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Department of Political Science and International Relations

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Home / Why apply to POIR?



Curious about POIR? Hear from some of our current students and recent graduates about how the program has helped them!

Student Testimonials

Student Testimonials

“For me, choosing POIR was a great decision.  We have excellent mentors who hold us to a high standard, unique opportunities for professional development, and ample resources to enhance research.  The faculty in charge of the program are committed to providing outstanding graduate training, and in addition there is a sense of community here that contributes to the fulfillment of pursuing a PhD.”

-Rod Albuyeh

“You have the advantage of access to both the resources afforded by the Political Science and International Relations program. Not only does this mean support for interdisciplinary studies, but also mentoring from a wide-range of faculty. The locale also means that the cluster of schools nearby serve as added facilities (inter-library loans etc.) for research and additional opportunities for conferences and workshops. As evidenced by the multitude of conferences and workshop offerings, the program is fully supportive of striking that balance between in-class learning and extracurricular activities for professional enhancement. There are also various avenues for funds, especially for those interested in East Asian studies, such as the U.S.-China institute and the Korean Studies Institute.”

-Jiun Bang

“Based on my personal experience, the faculty is very accessible. POIR offers a generous funding package to all incoming students. While still a relatively new program, the placement record has been very good.”

-Fabian Borges

“The students, faculty, and staff are very welcoming and helpful. The program is flexible and allows you to pursue interdisciplinary approaches. There are plenty of resources to help you conduct research.”

-Tyler Curley

“Your fellow students in the program will be your friends, and your professors will be your mentors-from what I hear, this is not necessarily the case everywhere. Also, the funding is generous.”

-Nicholas D. Zamaróczy

“The POIR program has great professors in a variety of areas. Students can engage in a wide range of topics and focus on one of many substantive areas of interest.  So far, I have been able to gear my education to fit my particular interests as well as to gain a broader general understanding of American and Comparative Politics through the respective sub-fields.”

-Adam Feldman

“As an applicant, the reception I received from POIR faculty, staff and students was unparalleled compared to other programs. Faculty members met with me to discuss my research interests; staff explained the strong institutional support I would receive to pursue my research; and students openly shared their experiences. Since coming to USC, I have an even better perspective and hold the same high opinion. As I’ve learned more about the department it is amazing to see the vigorous effort to streamline the PhD program – part of a larger project across USC’s graduate programs. New faculty hires, new research and funding opportunities, new course offerings, and increasingly competitive incoming classes. It is really an exciting time to be here.”

-Eric Hamilton

“The professionalization opportunities, availability of professors to work with and mentor students, and funding sources for conducting research are some of the key strengths of the POIR program. The support and camaraderie among fellow cohort members also provide for a genuinely enriching learning environment. There is a wealth of expertise among the faculty and a wide range of programmatic activities in the POIR program, the Center for International Studies, East Asia Studies Center, Korean Studies Institute, and the U.S.-China Institute that are especially rewarding for students of IR in East Asia.”

-Chin-Hao Huang

“POIR is dynamic. The faculty are brilliant and accessible, and the atmosphere is purposefully collaborative. It is supportive. The program is generous with its students, so diverse research interests need not know bounds. Finally, the city of Los Angeles is warm, fun, and delicious.”

-Joey Huddleston

“I particularly enjoy being challenged by fellow graduate students and faculty on a daily basis. The collegial environment in the program is particularly conducive to healthy debate and the formation of ideas. The Professors’ doors are always open, and the support for graduate students make this a great place to study.”

-Tom Jamieson

“I wholeheartedly recommend USC POIR because it is the leading research university in the area of East Asia politics and its relations with the United States. One of the things that attracted me the most to USC was the vast amount of resources that would be available to me. The range of institutes and centers at USC is plentiful—such as the U.S.-China Institute, the Korean Institute and the East Asian Studies Center. And of course the faculty here are extremely approachable and supportive.”

-Eunice Kang

“A major advantage of POIR is that it provides high-standard courses in an environment that makes it easy to establish excellent personal relationships with faculty. In addition, this program has a unique interdisciplinary character which enables students to broaden their IR education with classes in Communications, Economics, Psychology and other departments without bureaucratic hurdles. USC has been much less affected by the last financial crisis than other major universities, so students can expect to receive generous support during the semester and for a broad variety of summer research projects.”

-Peter Knaack

“I appreciate the opportunity to study with and learn from the distinguished faculty members at USC. I am grateful for their mentorship. Also, a great location. (Yay LA!)”

-Gloria Koo

“I would recommend this program because it encompasses a number of faculty with a variety of interests. They also conscientiously support their grad students in helping them develop the skills necessary for future and present success.”

-Kymberly MacNeal

“As a student primarily interested in how race and ethnicity impact American politics, I am grateful to be in a program that is on the cutting edge of that field. The faculty we have in the department are a distinguished, decorated group that push us to think critically about what we are studying and how it affects the larger world.”

-Matthew Mendez

“I would recommend USC POIR because it provides students with the opportunity to work with great professors and to socialize in a high-quality academic environment.”

-Elli Menounou

“The POIR program not only provides students with enough flexibility to pursue our various research agendas, but it also presents us with numerous opportunities to expand the scope of our research while guiding us down our particular research paths.”

-Cyrus Mohammadian

“The relatively small size of the program not only allows students to work closely with distinguished faculty here, but also contributes to a strong sense of community among students. The program offers generous funding package for all students.”

-In Young Min

“There are a few reasons to choose POIR. First, the access to faculty members is fantastic. Even as an admitted applicant, I received numerous helpful emails from faculty members and was able to meet individually with them to discuss my research interests, their current projects, and the program. As a student, both my course professors and other faculty members have been very accessible and helpful. Second, the program provides a lot of resources to support students. Third, the students in the program are very strong academically and there is a strong sense of community among students.”

-Mark Paradis

“I really appreciate the congenial and supportive attitude of the faculty, staff, and students in the program.  The faculty are extremely accessible, and small class size allows them to provide thorough and individualized feedback while maintaining a collaborative and challenging academic environment for students.”

-Jordan Peterson

“Simply put, the program is a happy place to be: colleagues are supportive and work collaboratively; people come from diverse backgrounds and with differing viewpoints; and everyone wants you to succeed. I have yet to meet a faculty member who I didn’t like and who hasn’t been extremely helpful in assisting me in any way they could. I am proud to call my fellow POIRers friends and not just people who I share a department with.”

-Simon Radford

“The POIR community is welcoming and filled with energy. The faculty is actively engaged and different kinds of academic resources or opportunities are highly accessible.”

-Mengxiao Tang

“I have had so many wonderful professors who are great scholars with incredible personalities, including, of course, my advisers: Professors Patrick James and Saori Katada. They are hardworking, intellectually stimulating, and caring mentors. Adding to the lure are our incredibly efficient library services, the generous research funding and the genuinely international characteristics of LA and USC.”

-Xiangfeng Yang

“I consider USC’s POIR program to be a definitive place in the study of judicial politics and international law, it has a great and long tradition in this field of expertise.”

-Thora Giallouri