The MA Degree

The Department of Political Science offers the M.A. degree in Political Science. The key strength of our M.A. program is that it emphasizes the development of skills necessary for conducting original research as opposed to merely training students as consumers of research.  Importantly, the course offerings are joint with our Ph.D. program.  Our M.A. program is thus ideally suited to students who are considering pursuing a Ph.D. at a later point.

There are two plans under which the master’s degree is administered. With rare exceptions the department operates under Plan II (Comprehensive Examination) in administering the master’s degree program. Under this plan, students must complete 36 units, of which at least 28 units must be in 200-level Political Science courses, including POSC 201 and POSC 202A. In addition, students must complete at least one course from at least three of the five fields offered by the department (see listing below). Up to 8 units of academic work in related fields may be approved by the graduate advisor as part of the 36 units.

Comprehensive Examination must be passed in one of the following fields:

  1. Comparative Politics Students must complete the core course, POSC 217, and at least one additional course in the field.
  2. International Relations Students must complete the core course, POSC 216, and at least one additional course in the field.
  3. American Politics Students must complete the core course, POSC 249, and at least one additional course in the field.
  4. Mass Political Behavior Students must complete the core course, either POSC 255, or POSC 256, and at least one additional course in the field.
  5. Political Theory Students must complete the core course, POSC 212, and at least one additional course in the field.

Permission to complete the M.A. program under Plan I (Thesis) is restricted to students who can demonstrate a readiness to undertake advanced independent research and who can identify a faculty member willing to supervise preparation of the thesis.

Click here for the course catalog, which lists the requirements for the MA degree.