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Political Science M.A.

Program Overview

  • Internships
  • Thesis Option
  • Preparation for law school and doctoral programs
  • Preparation for careers in public and non-profit sectors

The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Political Science provides students of a variety of goals and backgrounds with a rigorous and flexible course of study, an accessible faculty with diverse interests and experiences, and excellent facilities for research and study.

Expected time to degree with full-time enrollment is four semesters.

The department offers a variety of courses at the graduate level, including seminars in the scope and theory of political science, research methods in the discipline, and seminars in five areas of concentration:

  • American Government
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Political Theory
  • Politics and Law

This breadth allows graduate students, in consultation with an adviser, to construct a program that fits their particular needs and provides students the opportunity to explore various post-graduate career options while strengthening their analytical, research, and writing skills.

Through this combination of rigorous academic training, the flexibility to specialize and develop expertise in their areas of interest, and the opportunity to work closely with faculty known for the research and teaching excellence, the M.A. in Political Science prepares students for entry to law schools and doctoral programs in political science; for working for political campaigns, interest groups, non-profits, and policy think tanks; and for entry-level local, state, and federal legislative and bureaucratic positions.

Concentrations (optional): Students can concentrate in American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, and Politics and Law.

Electives and Internships: Remaining credit hours can be acquired through a combination of Political Science electives and courses in a student's specialization, including approved internships. The program also offers students either a thesis or non-thesis option as alternative routes to completing their degrees.

Thesis Option: The thesis option provides students the opportunity to pursue a substantial research project in their area of specialization and work closely with faculty. The non-thesis option gives students the opportunity to demonstrate depth and breadth of knowledge in their area of specialization by taking a comprehensive written examination and submitting two substantial research papers.

Career and Professional Opportunities

The M.A. program prepares students for entry to law schools and doctoral programs in political science; for working with political campaigns, interest groups, non-profit organizations and policy think tanks; and for positions in local, state, and federal legislative and bureaucratic offices.

A number of Political Science graduates have gone on to attend leading law schools and graduate programs in political science, and others have secured professional positions in government public affairs and the private sector.

Degree Requirements

The M.A. in Political Science program requires a minimum of 58 semester hours of graduate-level credit at the 5000 and 6000 level. Up to 8 hours of credit may be taken in a related discipline or transferred from another graduate program with the approval of the graduate director.

Required Courses

(26 credits, including seminars)

  • POLS 6000 Scope and Theory in Political Science: All M.A. students must take POLS 6000 Scope and Theory in Political Science. This course is offered each fall semester, and registration in POLS 6000 is a prerequisite for further coursework.
  • POLS 6010 Quantitative Research Methods: All M.A. students must take POLS 6010 Quantitative Research Methods, which is offered each spring semester. In addition, all students are required to take three 6000-level subfield seminars, with one 6000-level seminar in their selected subfield.
  • ELIP 5140
  • ELIP 5160
  • Seminar in area of concentration from POLS 6100, 6300, 6500, 6600, or 6700
  • Two additional seminars in areas of concentration

Additional Coursework

  • POLS Specialization Courses (16 credits)
  • POLS Electives (8 credits)

Beyond the 15 hours of required coursework, students are free to choose courses that interest them and make sense in terms of their program of study. At least half of the hours, including the one required 6000-level seminar in the subfield, must be within a student's selected subfield of study. No more than 8 credit hours of Independent Study, 4 credit hours of Internship, and 8 Thesis credit hours can be counted toward fulfillment of M.A. degree requirements. No more than 16 credit hours of non-classroom courses can be counted toward fulfillment of the M.A. degree. (This includes Research, Thesis, Internship, and Independent study hours.)

An M.A. Thesis or Comprehensive Exam

If a student chooses to complete an M.A. thesis, he or she can take up to 8 hours of thesis credit. The student may have no more than 12 total hours of non-classroom courses including independent study, research, thesis or internship credit.

For students who are on a campus but not enrolled in a regular course during the semester in which they take a comprehensive examination, defend a thesis, or complete any graduation requirement, the university requires that a student enroll for at least one credit hour. General requirements of the Graduate College, such as the maintenance of a 3.0 average, are outlined in the graduate catalog.

The comprehensive exam option requires one submitted research paper.

Program requirements are subject to change. Please consult the Graduate Director for current program requirements.

Program Mission

The M.A. program in Political Science seeks to instill a lifelong commitment to learning, to advance diversity and human understanding, and empower students to meet their responsibilities as citizens, leaders, and professional political analysts in a democratic society and interdependent world. Students are trained in the theories and methodologies needed to evaluate and conduct research that is fundamental, theoretical, and applied.

Program Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Explain how a variety of political systems operate.
  • Identify honest and ethical research practices.
  • Identify, apply and interpret appropriate research methods and theories to investigate a variety of political and social phenomena.
  • Identify an area of concentration for in-depth study, and analyze a variety of political and social phenomena in their selected area.
  • Evaluate, critique, and synthesize scholarship in their selected area of concentration.
  • Conduct original research that investigates political or social phenomena in their area of concentration using appropriate methodologies and theories.
  • Communicate their original research effectively to the scholarly community.