Skip to Main Content

Doctoral Program

Global Studies Doctoral Program

  • Conflict, Cooperation, Security and Human Rights
  • International Political Economy, Trade and Development
  • Theory in Global Studies

Doctoral Qualifying Exam
Doctoral Dissertation

Ph.D. in Global Studies

The Ph.D. in Global Studies is an interdisciplinary program offered through the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, administered by the Department of Political Science, with an interdisciplinary faculty group representing a range of disciplines, including Economics, Education, Sociology, Philosophy, History, Psychology, Criminal Justice and Political Science.

This is an interdisciplinary, research-oriented degree, designed for students and practitioners who seek advanced interdisciplinary education to develop their ability to analyze problems, policies and programs and to facilitate a sophisticated understanding of the crucial challenges facing the world today. Our innovative interdisciplinary program trains students in social scientific methods and inquiry, while offering a strong foundation in humanities-based theory and knowledge. The Program has three areas of study:

  1. Conflict, Cooperation, Security and Human Rights
  2. International Political Economy, Trade and Development
  3. Theory in Global Studies

Graduates of this program will be able to:

  • Utilize qualitative and/or quantitative methods to conduct research on major issues of contemporary global significance.
  • Understand policies key to addressing critical global problems, ranging from migration to conflict and climate change.
  • Publicize best practices and innovative findings through teaching, presentations, and publications in various formats.

Graduates of the program will also demonstrate the following knowledge competencies:

  • Globally shared political, social, economic and security issues.
  • Current academic research in the fields covered by two of the program areas of study (Conflict, Cooperation, Security and Human Rights; International Political Economy, Trade and Development; or Theory in Global Studies) as well as a broad familiarity with key topics in all three areas.
  • An understanding of the key concepts, theories, and methodology in the new and emerging field of Global Studies.
  • An understanding of the diverse aspects of global civil society--such as political economy, security, human rights, religion, ethical and historical perspectives--that affect our contemporary world in significant ways.
  • A working knowledge of the organizations, institutions and global systems having important roles in the development and maintenance of global civil society, human rights and social justice and economic growth and stability.
  • Advanced quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Admissions Requirements:

  1. Applicants must show official evidence of having earned a baccalaureate degree or its U.S. equivalent from an accredited college or university. Complete and official undergraduate and graduate (if applicable) academic transcripts from all previously attended institutions must be provided. A Master's degree is not required.
  2. If an international transcript does not adequately demonstrate that an applicant has the equivalent of an American bachelor's, the applicant must obtain such verification by an independent service such as the Center for Educational Documentation, Boston, MA (617-338-7171).
  3. All prior degrees must have been earned with a satisfactory scholastic average to demonstrate that the applicant has adequate preparation for the field in which doctoral studies are undertaken.
  4. Applicants must have achieved satisfactory Verbal and Quantitative scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). In some instances, GMAT or LSAT scores may be substituted. The official score report must be submitted; a photocopy of the examiner's report is acceptable.
  5. Three (3) letters of reference must be provided from individuals familiar with the educational [two letters minimum] and/or professional performance [maximum of one letter] of the applicant.
  6. Applicants must submit a personal statement of about 750 words which indicates why the applicant wishes to pursue a doctoral degree in Global Studies. An interview may also be requested by the Graduate Admissions Committee.
  7. Your personal Statement should address the following:
    • Describe your personal, professional and academic background, and what has led you to apply for admission to the UMass Lowell doctoral program in Global Studies at this point in your personal and professional journey.
    • Describe a global problem or challenge that is of particular interest to you, and why?
    • Describe the research you would like to conduct as part of your Ph.D. studies (We understand interests may change as your training advances, but this is a way to assess your research potential and fit with the program)
    • Indicate which 2 of the 3 tracks you are most interested in, and why?
    • Indicate in your statement (and on the application form) whether you intend to enroll full-time or part-time in this program
  8. A current CV/resume is required
  9. International applicants (whose native language is not English and who have not earned a university degree where English was the primary language of instruction, must also provide official test score of the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo. A waiver may be given to candidates who have completed at least two semesters of full-time college/university work in the United States by the date of submission of this application.

Application Materials:

  1. Application form
  2. Proof of an earned baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university
  3. Undergraduate and graduate academic transcripts from all previously attended institutions
  4. Official GRE scores (in some instances GMAT or LSAT scores may be substituted)
  5. Current CV/resume
  6. Personal statement
  7. Letters (3) of reference from individuals familiar with your educational [two letters minimum] and/or professional performance [maximum of one letter].
  8. Official TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo scores. (Required for international students whose native language is not English and who have not earned a university degree where English was the primary language of instruction.)

Optional, but applicants are strongly encouraged to also submit:

  1. Evidence of bilingual or multilingual skills and level of proficiency (oral and written)
  2. Evidence of research and reasoning skills

Each application will be carefully evaluated by an admissions committee comprised of faculty participating in the Global Studies program. All of the items mentioned above will inform their deliberations - thus, an incomplete application will not be considered.

Deadline for Admissions Decisions:

Decisions for admission into the Ph.D. in Global Studies program are made for the fall semester only. This program has an application deadline of January 1. Applications will be reviewed by an admissions committee during the first half of the spring semester.

Applicants will be notified of the Admissions decision on or around April 1.

Transfer Credit for the Ph.D. in Global Studies:

The faculty committee for the Ph.D. in Global Studies can accept transfer credit for graduate courses from an accredited university with a grade of "B" or better which meet the university policy for graduate transfer credit. Transfer credit can be awarded for up to 21 credit hours from a completed Masters. Transfer credit will only be awarded for courses that are substantially similar to those offered at UMass Lowell and are consistent with the UMass Lowell's Global Studies curriculum. Applicants are required to submit Course Descriptions and Course Syllabus for each course to be considered for transfer credit.

Degree Requirements:

The Ph.D. program in Global Studies offers three areas of concentration to meet the specific research interests of students - Theory in Global Studies, Conflict, Cooperation, Security and Human Rights; International Political Economy, Trade and Development.

All students are required to take 12 credits of core coursework, 12 credits of research methods courses, 27 credits of elective courses (a maximum of 21 credits which can be transferred from a MA/MS degree program with director approval), and a minimum of 9 dissertation credits.

For specific course information please consult the degree pathway.

AOCAreas of Concentration:

Conflict, Cooperation, Security and Human Rights:

This area explores the wide range of issues that present challenges to peace and human security in the modern world, from traditional forms of conflict and terrorism, to humanitarian crises, climate change, illicit economies, and criminal networks. We study causes, but also consequences and solutions to conflict that involve local, national, and international actors, framed within the broad conversation about security that has emerged in the international relations and comparative politics over the last three decades. This broad perspective includes multiple dynamics of security—human, societal, economic, environmental, and political—experienced by states and societies across different world regions. This area also analyzes how governments, civilians, and multinational organizations, among many other relevant actors, respond to multiple kinds of security threats.

International Political Economy, Trade and Development: 

This area is designed to enhance understanding of economic, political and social development around the globe. Globalization is enhanced by international trade foreign investments, world financial markets, migration movements, and technological transfers. All of these factors affect countries growth potential as well as their income distribution. We study how such global flows interact with domestic policies to shape economic policy and economic outcomes in areas such as health, education, poverty, literacy, environment, and sustainability.

Theory in Global Studies:

This area of study will provide students a deep understanding of the theoretical underpinnings and rapidly emerging new paradigms of global studies. Globalization has exposed some of the shortcomings of traditional theories of international relations, economic development, and political and social philosophy. By promoting a critical approach to traditional theory in this field and by embracing theoretical contributions from feminism, ecology, anthropology, cultural studies and international political economy, students will be able to comprehend the intellectual contribution of a wide range of disciplines to understanding the impact of globalization on citizens and societies. This area of study provides a thorough background in traditional theoretical approaches to understanding global society while exposing students to innovative new approaches and arenas of study. The area of study is designed to move students from theory to practice and to encourage examination of current events through the lens of theories both traditional and new, and by assessing their explanatory power and implications for domestic and international study.

Doctoral Qualifying Paper or Qualifying Exam:

Following the accumulation of at least 27 credits at the doctoral level (i.e., credits transferred from a Master's program do not count), students will submit a qualifying paper demonstrating their ability to research and publish. In this paper, the student must demonstrate engagement in the field and the ability to make a scholarly contribution. The expectation is that papers deemed acceptable will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. The paper should be accompanied by a 3-4 pages statement outlining the student's research agenda and how it fits into the broader field of global studies and build on existing scholarship. The paper and research statement will be reviewed by a committee comprised of at least three core members of the Global Studies Faculty. if the committee comprised decides the paper does not meet the minimum standards, the student will have one opportunity to resubmit within one semester.

Alternatively, students may opt to take a comprehensive doctoral exam, which must be passed prior to students' enrollment in dissertation credits. Students will test in their two areas of study and each section of the test will incorporate a methods component. Students will be given access to a computer (with no internet connection, notes, etc.) and will have three hours to answer each part of the exam. A two-hour break will be provided between part 1 and part 2. Altogether, the exam and breaks will last 8 hours.

The qualifying exam will be offered in November and May of each year. Students wishing to take the qualifying exam must announce their intent to sit by the deadline set in the semester prior to the examination on the form provided by the Program.


Upon successfully passing the Comprehensive Qualifying Exam, a student can begin his/her dissertation research. The major requirements remaining at this stage are: (1) successful oral defense of a dissertation proposal; and (2) successful oral defense of a complete dissertation and submission of the final written document.

Doctoral Dissertation (minimum 9 credits):

The minimum number of dissertation credits is  9. During each semester of the dissertation stage, students will register for 1,3,6, or 9 credits of direct supervision (GLST.7530 / GLST.7560 /  GLST.7590 Dissertation Supervision) with their dissertation advisor. Students must successfully pass oral defenses of both the dissertation proposal an of the completed dissertation.