Phd Program

What Our Alumni Say

Zainiddin Karaev (PhD 2001-2004)

Operations Officer, State and Peacebuilding Fund, the World Bank

"For me, experience at CEU and Budapest has been transformative in every way. CEU offered enabling learning environment"

Maximilian Spinner (2007, PhD)

Foreign Policy Department of the Federal Chancellery, Berlin

“For me CEU was a very intense and enriching experience, both academically and personally. "

Armin Haeberle (MA 2004-2005)

Head of Corporate Development
Frankfurt Business Media - Part of the F.A.Z. Publishing Group, Frankfurt, Germany

"CEU was a great experience for me. While the academic level was really demanding, the atmosphere was always friendly and the support and interaction with the professors and university staff a real pleasure. "

Juliane Sophie Stein (MA 2012-2014)

Researcher, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Science

"One of my major motivations for choosing CEU's Department of Political Science was the attractive combination of excellence in teaching and research on the one hand, and the good range of scholarships on the other. "

Olga Victorovna Smirnova (MA 2001-2002)

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, East Carolina University

"My life can be divided into before and after CEU. This was a truly transformative year for me as a student of Political Science."

Anna and Dave McKeever (MA 2011-2012)

Anna is MA student at University of Lausanne, while Dave is PhD candidate at University of Ulster

"We studied together on the Political Science MA program and married two years after meeting for the first time. CEU education, the outstanding staff, the resources at the department, and the intense workload (there is no point in pretending otherwise) change people"

Benedek Kurdi (MA 2012-2013)

PhD candidate, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

"The curriculum of the Political Science MA program at CEU offers a reasonably broad and, at the same time, in-depth introduction to the social sciences. "

Aliya Abbasi (MA 2012-2013)

PhD candidate, University of Queensland

"Every day spent at CEU was full of learning, challenges, opportunities, motivation and a sense of achievement"

Batlang Seabo (MA 2012-2013)

Lecturer in Political Science, University of Botswana

"Studying at CEU, in the Political Science department, is indeed a rare privilege that will potentially open up opportunities for me in the future, particularly for my career in research. It is a life-changing experience, an investment in my future."

Andrej Nosko (IRES MA 2005-2006, PhD 2013)

Program Manager Open Society Foundations

"To succeed in the current world, you need transferable skills, which will enable you to succeed in many walks of life. "

Stela Garaz (MA 2004-2005, PhD 2005-2012)

Program Officer at Roma Education Fund, Budapest

"CEU contributed greatly to my professional growth due to its committed faculty, access to a great variety of resources, and high quality of teaching."

Daniel Horn (MA 2003-2004, PhD 2004-2010)

Research Fellow, Institute of Economics, Center for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

"CEU is a true academic and intellectual community. Meeting people from all around the world and contrasting approaches from all around the scientific spectrum helped me to develop personally as well as academically."

Grigorii Golosov (MA 1993-1994)

Professor of Political Science, Project Director, Center for Democracy and Human Rights Helix, St. Petersburg

"I spent the 1993-1994 academic year at CEU Pol Sci Department, then newly formed. Academically, the time spent was more than worth it"

Peter Bajomi-Lazar (MA 1995-1996, PhD 1997-2004)

Senior Research Fellow, Department of Politics and International Relations,University of Oxford

"My years as an MA and a PhD student at CEU's Department of Political Science have taught me that social scientists have a certain responsibility toward society, and they have to do their best to help open and free societies develop in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe."

Annamaria Orban (PhD 1999-2003)

Associate Professor, Vice Dean, Scientific and International Affairs, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Budapest University of Technology and Economics

"The CEU PhD program helped a mother of two kids near 40 to speed up her academic carrier… "

Evgeni Evgeniev (MA 2000-2001, PhD 2001-2007)

Associate Professor at VUZF University, Bulgaria
Private Sector Development Specialist, Europe and Central Asia Region, World Bank, Sofia, Bulgaria

“CEU is a meeting place for people of different cultures, knowledge and experience. "

Mano Toth (MA 2010-2011)

PhD Candidate, Department of Politics, and International Studies, University of Cambridge

"My time at CEU was very rewarding. Engaging in thought-provoking debates expanded my vision and allowed me to go beyond the rather top-down learning experience of my undergraduate years"

Jennifer Yip (MA 2010-2011)

Community Services Officer, UNHCR, Armenia

"CEU has allowed me develop my capacity in many ways. The activities organized on and off campus made me more socially active and the courses more academically-driven. "

Miles Maftean (MA 2010-2011)

PhD candidate in Political Science (Political Theory track), Central European University

"My experience at CEU led me to develop a whole different idea of what learning actually is - it isn't simply obtaining and retaining truth and justifying this truth, but understanding what truth means to all different groups of people around the world"

Winne Ko (MA 2010-2011)

Marie Curie PhD Training Fellow, EURO IMPACT End-of-life Care Research Group, Ghent University & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

"CEU is truly global and the 10 month experience not only filled up my intellectual capacity, but also changed my way of thinking about the wider world"

Yuliana Palagnyuk (MA 2003-2004)

Head of the Jean Monnet Department, Senior Lecturer, Department of Public Policy and Management, Institute of Public Administration, Black Sea Petro Mohyla State University in consortium with “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”

"CEU was a wonderful experience as it helped me to grow both professionally and personally. "

Endre Danyi (MA 2002-2003)

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Sociology, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main

"The Central European University is all about transformation and movement. It is about the fascination with the ways in which societies, places and practices transform – sometimes slowly, sometimes overnight."

Emilia Lubenova (MA 2007-2008)

Marketing Specialist, Prime Capital Management, Bulgaria

"CEU and my Budapest experience are very precious to me, I will always keep them in my heart. You helped me to be what I am now - I feel young and successful and it is sure that you contributed a lot to this feeling of mine"

Sule Chousein (MA 2006-2007)

PhD Candidate, Atatürk Institute on Modern Turkish Studies, Bogazici University

"I regard my one year MA experience at the CEU as the best experience of my life. CEU is indeed a unique home which blends academic excellence with her truly dedicated, friendly and professional academic staff with equally exceptional students from all over the world."

Mariana Sireteanu Gustavsson (MA 2000-2001)

PhD candidate in Political Science, Linköping University, Sweden

"Looking back I can describe CEU as a great meeting place for people, for different cultures, knowledge and experience"

Hairong Lai (PhD 2003-2008)

Executive Director, China Center for Overseas Social and Philosophical Theories

"Central European University opened up a new world of research in political science to me."

Peter Stamatov (MA 1995-96)

Associate Professor of Sociology, Yale University
Visiting Professor, Comparative Sociology Group, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

"I remember the year I spent at CEU as an exciting time of exposure to ideas and people new to me"

Peter Vagi (MA 2002-2003)

Senior Policy Expert, OECD/SIGMA, Paris, France

"Studying at Central European University was one of the greatest journeys of my life. Being a Hungarian myself, it was also a great experience to explore my home city, Budapest together with foreigners from all over the World"

Website: Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations 

Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science

Application Deadline for PhD positions: February 1, 2017, 23:59 CET*
*Central European Time

How to apply for PhD click here.
For more information please check CEU main admissions page.


The structure of the PhD program in Political Science is based on a system of ‘tracks’ (areas of specialization, or ‘majors’). The tracks represent academic fields/sub-fields or research areas that reflect the major strengths and interests of our faculty. The five tracks are:

PhD Candidacy

The Doctoral Program in Political Science is structured around the following stages:
- Completion of coursework;
- Successful completion of the comprehensive examination;
- Successful defense of the dissertation.

The Probationary Period is between the date of enrolment and the successful passing of the Comprehensive Examination. Probationary Doctoral Candidates become Doctoral Candidates after, first, passing the comprehensive examination and, second, successfully defending the Prospectus.
Studies during PhD candidacy are based on individual research guided and monitored by the candidate's supervisory panel. CEU encourages its Doctoral Candidates to spend at least three months at another university during the research period for their dissertation. Doctoral Candidates are eligible for financial support to conduct off-campus research related to the topic of their dissertation in conformity with the general rules of research support as regulated by the university.
The doctoral dissertation must be submitted for evaluation and public defense no later than five years after the doctoral student passed the comprehensive exam.

Degree Requirements

The overall minimum number of credits that Probationary Doctoral Candidates must earn over the course of their first two academic years is 24. The minimum number of credits they must earn in the first academic year is 18.
The mandatory credits include:
- 14 credits in the students’ major track. Out of these 14 credits, 12 credits belong to the core curriculum. The 2 additional credits of the track fall in the category ‘Advanced Topics’ and change in content from year to year. These credits can be taken either in the first or the second academic year.
- 6 credits from the methods sequence. Given the importance of a sound methodological education, all Probationary Doctoral Candidates are required to take the 4-credit ‘Methods and Research Design’ course in the fall semester and a 2-credit ‘Prospectus Seminar Workshop’ in the Winter Semester of the first year.
- 4 credits from courses taken from a track different from the students’ first choice, which may count toward a minor field. Students may postpone such courses to the second academic year. Students can choose as their elective courses any course offered in any track. The PhD Program also supports the cross-listing of relevant PhD courses taught in units outside the School, as well as the cross-listing of all PhD courses with relevant disciplinary aspects and orientations from the School to other units.

Optional Credits
The student may take optional courses in the second year. If the student collects at least 8 credits from a track other than her/his own, he or she becomes entitled to a ‘minor’.
Students must have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.33 in the courses taken for credit.
Course requirements, including the type of the final requirement, are specified in the course syllabi. Exams are written exams in order to avoid bias and uncertainty in judgment.

At the end of the probationary period doctoral candidates are required to take a comprehensive examination.The comprehensive examination comprises the exam and the prospectus defense. Probationary doctoral candidates have to earn a "B+" course grade average and a "B+" grade or higher on their comprehensive examination. Admission to the program as a probationary candidate is no guarantee that the student advances to doctoral candidate status. Those students who complete the coursework with a "B+" or higher GPA and a "B+" or higher grade on their comprehensive examination but cannot successfully defend their dissertation are still eligible to receive an MPhil in Political Science degree from CEU.


The first year starts with personal consultations between the Probationary Doctoral Candidates and their personal Advisors as well as the Director of the PhD Program, with whom they must discuss their study plan for the first year. By the beginning of the second year Doctoral Candidates are required to nominate three members for their Doctoral Supervisory Committee, and to name one as their primary supervisor.
When selecting members of their Doctoral Supervisory Committee, Doctoral Candidates are also expected to submit their study plan for the next two years. The study plan has to be approved by the Doctoral Supervisory Committee and the Director of the PhD Program. Supervisors are expected to follow closely the progress of the students and to have regular contacts with them.

To find out more about the expected learning outcomes of our PhD program click here.