy

Ahmed Shafiqul Huque - Public Policy and Administration in Developing Countries, Public Service Reform and Change, Development and Transformation

Peter Graefe - Social Policy, Economic Policy, Canadian Intergovernmental Relations

Stephen McBride - Employment Policy, Environment Policy, State restructuring, Trade and Investment

Charlotte Yates - Labour Market and Employment Policy, Social Policy; Canada, Australia, and Great Britain

In addition several other faculty members have an interest in public policy:

Marshall Beier - Canadian Foreign Policy

Karen Bird - Multicultural Policy, Gender Policy

Peter Nyers - Refugee Policy

Robert O'Brien - Global Social Policy, Global Labour Policy

Tony Porter - Global Regulatory, Industry and Financial Policies

Netina Tan - Elections, Political Parties, Gender and Public Policies in East and Southeast Asia

Lana WylieCanadian Foreign Policy

In addition, two associate members of our department specialize in comparative public policy:

Julia Abelson - Health Policy, Canada, Canadian Provinces and Regions

John Lavis - Health Policy

  • 606 Canadian Public Policy
  • 701 Theory & Practice of Policy Analysis
  • 702 Social Policy Transformations
  • 705 Global Public Policy
  • 748 Democracy and Diversity
  • 782 Development Theory & Administration
  • 783 Comparative Public Policy
  • 785 Public Sector Management
  • 786 Organizational Theory and the Public Sector
  • 788 Comparative Foreign Policy
  • 794 Public Policy & Administration Research Seminar
  • 795 Research Project in Public Policy
  • 796 Research Design and Methods
  • 797 Readings in Comparative Public Policy
School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Graduate Students Association (GSA) International Student Services (ISS) Graduate Student FAQ's PhD in Political Science Regulations Apply Now
For more information:
Department of Political Science
KTH 527
905-525-9140 ext. 24742
4 years
Required Credential:
Graduate Degree
Program Type:
Thesis, Course Based
Program Options:
Full-time, Part-time
Typical Entry: