Resources for Current Students

Planning for a graduate degree can be complex. The following guides provide information on procedures, policies, and requirements relevant to the Ph.D. program in the Department of Political Science at UW-Madison.

The UW–Madison Political Science Ph.D. Program offers students the opportunity to work as teaching assistants. Teaching assistants work with an instructor to gain experience in leading discussion sections, as well as grading papers and exams. The following information is intended to help new TAs prepare for teaching, pursue further training, and address any issues that arise while teaching.

Spring 2020 ongoing TA training sessions:
  • “Creating Accessible Classrooms for Students with Disabilities”: Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 12 pm in 4322 Social Sciences
  • “Teaching and the Job Market”: Wednesday, April 8 at 12 p.m. in the Ogg Room (422 North Hall)

Introduction to TAing in the department

UW–Madison Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures Handbook

Sample Syllabi, Section Activities, and Resources for Helping Students

Political Science TA Resources Dropbox

Whom to Contact for Help

For questions specifically about the course you are TAing…

  • Start with your head TA, if you have one.
  • If not, check with a more experienced TA for the same course, if you are not TAing alone.
  • Then, ask the faculty member for whom you are TAing.

For questions about TAing in the Political Science Department…

  • General questions about TAing: the Department TA Mentor (for 2019–2020, Anna Meier,
  • Concerns about your TA assignment or the general structure of how assignments work: Deb McFarlane, Graduate Program Coordinator, at or in 110C North Hall

For concerns about a specific student…


Online Resources

College of Letters & Sciences resources for teaching assistants (requires UW login)

Food assistance for students

Sample syllabus statement on inclusivity for disabled students

Support for undocumented students

University Health Services mental health support groups

The Writing Center

For further instruction in teaching:

Delta Program events

Graduate School events

UW Teaching Academy events

The Department of Political Science is committed to creating a professional and welcoming workplace environment for men and women of every background, including race, ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation, and ideological perspective. The department is committed to promoting academic freedom and intellectual discourse. At the same time, the department expects an environment of mutual respect and consideration for colleagues. The primary means for this to occur is for all individuals to use common sense, decency, and respect for others as their guide to interacting with others in the workplace. Thus, this statement does not include any effort to codify speech. The need to create a professional and welcoming workplace environment extends to all of North Hall.

For situations in which problems regarding the working environment arise, the department encourages the concerned parties to discuss the problem among themselves and seek resolution together. In situations in which this may not be advisable (for example instances involving a power differential), or if this strategy has not been successful, they are welcome to seek additional assistance from the Chair, the Associate Chair, or the department liaisons. These department representatives will make reasonable and timely efforts to help resolve the issue. The department encourages the concerned parties to meet together, or to have the department representative meet separately with each party with full information. At the same time, the department recognizes that there will be cases that call for a different approach. All concerned parties should make every effort to keep communication channels open throughout the process. The department representatives will report back verbally to the participants at the conclusion of the department-level process. There will be no department record of this process.

This informal department process is designed to assist faculty, staff, and students in the Department of Political Science to maintain a professional and welcoming workplace environment. While the department does not have the authority to require participation or to impose sanctions, it encourages the parties to participate in this problem-resolution process. This informal process is not a substitute for the established university policies or public law on sexual harassment, nor is it a prerequisite for pursuing any claims under such policies or laws.

Department Chair

Scott Straus, 

Associate Chair

Nadav Shelef,

Department Administrator

Faye Lux,

GPC Representatives

Rochelle Snyder, 

Thomas Worth,

The Political Science Graduate Workshop (PSGW) focuses on personal and professional development for current graduate students in the political science department. The PSGW’s mission is to “foster communication and information-sharing among the grad students and faculty members of the political science department and to promote professional development opportunities for the grad students.” The topics covered in PSGW range from topics in graduate life (health and balance, financial life) to discipline professional development (publishing, communications). This workshop convenes several times per semester each academic year.

More information:  

Current graduate student coordinators:

Monica Busch:

Levi Bankston:

Internal resources

  • Summer Research Initiative: Each spring the Political Science Department invite graduate students to submit proposals to fund research and training projects during the summer. Eligible activities include but are not limited to conference travel (including the APSA annual meeting), travel to conduct research, purchase of software or data, and tuition for courses or workshops. Projects in the early phases of dissertation research and those leading to publication will get higher priority. Seniority and standing in the graduate program are also considerations. Budgets may not include direct salary. Calls for proposals will be sent out in the spring.
  • Elections Research Center: The Elections Research Centers provides funding for graduate students for summer fellowships, conference travel, and research. Additional details:
  • Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS): The IRIS Awards Office manages its own funding opportunities (Scott Kloeck-Jenson Fellowships, IRIS Graduate Fieldwork Awards, Incubator Grants), coordinates the campus component of a number of external programs (Boren Fellowships, Fulbright US Student Program, Fulbright-Hays DDRA, Luce Scholars Program), and assists students in exploring other funding options:

External sources

General Study 

Language Study

Pre-dissertation Field and Archival Work 

Field and Archival Work

Peer mentorship is a critical component of success in graduate school. A good mentor displays the the following qualities:

  • Willingness to share knowledge, skills, and expertise: A good mentor is willing to teach what he/she knows and accept the mentee where they currently are in their professional development. Good mentors can remember what it was like just starting out in the field. The mentor does not take the mentoring relationship lightly and understands that good mentoring requires time and commitment and is willing to continually share information and their ongoing support with the mentee.
  • Provides guidance and constructive feedback: One of the key responsibilities of a good mentor is to provide guidance and constructive feedback to their mentee. This is where the mentee will most likely grow the most by identifying their current strengths and weaknesses and learning how to use these to make them successful in the field. A good mentor possesses excellent communication skills and is able to adjust their communication to the personality style of the mentee. A good mentor will also provide the mentee with challenges that will foster professional development and a feeling of accomplishment in learning the field.
  • Personal interest in the mentoring relationship: Good mentors do not take their responsibility as a mentor lightly. They feel invested in the success of the mentee. Usually this requires someone who is knowledgeable, compassionate, and possesses the attributes of a good teacher or trainer. Excellent communication skills are also required. A good mentor is committed to helping their mentees find success and gratification in their chosen profession. Overall good mentoring requires empowering the mentee to develop his/her own strengths, beliefs, and personal attributes.
  • Values the opinions and initiatives of others: A mentor who values others is also someone who works well in a team environment and is willing to share his/her success. A good mentor appreciates the ongoing effort of the mentee and empowers him/her through positive feedback and reinforcement.
  • Motivates mentees through setting a good example: A mentor is usually highly motivated, dedicated, and has a strong work ethic themselves and by exhibiting these qualities, sets a good example for mentees.
  • Looks for ways to improve mentoring skills: A mentor strives to improve her or his skills by keeping up with best practices. Fortunately, at UW–Madison there are a number of resources that can help with this. See, for instance, Delta’s mentor training opportunities, and Institute for Clinical and Translational Research’s  resources for research mentors.