The MA Program

The department does not have a regular M.A. program and does not accept applications for that degree.  Most students interested in the study of political science at the graduate level are admitted to the Ph.D. program. The Graduate Program in Political Science does, however, admit a few students who wish to enroll in the MA Program for Professionals and the BA/MA program. We also will award an M.A. to a PhD student who requests it and has completed all the requirements for the PhD except the dissertation.

Please be aware that you must be registered as a student during any semester
during which you complete any degree requirements.  This means that you have
to pay continuing student fees for that semester even if you are not
registered for classes

The Three MA Programs

The BA/MA Program
This program is intended for outstanding students (see the GPA requirements in the undergraduate section of this bulletin) who wish to pursue intensive study in a specialized area of political and social science beyond the level of the BA. Students must apply for admission into this program before March 1 of their junior year (SEE THE UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM FOR MORE DETAILS ON APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS.) The work of a BA/MA candidate will be reviewed at the end of the first and second semesters following the student’s admission to the program. The reviewers will include the BA/MA Program Advisor and those professors with whom the student has worked. This committee will decide, after consultation with the student, whether the student shall continue in the BA/MA Program or be required to stop at the BA level.

Master’s Program for Professionals
Individuals employed in a professional career in a related social science or enrolled in a related social science, legal, or public affairs program may apply for an MA in Political Science through the Master’s Program for Professionals. Degree requirements for Professionals are the same as those for the BA/MA program (see below) except that a policy paper written under the supervision of a faculty member replaces the comprehensive examination.

Post-Qualifier Master’s Degree
Post-BA Ph.D. students who have successfully completed all the requirements for a Ph.D. except the dissertation may request that a Master’s degree be granted to validate the work accomplished.  Master’s candidates will be expected to complete the required number of courses and either (a) develop a Capstone project or (b) take the comprehensive exam.

The MA Comprehensive Examinations

(applicable only to BA/MA program)
The MA comprehensive examination consists of three written examinations in a major field, minor field, and subfield. At least one of the two professors in the major field on an MA examination committee must be a full-time professor in the Graduate Faculty of Political Science. Students are expected to write analytical answers that show a critical familiarity with both the literature and key problems or issues in the discipline.

These exams are taken upon completion of all coursework.  BA/MA students will not be allowed to take the MA exams in the spring semester if they have incompletes from previous semesters.  They cannot be taken without the approval of the Director of the BA/MA Program. Students should contact the Graduate Director to inform her of the comprehensive exam field choices at least two months prior to the exams.  They are also responsible for contacting the faculty that will serve as their examiners to discuss preparations for the exam. We highly recommend that you plan ahead in taking courses with the faculty member you want to write and grade your exams.  Faculty members you have not taken courses with are less likely to agree to write and grade an exam for you.  BA/MA students wishing to graduate in May are also advised that Incompletes from the spring semester will make them liable for continuing student fees (at present about $2,755) for the following summer.  BA/MA students may take these exams during the last week of May to avoid incurring any continuing student fees.  The next opportunity to take the exams is in October.  Students taking the exams in October will have to pay continuing student fees for the Fall semester.  Students taking the BA/MA exam in May will officially receive their degrees in September but will be permitted to “walk through” commencement exercises in May.  Students taking their exams in October will receive their degrees in January. In either case, we can provide a “letter of completion” stating that all degree requirements have been met if you need one to apply for another program of graduate study or other purpose.

Written examinations should be picked up by students between 9-9:30 AM in the departmental offices and returned no later than 2:00 PM of the same day. The examinations will be taken in the department under closed book conditions supervised by the staff and are designed to cover 2-3 hours of actual writing time.

In order to pass the comprehensive examination a student must have passed all three written examinations. Students who fail the comprehensive examinations are permitted to take them one more time. The new examination should be scheduled no less than three months and no more than one year after the original examination. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the prospective members of the exam committee, schedule the exams, and keep the Graduate Program Coordinator informed of his or her progress.