The “Math Prefresher” and the Collective Future of Political Science Graduate Training

The “Math Prefresher” and the Collective Future of Political Science Graduate Training

By Gary King, Shiro Kuriwaki, Yon Soo Park, Harvard University

The political science math prefresher arose a quarter-century ago and has now spread to many of our discipline’s PhD programs. Incoming students arrive for graduate school a few weeks early for ungraded instruction in math, statistics, and computer science as they relate to political science. The prefresher’s benefits, however, go beyond its technical content: it opens pathways to mastering methods necessary for political science research, facilitates connections among peers, and—perhaps most important—eases the transition to the increasingly collaborative nature of graduate work. The prefresher also shows how faculty across a highly diverse discipline have worked together to train the next generation. We review this program and advance its collaborative aspects by building infrastructure to share teaching content across universities so that separate programs can build on one another’s work and improve all of our programs.