Comparative Historical Social Science (CHSS)
Course and Academic Requirements
All CHSS students are Ph.D. candidates in either political science or sociology. CHSS students complete all of the standard requirements of their chosen department. On top of that, they use five elective courses to complete the requirements for this program. These courses enable students to develop competencies in theoretical approaches to social change and continuity, especially with reference to politics; in comparative and historical methods; and in the substantive analysis of particular cases.
To receive certification, students must complete five CHSS courses in addition to their core departmental requirements. At least one of these five courses must come from each of the following three areas.
Interdisciplinary, substantive expertise
Students develop expertise on substantive topics relevant to their research interests (either about specific areas of the world or specific arenas of political and social life), in consultation with their advisors. At least one course must be taken from outside the student’s home department (including in history, anthropology, and other departments beyond sociology and political science). These courses are intended to ensure that CHSS students develop substantive interdisciplinary expertise in their area of research.
Students will develop an understanding of the theories and analytic tools of both sociology and political science, and will take at least one course in this area outside of their home department. Courses may be focused on temporal analysis, historical sociology, theories of comparative politics, historical-institutional analysis, contemporary social theory, or other topics approved by the CHSS advisor. (This is in addition to the theory requirements of political science or sociology.)
Among current elective offerings in political science and sociology, the following courses would qualify.
- POLI SCI 480 (Political Economy: Theory and Methods)
- POLI SCI 490a (Theories of Institutional Origins, Stability, and Change)
- POLI SCI 490b (The Politics of Antonio Gramsci)
- SOC 439 (Comparative and Historical Sociology)
- SOC 476 (Topics in Sociological Theory)
Theory courses from other departments might also be used to meet this requirement, but only with the approval of a CHSS advisor.
Students must develop competency in at least one mode of comparative and/or historical analysis, taking at least one course focused on such methods or logics of inquiry. This course may be focused on methods of small-N comparative analysis, methods of historical analysis, methods of archival and documentary analysis, or other topics approved by the CHSS advisor. (This is in addition to the methods requirements of political science or sociology.)
Among current elective offerings in political science and sociology, the following courses would qualify:
- POLI SCI 408 (Historical Methods in the Study of Politics)
- POLI SCI 490c (Methods of Comparative Analysis)
- SOC 410 (Comparative Methods).
This requirement can also be filled by courses outside of political science and sociology with the approval of a CHSS advisor.
Students are expected to develop whatever language skills are necessary for their research projects, and are encouraged to learn another language that might facilitate international comparative research and collaboration. Language courses, however, do not count toward the five required CHSS courses.
Students also develop their interdisciplinary skills by participating in a number of fora sponsored by the CHSS Program and by the Buffett Institute for International and Comparative Studies:
- Buffett Institute Fellows: Students become fellows at the Buffett Institute and participate in events and meetings linked to the CHSS Program.
- Workshop: Students attend and participate in a bi-weekly Workshop on Comparative and Historical Analysis sponsored by CHSS and held at the Buffett Institute.
- Quarterly Meetings: The full body of CHSS advisors and students meets once a quarter for discussion, debate, and sociability. At least one of these meetings is a proposal writing workshop for third and fourth year students.