Doctoral studies must combine rigor with flexibility. This mixture is a hallmark of successful doctoral programs in the leading universities of the world. Therefore, while it is expected that most doctoral students at the DI will follow the study plan set out below, some may be exempted from parts of the plan either because they can demonstrate advanced standing, or because their fields of specialization may not demand some of the courses as determined by the Board of Doctoral Studies on the recommendation of Schools and Programs. Students who can demonstrate competence in the foundational courses will be granted advanced standing status as specified above. Students specializing in History and Linguistics for example, may be exempted from the quantitative methodology course and instead take the Modern and Contemporary Arab Thought course.
The first part of doctoral studies, extending over two semesters of fourteen weeks each, will be devoted to providing the students with advanced methodological and theoretical training in quantitative and qualitative methodology, research design, the philosophy of social sciences, interdisciplinary topics in the social sciences and humanities, and modern and contemporary Arab thought. These courses provide the foundation of the doctoral degree. These courses are offered with the proviso that some students, based on specialization, will be allowed to take the course, Modern and Contemporary Arab Thought, in lieu of Advanced Quantitative Research Methods, at the discretion of the Board of Doctoral Studies. The following descriptions provide a macro-level synopsis of each of these courses:
Advanced Quantitative Research Methods (3 credit hours)
This course offers a wide-ranging view of modern statistical tools used across a diverse set of fields dedicated to social scientific inquiry. The course provides substantial emphasis on applications and real-life data analysis related to social, behavioral, political, and economic phenomena. It aims to equip students with the necessary statistical tools and knowledge to conduct applied research in the social sciences. Topics covered in this course include classical linear regression, instrumental variables, non-linear least squares, binary choice models, sample selection, panel data analysis, resampling and bootstrapping, and causal inference.
Advanced Qualitative Research Methods (3 credit hours)
This advanced-level course addresses the philosophy and practice of qualitative research. The course is divided into four sections. The first portion of the course critically engages the philosophical foundations of qualitative research, with attention to the relationship between epistemology and ontology; the paradigmatic debates setting apart constructivism from positivism; and the theoretical underpinnings of critical interpretive approaches to academic research. The second section of the course will focus on the research design process, including topic ideation and conceptualization, and research question formulation. The course's third section concentrates on data collection. Here, students will become adept at implementing a diverse array of qualitative research methods, such as ethnography (including participant observation), discourse analysis, textual analysis, in-depth interviews, focus groups, and archival analysis. The fourth section of the course centers on data analysis.
Research Design (3 credit hours)
This course is designed to assist students with connecting the tools gained in their qualitative and quantitative methods courses with the design and implementation of research in the social sciences. What are the benefits and drawbacks associated with certain methodological tools? How should our research question influence which methods we choose to utilize? What inferences can we draw from the empirical results of our studies? Throughout this course, students will read and critically analyze social scientific studies while developing and diversifying their understanding of how the methods that are used fit within a broader research design.
Philosophy of Social Science (3 credit hours)
This course examines some of the key conceptual, theoretical, and methodological issues that arise in the course of the scientific study of social phenomena. The course will attempt to locate the place of social science among other forms of inquiry (including natural sciences and other fields of scientific and non-scientific study) in terms of scope, nature, aims, and methods. Drawing upon the experiences of different social sciences, a number of questions will be discussed, including: whether social sciences have distinct research methods that are not applicable elsewhere; whether (and why) it is possible to predict and/or explain social phenomena; whether social phenomena are law- vs. norm-governed; what role rationality and rational choice play in social life; and to what extent social sciences can be considered autonomous from each other and from natural sciences.
Modern and Contemporary Arab Thought (3 credit hours)
This course focuses on major issues in modern and contemporary Arab thought since the nahda (nineteenth century Arab renaissance). It invites students to critically discuss some of the main texts and debates that address these issues. It places them in the cultural, social, and political history of the region, from the colonial and mandate times of the early twentieth century, through to the first decades of the post-independence era, to the crises of the sixties (1967) and the establishment of oppressive regimes, up to the massive Arab revolts of the twenty-first century.
The course focuses on three major intellectual issues, namely, the Nahda, the rise and fall of ideologies, and the phenomenon of critique. Students in certain programs can take this course instead of Advanced Quantitative Research Methods at the discretion of the Board of Doctoral Studies in consultation with the Schools and Programs.
Topics and Issues in the Social Sciences and Humanities (3 credit hours)
This course aims to introduce students to a wide-ranging spectrum of scholarly topics and issues in the humanities and social sciences, such as race, gender, class, the Enlightenment, modernity, coloniality, imperialism, secularity, and sectarianism by examining their location in a multi-disciplinary context, including anthropology, economics, history, literature, mass media and mass culture.
The study plan for doctoral studies will consist of 60 credit hours as follows:
|Semester ||Course Title ||Credit Hours|
Advanced Quantitative Research Methods
|3 Credit Hours |
Advanced Qualitative Research Methods
|3 Credit Hours |
(It is possible (upon need) for students in History and Linguistics to replace the Advanced Quantitative Research Methods course with the following course:
Modern and Contemporary Arab Thought
3 Credit Hours
|Research Design||3 Credit Hours|
|Philosophy of Social Science||3 Credit Hours|
|Topics and Issues in the Humanities and Social Sciences||3 Credit Hours|
Semester 3 & 4
15 Credit Hours
Semesters 5, 6, 7, 8
Dissertation research, writing and defense
30 Credit Hours