PhD Student Life Guide

Information on the Fletcher Ph.D. program can also be found in the PhD section of the Student Handbook. The items below cover some of the most frequently asked questions.
Campus Parking Permits

In order to park at Tufts, you must have a parking permit. There are different ones available for those living on and off campus. They may be purchased for one semester or one academic year.

You will need as a student to show your student ID, car registration and proof of insurance to the Public Safety Office in the basement of Dowling Hall. Fees are payable by check or cash only at this time, although they are looking in to an online credit card system for the future.  Once you have secured a parking permit, a parking pass for garage access can be obtained for free upon request. Maps of parking areas are available as well.

Comprehensive Exams

When students are ready to schedule their exams they should complete and submit the "Request to Schedule Comps Form" located on the Petitions Forms page and return it to Ann Marie Decembrele [].

Ph.D. candidates must successfully pass their written and oral comprehensive exams in their two fields of study within one year of completing coursework. They are scheduled in September, November, February and April. Students schedule the date, timing and order of their two written exams within the period of two weeks, followed 10- 14 days later by their oral exam. Students are responsible for securing an exam room, printing their documents, and returning them on time. Students have 7.5 hours for each written exam and it is closed book. Most fields allow you to use a computer, but check with the field coordinator to confirm this. The oral exam is one hour long. Upon successful completion of all written exams, they may proceed to the oral. Students who do not pass either the written or oral exams within two attempts will not be allowed to remain in the Ph.D. program.

Students should contact the field coordinator (see "Student Handbook") of each of the two fields in which they plan to take comprehensive exams some six to ten months prior to their exam date to determine a reading list and the content and format of the exam. Some field coordinators have already prepared brief guidelines for their fields (see links below). As others become available, they will be posted here and in the "Student Handbook"


Course Information
In addition to the yearly on-line posting of courses, schedules and descriptions, students can access the most recent syllabus by referring to the professor’s webpage. Furthermore, Course Evaluations submitted by students at the end of every semester are available in Ginn library. Finally, at the beginning of every semester, seminars and new courses are showcased right before the beginning of classes during “Shopping Day.”

Dissertation Statement of Intent
This document (eight page maximum), which is an initial step in the process of preparation of your dissertation proposal, is due three months after you pass your comprehensive exams. See the forms page to download a copy.
Dissertation Proposals

Upon successful completion of both written and oral comprehensive exams, and the Dissertation Statement of Intent (three months post-comps) students have another six months in which to present and defend their dissertation proposals to the three members who comprise their committee. Students are free to select the members of their committee according to the guidelines in the PhD section of the Student Handbook and may include an outside reader as a member. The chair of this committee must be on the Fletcher faculty.

All successfully defended proposals are submitted to Jenifer for review by the Ph.D. committee at least TWO weeks in advance of the next Ph.D. committee meeting, along with IRB exemption or approval, Dissertation Proposal form and all CVs of outside readers for approval. Students are able to petition the PhD Committee for one 6-month extension of time to defense the dissertation proposal. After that, any extensions may result in the loss of financial aid.

For a current listing of committee members, please see the PhD Committee page on the Ph.D. student website. The Ph.D. committee may approve, reject, or conditionally approve any proposal. Students must petition the Ph.D. committee to change any member of their committee or to change the title of their dissertation. Most petition forms are available on-line on the Forms page on this Student Life Guide.

Some sample dissertation proposals are available in the reference section of the Ginn Library. Students have an option of whether or not to make their proposals public. An outline of the dissertation proposal from the methodology course is available in the Dissertation Proposal Guide.

Ph.D. Program Director Jenifer Burckett-Picker [] is responsible for adding students to the Fletcher Ph.D. email list serve, using their @tufts email address. All Ph.D. students may post official email messages to the list serve.

All Fletcher students are also on the official email list serve, which is maintained by Students may post to it, however it is moderated.

Additionally, Ph.D. students have a Ph.D. Student Group email list, which is not moderated. All Ph.D. students may post to it. The purpose of this list is to communicate with student leaders, coordinate student-run events, and socialize.

Students have the option of subscribing to the social list serve, which is maintained by Information on social activities, debates on current events, and items for sale are common issues that go through this list serve.To post a message to the faculty and/or staff lists, contact

Evening Seminar Series

Evening Seminars

2015-16 Schedule of Evening Seminars

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, 5-6:30pm in C407
"Tips for Successful Fellowship Applications"-Gregory Simpson (Tufts Office of Research Adm.), Irina Chindea (current PhD student), Ivan Rasmussen (recent PhD grad), Jenifer Burckett-Picker

Monday, November 9, 2015  5:30-7pm in C407
"Travel Safety and Preparing for Research in Conflict Zones" - Claudia Jackson, Program Manager Int'l Safety and Operations

Wed, February 10, 2016, 5:30-7:30pm in C407
"Tips for Writing Successful Op Eds-I"-Prof. Edward Schumacher-Matos

Tues., March 15, 2016, 5:30-7pm in C407
"Tips for Writing Successful Op Eds-II Critiquing Individual Student Op Eds" - Prof. Edward Schumacher-Matos

2014-15 Schedule of Evening Seminars

Tuesday, September 23, 6-6:30pm in C407
"Writing Opeds and Articles for the Ideas Section of the Boston Globe", Stephen Heuser, Boston Globe "Ideas Section" Editor

Wednesday, October 15, 5:30-7pm in C703
"Comparing and Contrasting Endnote and Zotero", Rhys Sevier, Ginn Reference Librarian

Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, 5:30-7pm in C-407
"PhD Funding Sources and Tips for Successful Applications"-Jenifer Burckett-Picker with Alison Russell (PhD Alum 2012), and current students Ches Thurber and Irina Chindea

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, 5:30-7:00pm in C-407
"Tips for Conducting Research, Particularly Field Research" - David Sussman, Melita Sawyer, Jim Shyne (2014 alum)

Thursday, April 16, 2015, 5:30-7:00 pm in C-407
"Academic Book Publishing - Tips for Success" - Profs. Sulmaan Khan (Fletcher) and Alison Russell (Merrimack College, PhD alum 2012)

Academic Year 2013-2014

Wed., October 29, 2013, 4-5:30pm in C407
"Methodological Possibilities for Fletcher PhD. Student Dissertation Research", Profs. Gallagher, Aker, Hike and Tunnard

Thurs., Nov. 7, 2013, 5:30-7:00 in C407
"Preparing for Research in Conflict Zones: Practical and Legal Considerations", Prof. Dyan Mazurana

Thurs. Jan. 16, 2014, 5:30-7:00 in C407
"Tips for Successful Fellowship Applications", Alison Russell (alum 2012), Ches Thurber (current Ph.D.) and Jenifer Burckett-Picker

Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 from 2-3pm in C102 (also open to MALDs)
"Op-Ed Writing Seminar", Daniel Gaynor (speech writer from USAID)

Thursday, April 24, 2014 from 5:30-7pm
"Has Academia Become Irrelevant to the Policy World?", Dean Ian Johnstone


Academic Year 2012-2013

Thursday, November 29
Anne Moore, Program Specialist and the Fulbright Advisor in the Scholar Development Office of Tufts Academic Advising and Ethan Corbin and Ches Thurber (Current Ph.D. Students and Eisenhower Fellowship Recipients),  “Putting Together a Successful Application for the Fulbright and Eisenhower-Pappas Fellowship Programs”, 

Wednesday, October 10
Professor Robert Pfaltzgraff, Jenifer Burckett-Picker, Alison Russell (Ph.D. August 2012), “Preparing for Your Dissertation Defense”,

Wednesday, September 19
Courtney Richardson (Ph.D. 2012) and Mihaela Papa (Ph.D. 2010), “Applying for Pre-docs and Post-docs – Strategies That Work”.

Academic Year 2011-2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
 Prof. Zeynep Bulutgil, “How to Apply for Grants”.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Dr. Lauren Brodsky and Dr. Nancy Gleason, “The Challenges of Starting a Post-Ph.D. Career in the Boston Area”.

Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012
 Dr. Dipali Mukhopadhyay, "Post Docs, Publishing, and Professoring: What Comes after My Ph.D.?"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Professor Karen Jacobsen, “After the Interviews: Analyzing and Writing Up the Data”.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Professor Karen Jacobsen, “Getting a Grip on the Dissertation Proposal”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Professor Kelly Sims Gallagher, “Applying for a Post-Doc: Does it Make Sense? How to Choose, Tips for Applying, and More”

Tuesday, September 28, 2011
Phillip McMullen, Director of Office of Career Services, “The Non-Academic Job Search”

Academic Year 2010-2011

April 14, 2011
Professor Alan Wachman: “Demystifying the Dissertation-Writing Process”

March 29, 2011
Phillip McMullen, Director of OCS: “Materials and OCS Support for the Non-Academic  Job Search” (postponed due to illness)

February 8, 2011
Professors Peter Uvin and Karen Jacobsen: “ How to Get Through the Dissertation Proposal in Less than Two Years!” 

November 9, 2010
Professor Karen Jacobsen: "Herding Cats and Hurdling Blocks:  Managing Your Dissertation Committee and Confronting the Writing Process".

October 18, 2010
Professor William Martel:  “The Path from Initial Idea to Publication”.

Prof. Rusty Tunnard (Fletcher PhD 2010): “Shaking Off the Post-Comps Hangover and Confronting the Dissertation Proposal". September 21, 2010

Academic Year 2009-2010

April 27, 2010
 [Audio]Everything You Wanted to Ask about the Academic Job Market, but Were Afraid to Ask.Daniel Drezner:  Professor

Professor Kelly Sims Gallagher:   [Audio] November 2, 1009
Professor Kelly Sims Gallagher:  The Challenges and Advantages of a Fletcher PhD [Audio]


Professor Alan Wachman, [Audio] October 23, 2009
Professor Alan Wachman, Common Critical Chapters: Introductions, Literature Reviews, Conclusions.  [Audio]


Professor William Moomaw:  [Audio] September 29, 2009
Professor William Moomaw:  Every Journey Begins with a Single Step: Developing your Dissertation Proposal [Audio]
Fares Research Center Desks
The Fares Research Center is located next to the Blakeley Parking Lot. In order to obtain a desk there, you must contact Ph.D. Program Director, Jenifer Burckett-Picker. First preference for Fares desks is given to students who have successfully completed their comprehensive exams. If space remains, those in the comprehensive exam phase may apply for space there. The center is a secure building that can be accessed 24 hours a day. Fares Center application form is in the Forms  section of this guide. 

Fellowship, Scholarship and Grant Information

The Office of Career Services (OCS) can provide you information on how to register for Fletcher Career Central (FCC). Additional information is sent to the Ph.D. list serve from the Director of the PhD Program and for Fletcher Financial Aid from the Director of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

You will need to register for the Community of Science (COS) funding alert in order to view many of the alerts forwarded to the list serve. In addition, COS registration allows Ph.D. students, using their Tufts email address, to create their own funding alert catered to their particular research interest. Alerts are sent via email on a weekly basis based on the criteria selected and there is an option to also post background education and/or a CV. Registration is free. Go to and select login to your pivot
and then on second page  select 'sign up'. Add your registration information. You can also use this site to search researchers at other institutions.

Finally, many professional organizations (APSA, APS, ISA, etc.) generate their own funding alerts and conference information.

There is also a fellowship database posted on the Ph.D. Trunk site.



Foreign Language Exams
You must successfully pass one written and one oral foreign language exam if your native language is English. They are offered each semester. If you were educated through high school in another language, you may file for an exemption to have English considered as your foreign language.  Contact Ann Marie Decembrele [] who administers these exams for additional information. More information on the foreign language requirement.
The Ph.D. petition form, dissertation proposal and defense forms and the Ph.D. application/plan of study form can be found on Ph.D. Website under PhD Forms. Most other forms are available in the Registrar’s Office.

Institutional Review Board (IRB)
All dissertation proposals which deal with Human Subjects Research must be approved by the IRB, either through exemption or through full (or expedited) approval, prior to being submitted to the PhD Committee, and prior to commencing research. PhD students should apply for IRB exemption/approval through Jenifer's office BEFORE they defend their dissertation proposal. Information on this process may be obtained from the following Fletcher Intranet website:

Library - Classes on Databases & Citation Software at Ginn
Ginn library frequently offers classes on using databases as well as Endnote and Refworks citation software throughout the academic year. They will be announced on the official email list serve.

Library - Harvard Widener Borrowing Privileges, etc.

Fletcher students may get a Harvard College Library Special Borrower’s Card. In order to obtain one, you must go to the Library Privileges Office at Widener Library, Room 195 and show your Fletcher Student ID card.

Please visit the library pages on the Fletcher website for additional information on interlibrary loans and access to many other libraries.

Media Outreach
Fletcher’s Marketing Communications office facilitates interviews with the media and assists in the publishing of op-eds and articles. These services are available to the Fletcher community, including faculty, current students and administration. For additional information, please contact the Communications Office (

Miscellaneous & Ph.D. Program Information
Additional information on the Ph.D. program can be found in the Student Handbook on pages referring to the PhD Program.


Various Fletcher committees review issues relating to Ph.D. student life. Below is a brief summary of common issues.

The CSAP reviews petitions for the following issues:

  • exceptions, exemptions or equivalency for fields of study or divisional requirements (excluding methodology and statistics requirements)
  • retroactive credit for coursework offered toward the 5th semester
  • further extension of coursework: first request
  • late course enrollment
  • creating a special field

The Ph.D. Committee reviews petitions for the following issues:

  • exemption, exception and equivalency for the methodology & statistics requirements
  • extension of Ph.D. candidacy
  • approval of Ph.D. dissertation proposals
  • change of reader and/or title of thesis from original proposal
  • change of timing/examiner of comprehensive exams
  • deferring beginning the Ph.D. Program
  • reader exceptions (i.e., two non-Fletcher readers)
  • formal admission for internal admits
  • reinstatement to Ph.D. degree candidacy

Both the Student Academic Programs (CSAP) and Ph.D. Committee review the transfer credit toward the 5th semester.
See the Petition Forms page on the PhD website for these forms.

Ph.D. Committee

In coordination with other Committees at Fletcher, the Academic Dean and the Executive Associate Dean for Student Affairs, the PhD Committee directs the doctoral program. It is the policymaking body of the Ph.D. program. The committee:

  • Reviews all successfully defended Dissertation Proposals. It may approve, reject or conditionally approve any proposal pending additional information.
  • Decides outcome of the following student petitions:
  • extension of Ph.D. candidacy
  • change of reader
  • change of title from original proposal
  • change of timing/examiner of comprehensive exams
  • deferring beginning the Ph.D. Program
  • reader exceptions (i.e., two non-Fletcher readers)
  • reinstatement to Ph.D. degree candidacy
  • equivalency credit toward the 5th semester (the CSAP committee also reviews this petition)
  • Determines internal and external admission to the program
  • Nominates doctoral students for internal/fellowships that require school/institutional selection. Application deadlines for these awards are announced on the listserv. Nominees are drawn from the pool of applicants and not from the entire doctoral student body.


Membership is comprised of at least four professors (one of whom serves as the chair), the Director of the PhD Program, a member of the Registrar’s Office, and two student representatives elected by doctoral students in the Spring, In addition, the Director of Admissions and Financial Services Laurie Hurley and Associate Director Jessica Daniels participate in the admissions meetings. Student members do not participate in the admissions meetings or the internal fellowship selection discussions.

Chair of the Ph.D. Committee:  Chair of the Ph.D. Committee: Nadim Rouhana, Prof.of International Negotiation and Conflict Studies, Director of the International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program

    Members: Laurent Jacque, Prof. of International Finance and Banking
    Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Prof. of International Security Studies
    Kimberly Theidon, Prof. of International Humanitarian Studies
    Zeynep Bulutgil: Ass't Prof. of Comparative Politics
    Jenifer Burckett-Picker, Director of the Ph.D. Program
    Ann Marie Decembrele: Assoc. Registrar
    Jessica Daniels, Sr. Assoc. Director, Admissions Office
    Meg Guliford, Ph.D. Student Rep
    Bret McEvoy, Ph.D. Student Rep
    Aaron Melaas, Ph.D. Student Rep
Previous Fletcher Dissertations and Dissertation Proposals
Bound copies of previous Fletcher dissertations are available in Ginn Library. Some Dissertation Proposals are also available in Ginn. Students have an option of whether or not to make their proposals public. There are two acceptable proposal formats: the standard social-science proposal and the three essay proposal for business students. An outline of the social science proposal is on the PhD webpage in the Dissertation Proposal Guide.

Post Course Work - Registration
After completing the comprehensive examinations, Ph.D. candidates who are beyond the coursework phase continue to pay the Ph.D. enrollment fee each semester and must register each semester on-line using SIS for a 400-level PhD Reading and Research course for either full, half, or part-time study. A reminder email will be sent out to the list-serve from the Registrar's Office each year in July and December, so PhD students should take care to check their Tufts email account regularly. PhD students who do not enroll themselves in SIS for one of the 400-level PhD Reading and Research courses will be automatically enrolled for part-time study by the Registrar. Please note that students who are enrolled for part-time study are not eligible for loan deferment.

Please also note that PhD students who are no longer enrolled in traditional courses are not automatically assessed the health insurance and health service fees. PhD students (in the post coursework phase) who want health coverage through Tufts must contact the Health Services directly to make arrangements to purchase Health Insurance.
Professional Organizations

There are a series of professional organizations that provide information on international relations and other areas of interests to doctoral students. Many offer discounted subscription fees for students and provide information on conferences, job fairs, grants, etc. Some common ones are:

Registering a Laptop
TTS recommends that students/faculty/staff use tufts-secure for their wireless connection, which does not require registration. See for more information.

Student Information System (SIS) Website
The SIS website ( is a primary reference point for students. This is where they register (during the course-work phase), view and/or print an unofficial transcript, order an official transcript, view balances, and update personal information such as phone number, address and email contact.
Student Representatives
There are several Ph.D. student representatives. A list of current representatives and their functions can be found on the PhD Website under Ph.D. Student Leaders

Student Webpages

All registered, Fletcher Ph.D. students have the option of creating a free personal webpage on which to showcase their research. This page will remain active for up to one year past graduation. You may provide as much or as little information as you like, such as name, fields of study, advisors/chair, research interests, proposed dissertation title, CV, and/or a photo.  Please go to to create your webpage.


You can visit the "student webpages" at  (and click on "PhD tab") to sample some of the pages. Please be aware that any information will be accessible to anyone with an internet address, therefore use caution when posting items with personal information such as your social security number, student ID number, telephone and/or address.