Ohio University

Political Science Thesis & Comprehensive Exam

Options for Students in M.A. in Political Science

Thesis Option

The option of writing a master's thesis is available to students who wish to pursue in-depth research on a topic of interest. The thesis is written under the direction of the graduate thesis committee, which consists of a student's adviser and two other faculty members. A student may receive up to 6 hours credit for work on a thesis by registering for POLS 6950 - POLS Master's Thesis.

The student and thesis committee will develop a reading list related to the student's thesis topic. An oral defense is required; it includes not only the thesis itself but also the student's reading list and coursework.

Following a successful defense, the student must file a completed and approved copy with both the department and the College of Arts & Sciences before being cleared for graduation. The thesis must conform to the style and format specified by the College of Arts & Sciences.

Comprehensive Exam and Two Significant Papers Option

If a student chooses to earn an M.A. in Political Science without writing a thesis, he or she must submit one significant paper that demonstrate superior quality and the ability to carry out master's level research. The student also must pass a comprehensive written examination in his or her selected subfield.

The two research papers must approved by the student's exam committee. These papers are normally based on papers completed in Political Sciences courses, although they will typically require rewriting or expansion to meet the standards of a significant paper. At least one is expected to be in the student's subfield.

Students pursuing this option are expected to be familiar with a range of literature in their subfield as defined by the reading list for the subfield.

Comprehensive examinations are given once each fall and spring semester on a specific date. A student's exam questions are derived from the reading list for his or her subfield. The exam is prepared and graded by the student's examination committee; possible outcomes are high pass, pass, oral exam required, and fail. The decision of the committee must be unanimous. Candidates who fail the written examination in whole or in part can schedule one re-examination in the following term.