The Political Science department offers programs leading to the master of arts (M.A.), master of public administration (M.P.A.), and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees. Much more detailed information relating to the degrees offered by the Department of Political Science is contained in the Graduate Handbook. Students and prospective students should consult these as well as this catalog.

Master of Arts

Admission Requirements

Applicants for admission to the M.A. program must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination general test. Additional information is in the “Academic Policies” section of this catalog.

Degree Requirements

Plans I and II. M.A. students may follow either Plan I, requiring students to complete 27 credit hours of course work, 6 credit hours of PSC 599 Thesis Research, a written comprehensive examination in their major field, a thesis, and a final oral examination of the thesis.; or Plan II, requiring 33 hours of coursework and a written comprehensive examination.

Comprehensive examination. The written comprehensive examination will cover the student’s major field and will require integration of material across courses in the field.

Thesis. After passing the written examination, a student following Plan I should prepare a thesis prospectus, which should describe the substance and methods of the thesis research, outline the thesis itself, and provide a preliminary bibliography. Once the prospectus has been approved, the chairperson will formally appoint a committee of three faculty members to supervise the thesis. The student must submit four copies of the completed thesis and must take a final oral examination to defend it and show competence in the field in which it lies. Except in unusual circumstances, the final oral examination must be taken during the fall or spring semester and before final course examinations begin. After the examination, the student must deposit two copies of the approved thesis with the Graduate School and two copies with the department.

Master of Public Administration

Admission Requirements

The M.P.A. is a professional degree program designed primarily for those who plan a career in federal, state, or local government. Applicants for admission to the M.P.A. program must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination general test. Scores from the Miller Analogies Test may be submitted as supplementary information, but not as a substitute for the GRE. Additional information is in the “Academic Policies” section of this catalog.

Degree Requirements

Students are required to complete 39 semester hours of coursework.  The 39 hours is subdivided as follows: 21 hours of public policy and administration core courses, 6 hours of public policy and administration electives, and 9 hours of general electives if a 3 hour internship is completed and 12 hours of general electives if an internship is not completed.  An internship is required for all pre-service students.  In addition to the 39 hours of coursework, students must pass a Portfolio Project.

Core Requirements: 21 Hours in Public Policy and Administration

Students are required to take each of the courses from the following lists.


PSC 565-Survey of Public Administration

PSC 562 Public Personnel

PSC 664 Public Policy Analysis

PSC 662-Leading & Managing Public Organizations

PSC 667-Public Budgeting

PSC 663 Program Evaluation

PSC 522 Quantitative Methods

Public Policy and Administration Electives Requirements: 6 hours


Students must take at least two electives from the following Public Policy and Administration courses:

PSC 561-Administrative Regulation-

PSC 621-Quantitative Methods II

PSC 663-Selected Problems in Public Administration

PSC 665-Local Government Administration

PSC 666-Political Economy and Public Policy


With permission from the MPA director, some of the Public Policy and Administration elective courses can be used to fulfill the Core Requirements.  That means students will have to take 6 hours of additional courses from the public policy and administration electives.  Students can also use courses outside of the ones listed above to fulfill both the core and elective requirements.  Similarly, permission from the MPA director is required.


All newly admitted students should enroll in Survey of Public Administration (PSC 565) as soon as possible. This course provides students with an overview of the general field of public administration and an introduction to the subfields of public administration.


General Electives

Students are required to take 9 to 12 hours of general electives, depending on whether one completes a 3-hour internship.  Electives can be taken in the Department of Political Science or any other department offering a course relevant to public administration. Students are encouraged to enroll in elective courses within a broad cross section of courses that will enhance their skills. Although a list of approved electives is provided below, students interested in taking courses not on this list may do so with approval of the MPA director.

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements Admission to the Ph.D. program requires either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. Applicants must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination general test. All students admitted to the Ph.D. program without a master’s degree will be required to undergo an evaluation of their progress in the program by the Graduate Studies Committee after the completion of 27 hours in residence.

Degree Requirements

Major and minor fields. Ph.D. students must choose and develop competence in one major and two minor fields. The fields the department offers are American politics, comparative politics, international relations, public policy and administration, and political theory. In exceptional cases, a student may choose one minor field outside the department, with special permission from the graduate studies committee.

Course requirements. Ph.D. students must complete at least 51 hours of graduate coursework. Up to 25 hours may be transferred from other institutions, with the permission of the graduate studies committee. At least 18 hours must be taken within the student’s major field, at least 12 hours must be taken within the student’s second field, and at least 9 hours must be taken in a third field.

Students must take the core seminars in their major and minor fields. The core seminars are PSC 610 Core Seminar in American Politics, PSC 631 Seminar in Comparative Politics, PSC 642 Concepts and Theories of International Relations, PSC 651 Political Theory Seminar, and PSC 565 Survey of Public Administration.

In addition, all students must complete 9 hours of methods courses, including PSC 521 Research Design, PSC 522 Quantitative Methods in Political Science I, and either PSC 621 Quantitative Methods in Political Science II or PSC 622 Seminar in Political Science Methodology.

Students interested in pursuing a topic in greater depth than the standard course offerings allow may take up to 12 hours of PSC 595 Directed Reading and PSC 598 Individual Research, with up to 6 hours in any one field.

Language requirement. A foreign language is required of Ph.D. students if appropriate to the student’s research interests. The appropriateness of the foreign language requirement shall be determined by the relevant faculty in the student’s primary field of interest prior to the student’s completion of 18 hours in residence in the Ph.D. program. Students may, with approval of the Graduate Studies Committee, substitute foreign language for the PSC 621 requirement. 

Comprehensive examination. Before writing a dissertation, but only after completing at least two full years of graduate study and satisfying all coursework, Ph.D. students must take and pass written and oral comprehensive examinations in their major and secondary fields. These will be given during fall and spring semesters only.

Candidacy. Students who have fulfilled the course requirements and passed the comprehensive examination become Ph.D. candidates.

Dissertation. Students must complete no less than 24 hours of dissertation credit (699). As soon as possible after satisfying the requirements for candidacy, each student should submit three copies of a dissertation prospectus to the department chairperson, who will establish a dissertation committee of five faculty members, with at least three from the Department of Political Science and at least one from another department. The prospectus should contain the same information as an MA thesis prospectus (see above). 
The department chairperson will decide whether to approve the prospectus, on the recommendation of the dissertation committee. Once the prospectus has been approved, the student may begin work on the dissertation itself, under the supervision of his or her dissertation committee. When finished, the student must take a final oral examination to defend the dissertation and demonstrate competence in the field in which it lies. The examination, conducted by the dissertation committee, must ordinarily be held during the fall or spring semester. Following a successful defense, the student must submit the thesis electronically in accordance with procedures laid out in this Catalog.

A complete course listing can be found in the graduate catalog.