QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS: On-ground, graduate-level

This course is designed to familiarize students in the Public Administration Doctoral Program (DPA) with qualitative research methods towards developing research projects and dissertation proposals. It is designed to expand and deepen their theoretical and practical knowledge of qualitative research strategies and tools, and learn about the ways in which qualitative strategies can complement quantitative analysis.

The course starts with the basics: we first discuss the epistemological debates surrounding quantitative and qualitative research methods and overview key components of research design in social sciences. In the second part of the course, we survey a variety of qualitative methodologies including single and comparative case studies, ethnography, process tracing, interviewing, content and discourse analysis, and field experiments—we discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and identify possibilities for multi-method research designs.

CLOSING SEMINAR (CAPSTONE): On-ground and online

This course bookends the Political Science major, in which students develop original research papers on their chosen topics.

In the first part of the course, students learn how to develop a research project by surveying a range of topics in Political Science. We begin with a discussion of ‘research puzzles and discuss how to develop good research questions. Next, we learn how to survey the literature and write a literature review. We then discuss theories and hypotheses, and learn how to identify variables. We also revisit qualitative and quantitative approaches to develop strong research designs. Finally, we survey some of the recent contributions in Political Science research: we dissect them to observe how the authors develop their literature reviews, theoretical expectations, and research designs. These exercises will help students design and execute their own projects with confidence.

In the second part of the course we have student presentations. Students present their research projects while the rest of the class provides written peer-reviews, later discussing their feedback and questions in an open forum.