Hotspots for political science

Interested in a career in politics or one in civil services? Or do you want to study political science purely out of an innate interest? HT Horizons tells you all about the best places you should be studying at
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Updated on Jan 27, 2011 09:23 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByRahat Bano, New Delhi

Academic excellence is not the sole preserve of one or two institutions in Delhi. There are some gems scattered across the far reaches of India.

We asked two senior political scientists which, in their view, are the top-notch hubs for bachelor’s, master’s and research programmes in political science in Delhi, India and the rest of the world.

Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University were expected, but what Delhiites may not know is that the University of Hyderabad’s (UoH) political science department is eminently noteworthy.

The experts are Neera Chandhoke, professor, department of political science, University of Delhi and Valerian Rodrigues, professor, centre for political studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, involved in faculty recruitment in many universities.

Chandhoke counted the UoH department as among India’s best — along with those of Punjab University, University of Delhi and JNU — for their “creative syllabi construction, focus on students, insistence on research and charting out new areas which should be taken up for research.”

In most of the cases, it was mostly the quality of educators that made them go up or down. Take JNU. “It has great strengths, though it has weaknesses, as well,” says Rodrigues. “The faculty is uniformly excellent.” Besides, he says, they draw students from all over India. “Some of the brightest learners come from different parts of the world. We have an interactive environment (read: inter-disciplinary approach). Political science is taught in several schools and centres of the university. One can choose to study it in any of them. The faculty has international exposure,” he says.

The UoH department’s strengths include the faculty size — 21 members. So, you have people with different specialisations. “In a short span of time, it has had some iconic teachers such as Rajen Harshe, former vice chancellor, Allahabad University; Shantha Sinha, Ramon Magsaysay awardee for community leadership and chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights; and human rights activist G Haragopal,” says Rodrigues.

Also, UoH boasts of a frequently-refreshed curriculum. “Course outlines will be changed almost every semester by the faculty,” says I Ramabrahmam, head, department of political science, UoH. “Updating of the curriculum is a constant process in the department,” he says.

In Delhi University, according to Rodrigues, the quality of their faculty at the moment is “very good. They have inducted several young teachers who have international exposure,” he says.

The University of Calcutta department came up for some praise on account of their activism and research in certain fields. “It is overall good. At least 50% to 60% of its faculty is uniformly good. The faculty has done extremely good research, particularly about zones without democracies (Maoist areas), and on the Left movement, says Rodrigues, adding, “The literary tradition of Bengal has helped them reach out to the larger society. Many members of the faculty are activist-teachers, associated with advocacy platforms. They have championed human rights in a very comprehensive manner.”

Coming to the University of Pune, apart from having “some very good teachers” in the discipline, its location is quite an advantage. “Pune is a good catchment area for teaching talent as well as students. Also, Pune is a sort of a cultural capital of Maharashtra and students bring their cultural tradition to bear on their studies,” says Rodrigues.

Panjab University’s “is a consistently very good department. The faculty is good, with fairly good students.” And it does focus on research, he says.

The well-known Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, made it to Rodrigues’ list due to its large faculty and some fresh blood. “Recently they recruited some bright teachers who are conscious about their strengths as well as weaknesses and may strengthen the department.”

As regards undergraduate colleges in Delhi, the experts pronounced Lady Shri Ram College for Women (or LSR) as one of the best. Chandhoke put her finger on all the colleges she mentioned due to their quality teachers and the way they communicate the syllabus (which though is the same across Delhi University colleges) to students and generate interest. At the JNU centre, about 15 of the annual intake of 65-70 students are LSR graduates.

Rodrigues also mentioned a few institutes who hold some promise, including Orissa’s Ravenshaw University (earlier called Ravenshaw College) and Utkal University. Consider them as part of the ‘longlist’. Before it became a university in 2006, the University Grants Commission had tagged Ravenshaw, Cuttack, as a College with Potential for Excellence. The college’s alumni include former rulers, and chief ministers of the state. Bhubaneswar-based Utkal University’s department is “pretty good,” adds Rodrigues. In addition, the new department at Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, a Central institution in Lucknow, too, can become a strong centre for political science in north India. “They have taken in top people, who have good exposure,” says Rodrigues.

Experts’ Take on the best institutions in india and abroad

Two senior political scientists share their list of top-notch hubs for bachelor’s, master’s and research programmes in political science in Delhi, across India and the rest of the world

Neera Chandhoke, professor, Department of Political Science, Delhi University, lists the best Indian institutions

Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
Started in the early 1970s

Panjab University, Chandigarh
Started in 1882 (in Lahore)

University of Delhi
Started in 1922

University of Hyderabad
Started in 1974

Delhi colleges
Lady Shri Ram College for Women
Started in 1956

Hindu College
Started in 1899

Sri Venkateswara College
Started in 1961

Valerian Rodrigues, professor, Center for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, lists the best Indian and international institutions

Indian universities

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

University of Delhi

University of Hyderabad

University of Calcutta

Started in 1857

University of Pune

Started in 1948

Panjab University

Banaras Hindu University,


Started in 1916

Delhi colleges

Lady Shri Ram College


Sri Venkateswara

Gargi College

Started in 1967

Indraprastha College

Started in 1924

Miranda House

Started in 1948

Institutions worldwide

For political theory/political philosophy and comparative politics

Harvard, United States of America
Established in 1636
Harvard does not offer a standalone master’s degree, but awards the MA in political science to PhD candidates on the way to their final degrees. Its renowned John F Kennedy School of Government runs masters’ programmes in public policy, public administration/ international development, joint degrees, PhDs, among others.
More details on and

Oxford, United Kingdom
No known date of birth but teaching took place in some form in 1096
Oxford offers MSc in political theory research and MSc in politics research, and other degrees.
Applicants are normally required to be graduates in politics, international relations or a related discipline with a first- or upper second-class honours or its international equivalent.
More details on

Columbia, United States
Established in 1754 as King’s College
Columbia offers MA in political science - both free-standing and with a PhD, and other programmes.

The applicant needs to submit a resume/CV, writing sample, GRE General and TOEFL/IELTS scores, among other documents.
More details on

Heidelberg, Germany
Established in 1386
Heidelberg University offers a graduate programme in political science (taught in German and English). The basic eligibility requirement is a three-year bachelor’s degree in political science/some other social science.
More details on

Sciences Po, Paris
Its origin dates back to 1871 when Émile Boutmy founded the École Libre des Sciences Politiques.
Paris-based Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, popular as Sciences Po, is a selective institution with seven campuses. It boasts a diverse student body, 42% of whom are international. It offers 20 masters’ and five PhD programmes in variety of specialisations.

Yale, United States
Its origin dates back to 1640s.
Yale offers a graduate programme leading to a PhD in political science.
It asks for the GRE General Test and TOEFL scores, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement and transcripts, along with the application.
More details on

University of California, Berkeley, USA
The idea of a university in California was born in the mid-19th century. The “seat of learning” came into being about two decades later by a merger of two colleges.
Berkeley’s political science department takes in students only for the PhD degree (no MA for non-PhD students). The applicant needs to apply with three recommendation letters, GRE General Test and TOEFL/IELTS scores, a personal history statement and a statement of purpose, transcripts and other documents. More details on

For international relations
London School of Economics
Founded in 1895
The London School of Economics (LSE) offers a wide range of masters’, PhD and other programmes. The entry requirements depend on the programme applied for.

Generally, in addition to English language proficiency, LSE looks for a first or upper second class honours degree from a UK university or a non-UK equivalent in a discipline relevant to the chosen master’s programme. For an MPhil or PhD, it normally requires a UK taught master’s degree with merit or a non-UK equivalent in a subject appropriate to the research to be undertaken. More details on
Oxford, UK
Stanford, US
Opened in 1891
Stanford offers a PhD programme in political science, for which, along with the application, it requires a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, GRE and TOEFL scores and a scholarly writing sample. It does not award a terminal master’s degree. More details on

For public policy
National University of Singapore
Established in 1905 as a small medical college
National University of Singaore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy runs masters’ (by coursework) in public administration, public management and public policy as well as PhD and other programmes.
More details on
Other institutions mentioned above are good for public policy as well.

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