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Political Science Department|College of Arts & Sciences

The Master of Political Science Degree

Application Process  ·  Political Science Catalog  ·  Coursework  ·  Graduate Education

Overview of the Program

The M.A. in Political Science program provides students with an understanding of the theories and methods necessary for success in (1) research or college-level teaching in political science, (2) high school social science teaching, or (3) careers in policy analysis or administration in government or non-governmental organizations.

The undergraduate degree provides students with a broad knowledge of political science; graduate education is an opportunity for more focused study. M.A. students will earn most of their credits in courses sharing a common theme, such as a subfield of the discipline (American politics-administration, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, public law or methodology), a world region, policy in a particular issue area or a phase of political development. Courses from other departments may be taken with the approval of the student's advisory committee. For example, students interested in diplomacy could combine in the international relations subfield with courses in history.University Campus

The department offers both Plan A (thesis) and Plan B (non-thesis) options. Plan A is recommended for students planning to pursue a Ph.D. in political science.

Admission Information

To be considered for admission to the M.A. program, you must:

  • Possess a B.A./B.S. in political science or a cognate discipline (international studies, criminal justice, history, sociology or economics), including substantial undergraduate course work in political science.
  • Have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 (A=4.0)
  • Graduate Recored Exam (GRE) scores at or above the 60th percentile on the Verbal portion of the test and 40th percentile on the Quantitative portion 
  • Submit a one-page, typed statement describing your objectives in seeking the degree
  • Submit a writing sample of at least 10 pages, such as a paper prepared for an undergraduate class 
  • Arrange for official transcripts of all previous college work to be sent to UW Admissions. If you are a UW graduate, this requirement is waived.
  • Arrange for three letters of recommendations to be sent to the department by individuals knowledgeable about preparation and qualifications for graduate education.

Applicants from outside the United States must also demonstrate English language proficiency by a TOEFL minimum of 540 (Written), 207 (Computerized) or 76 (Internet-Based). The M.A. Admissions Committee may recommend provisional admission, including specific coursework to be completed, if a student's background in political science is deemed insufficient.

Degree Requirements

Plan A: Thesis Option

  • POLS 5680 "Research Methods for Political Science" (3 hours).
  • POLS 5684 "Empirical Analylsis for Public Administration" (3 hours).
  • POLS 5510 "Public Policy and Program Management" (3 hours).
  • POLS 5810 "Theories and Practices of Citizenship" (3 hours).
  • At least 15 hours of additional coursework of which at least twelve (6) are to be in political science with a maximum of nine (9) hours possible in course work in disciplines other than political science.
  • A master's thesis demonstrating independent research written under the supervision of the major professor. Enrollment for a minimum of four (4) thesis hours is required.
  • An oral examination conducted by the graduate committee covering all coursework and the thesis.

Plan B: Non-thesis Option

  • POLS 5680 "Research Methods for Political Science" (3 hours).
  • POLS 5684 "Empirical Analylsis for Public Administration" (3 hours).
  • POLS 5510 "Public Policy and Program Management" (3 hours).
  • POLS 5810 "Theories and Practices of Citizenship" (3 hours).
  • At least 24 hours of additional coursework of which at least twelve (6) are to be in political science with a maximum of twelve (12) hours possible in course work in disciplines other than political science.
  • A Plan B paper demonstrating independent research that reflects the quality but not the scope of a master's thesis, written under the supervision of the major professor.
  • An oral examination conducted by the graduate committee covering all coursework and the Plan B paper.

Program Goals and Learning Outcomes

  a) Acquire a specialized knowledge and understanding of politics, government, and/or public policy through a coherent program of   study.

  b) Acquire a knowledge of the theories and methodology necessary to evaluate conflicting arguments, assemble and present empirical evidence, and make reasoned conclusions from the evidence available.

  c) Communicate effectively, both orally and in written form.

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