Graduate Program

The Division of Political Science offers programs leading to both a master of arts (M.A.) and a master of science (M.S.) degree. The master's program has a strong academic orientation. Through an immersion in political science scholarship, student are prepared for careers in the public or private sector that call for analytical acumen and clarity in written and oral communication. The Division also participates in the Public Affairs and Policy Ph.D. Program.

Admission requirements

Political Science M.A./M.S.

Political Science M.A./M.S.


Master's degree students concentrate their coursework in two of four fields of concentration in political science: American politics, international relations, comparative politics, political theory. Coursework also prepares students for their two comprehensive field examinations. Coursework is distributed as follows:

Required Coures (10 Credits)

PS 503Thesis


PS 593Philosophy of the Social Sciences


Five courses in each of two fields of concentration (40 credits)

Minimum of two 500-level seminars

Maximum of one approved non-political science course

PS 595Research Methods for Political Science


Total Credit Hours:50


**PS 595 is only required for the M.S. Degree

In order to count toward fulfillment of master's degree requirements, courses must be passed with a grade of B- or above. M.A. students must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language. Those who have not had at least two years of college-level instruction in a foreign language must pass an examination in one foreign language, administered by the Department of World Languages and Literatures.


Field Examinations

Field exams are taken in both fields of concentration. Each tests the student's comprehension of that field, as encompassed by the student’s coursework. The student's field advisors provide information about the format of the exam, the material it will cover, and the expectations for satisfactory performance. Students are encouraged to take their field exams toward the end of the term in which they will complete their coursework for the degree, or very soon thereafter (usually fall or winter term of the second year).


The final requirement for the degree is the master's thesis—an original investigation that demonstrates mastery of a topic in political science and the ability to communicate this understanding to an audience of one's peers. The thesis topic is chosen in consultation with the student's thesis advisors. The thesis is defended in an oral presentation that lays out the purpose, implementation, and findings of the project, and makes a case for its contribution to political science scholarship.