Political Science has proven to be an ever-relevant and ever-changing field, built off of aspects of many disciplines and culminating in providing a critical lens in examining the world. Students who pursue a Master’s degree in Political Science may come from a variety of different academic backgrounds, but they all have the same goal.
Political Science graduate students are not only passionate about the real-life, aspects of the field, but eager to go in-depth on the theory, empirical methods, and research tools behind it. This can lead to exciting careers in public policy, international relations, education, law, and more. Many students elect to continue onto Doctor of Philosophy programs and then remain in academia or advanced research.
Options for Master of Arts degree in Political Science are plentiful, as the field has been a necessary form of analysis for the last few centuries. Universities have designed their Political Science graduate programs to prepare students with knowledge covering the entire breadth of the field, but with room for specialization. Graduates are also equipped with an understanding of research methods and the skills necessary to become leaders in the field.
As many MA programs are explicitly designed as Ph.D. preparation, it’s important to take note of those programs who do not admit students for terminal masters (there are a few listed in our ranking). Regardless of whether or not students opt for doctoral programs, earning a Master’s degree in Political Science is an important and bold step towards understanding the world with the knowledge and tools to influence it.
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Here are the 35 Best Master’s Degrees in Political Science!
The Master of Arts in Political Science from Stanford University is not a terminal degree; students are only admitted as doctoral candidates and will earn the MA in combination with the Ph.D., whether the Ph.D. is from Political Science or another field from Stanford. Similarly, Ph.D. candidates set on Political Science may elect to complete an MA in a related field instead. The MA in Political Science curriculum is made up of 45 credits and no required thesis. The offered concentration areas are International Relations, Comparative Politics, American Politics, Political Theory, and Political Methodology. Electives will vary based on the selected field, as will the core courses.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from Duke University prepares students for competitive Ph.D. programs. Students select two fields of concentrations, Political Behavior & Identities, Political Economy, and Security, Peace & Conflict. Admission is competitive, with only seven to ten students admitted each year. The 30-credit program allows for a thesis, but it's not required. Students have the option of graduating with a required foreign language competency, or one course in statistics or formal theory. The curriculum is centered not only around advanced knowledge in the empirical field but quantitative methods of research and theory.
Columbia University's Master of Arts in Political Science program gives students advanced training and knowledge the breadth of the discipline in combination with the tools necessary for research. The curriculum is made up of at least five courses in the Political Science department, and students are further expected to become experts in at least one of the major research tools: quantitative methods, formal modeling, and more. Graduates are prepared for both Ph.D. programs and employment upon graduation. Students are encouraged to select a concentration area, with options in American Politics, Comparative Politics, or International Relations.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin is only available to students accepted to the Doctor of Philosophy program at UW. Once admitted, students earn their master's degree through work en route to the Ph.D. The MA consists of at least 30 credits and requires courses in Empirical Methods of Political Inquiry and Statistical Methodology. These courses and selected electives are designed to prepare students in a variety of diverse subfields in the discourse, research methods, theory and historical context, and ethics of the field. As the program is designed en route to the Ph.D., there is no formal examination or thesis required.
The Master of Arts in Political Science program from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is only open to those enrolled in the Ph.D. program. The 32-credit program requires both maintenance of at least a 3.0 GPA and a master's paper, whether or not that paper is fulfilled by a thesis or research project. The graduate program is highly selective. The small cohort size ensures that students benefit from individualized support of the faculty. All students receive financial aid and often participate in published research projects. Core coursework covers tools of inquiry, research methods, and the breadth of theory. Concentration areas, where electives may be drawn from, are offered in American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Methodology, or Political Theory.
Michigan State University's Master of Arts in Political Science is a 30-credit program that does not require or accommodate a thesis. Rather, students complete two substantial research papers prior to graduation. Students have the option of completing a majority of their coursework in Political Science, but some credits may be fulfilled by coursework in exterior yet related disciplines. The curriculum is designed specifically to prepare students for doctoral studies, also offered by Michigan State. In the combination of the MA and Ph.D. in Political Science from Michigan State, students are prepared with skills in research, teaching, and professionalization. They graduate equipped with foundational and advanced knowledge of all aspects of the field.
Texas A&M University designed their Master of Arts in Political Science program to prepare students with a broad understanding of the breadth of political science, focusing on research and creativity. Students have the option of completing a thesis, and if they opt out will take a comprehensive examination and complete 36 credits of coursework rather than 30. The curriculum provides opportunities to study Political Science alongside faculty who are interdisciplinarily trained, in topics such as Women's and Gender Studies or International Studies. Core courses cover the foundations of the field such as Quantitative Political Analysis, Conceptualization and Theory in Political Analysis, and Research Methods.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from The University of Iowa designed their program for those dedicated to earning a Ph.D. from UI, and only applicants with that intention are typically admitted. The 30-credit program does not require a thesis, but students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.25. After the first year of the program, students are evaluated for their research and writing skills. If they've proven to be adequate, they'll proceed into the doctoral program. Core courses prepare students in research methodologies, theoretical, and formal mathematical models. Electives cover topics like Comparative Politics, The Presidency, Problems in America, Problems in Political Theory, and more.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of California at Riverside is grounded in preparing students with the skills and tools necessary to not just analyze and work with established research, but conduct original projects themselves. The course of study is designed to benefit those in pursuit of a doctoral degree, as some of the course offerings are joint with UC Riverside's Ph.D. program. Students will select a subfield to focus on, which they will be tested on prior to graduation: Comparative Politics, International Relations, American Politics, Mass Political Behavior, and Political Theory. Some students may elect to complete a master's thesis as well.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from Arizona State University is dedicated to providing students with the opportunity for supportive and stimulating mentorship. Recent incoming cohorts have been less than five students, which has allowed faculty to be readily available and attentive in guiding students through original research and individualized study. The curriculum is focused on a strong foundation in methodologies, theory, and practical aspects of the discourse in preparation for research. Course topics include Ancient Political Theory, International Relations, Comparative Politics, Polimetrics, and more, depending on which focus area is chosen. The offered focus areas are American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory.
The University of North Carolina's Master of Arts in Political Science program is competitive and designed for those dedicated to pursuing doctoral degrees after graduation. The curriculum is focused on the development of the tools, skills, and knowledge necessary for students to conduct original research and fulfill professional political duties. All students will complete a thesis and examination. Courses cover the breadth of the discipline, with topics like Political Economy; Race, Immigration, and Urban Politics; and Advanced Political Psychology. Students will select a major and a minor subfield within the curriculum, from the available International Relations; Comparative Politics; Political Theory, American Politics, Methodology, and Public Policy and Administration.
University of Georgia's Master of Arts in Political Science & International Affairs is designed for those eager to intensely study the breadth of politics, but are also looking to develop analytical skills. While students are not required to select a specialization area, the offerings are International Relations, Comparative Politics, American Politics, or Political Theory. Students also have the option of completing a thesis, or an article-length seminar paper in conjunction with an exam. Once completing coursework in research methods and theory, students take electives covering topics like Problems in Democratic Thought: Social Justice. The program should take about two years for completion, and most graduates continue onto Ph.D. programs. Net Price: $15,934.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from Rutgers University equips students with the critical thinking and communication skills necessary to participate and evoke change in a democratic society. Graduates from the program are prepared for a variety of jobs, especially given the program's opportunities for internships. Designed with working students in mind, courses are offered once a week in the evenings. The 30-credit curriculum has two specialization options: The American Political System, or International Relations. Elective courses also cover topics like political theory, comparative politics, and research methodology. There's also a Concentration in Women and Gender Studies, which can be earned separately from the specialization area.
Purdue University's Master of Arts in Political Science is designed to be explicitly earned in preparation for the Ph.D. in Political Science from Purdue. However, the department recognizes that many who begin in the MA program will not wish to continue into Ph.D. studies. After completing the MA level coursework and examinations, each student will be evaluated by faculty to determine whether or not they should pursue the doctoral degree. Part of the examination is on students' specialization area, selected from the offered American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Public Policy. MA coursework includes topics like Women, Politics, Public Policy; Black Political Participation; International Organization; and more.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from Binghamton University is designed for either student in pursuit of doctoral degrees, or those hoping to enter the professional field post-graduation. The curriculum is centered around two convictions about the discipline: political science requires specialization, and that the social sciences will, in the near future, rely on systematic evidence and quantitative analysis. Coursework is subsequently focused on theory and empirical analysis, preparing students for individualized research. Students are also required to specialize in an area, a decision made with the support of faculty members. Faculty research areas that often influence student's focus areas include human rights, political parties, and religion and politics.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from Boston College is a 30-credit program that students are expected to earn in two years. The curriculum] prepares students with practical and theoretical knowledge of all aspects of Political Science. Rather than selecting a specific concentration area, students complete at least one course in three of the four offered fields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Policy, and Political Theory. However, students who opt out of completing a thesis will be tested in two subfields in a comprehensive exam. After completing core courses, the remaining electives can be fulfilled by both classes in the Political Science department and other related ones.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a one-year program, created for students ready to become proficient in applied research. The curriculum is specifically designed for those in pursuit of career opportunities in government, business, and public policy after graduation. The intensive program emphasizes holistic preparation in a single field of study from the offered areas: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Models and Methods, Political Economy, and Security Studies. All students must complete and defend a thesis, and maintain at least a 3.5 GPA in all coursework to be eligible for graduation.
The University of Houston's Master of Arts in Political Science program offers students four concentration areas: American Politics, Comparative Politics, Political Analysis, and Political Theory. All students are required to complete either a Master's thesis or a Bibliographic Essay before being awarded the degree. Core courses are focused on research methods and subsequent statistics, and then students continue onto more specialized coursework within their concentration. These electives may include Middle Eastern Politics, Ancient and Medieval Political Thought, Liberalism and Its Critics, and Contemporary Political Theory. The degree can be completed in two years, but at a part-time pace, it may take up to four.
The Master of Arts in Political Science program at the University of North Texas is designed for those interested in academic careers or professional careers in public and private sectors. The 30-credit degree is awarded not only after coursework completion but if students satisfactorily complete an oral defense of their thesis or take a written Field Exam. All students must complete two focus areas exterior to the required core courses, selecting from the following areas: American Government and Public Law; Comparative Government and Politics; International Relations; Political Theory; and Methodology. The degree can be earned at a part-time pace but must be completed within six years.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Rochester is not a terminal degree program and is earned en route to the Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science. The department prides itself on offering the most rigorous, technical, and mathematical training program within any political science department of the world. This is made up of advanced courses in formal theory and statistical methods. Classes at the MA level include Linear Models, Positive Political Theory, and Mathematical Modeling. The curriculum within the MA program and subsequent Ph.D. covers all technical tools necessary for contemporary political science. Students specialize in an area, either American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, or Political Philosophy.
The University of Texas at Dallas designed their Master of Arts in Political Science program to prepare students for immediate post-graduation employment in public service, government, non-profit, business, or legislative affairs. The curriculum is focused on empirical approaches to understanding data and interpreting theory. Students select one of three concentration areas: Comparative Politics and International Relations; Political Institutions and American Politics; or Law and Courts. The 30-credit program requires coursework in methodology and quantitative methods or statistics. Electives then offer exposure to topics such as Empirical Democratic Theory, Human Rights and International Law, Public Choice, and Law and Development.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from the University at Buffalo is a 30-credit program that requires students to complete either a master's thesis or a research project and paper. Core coursework is centered on research methods and formal political inquiry, and students then go onto taking courses from the offered focus areas: Comparative Politics, International Politics, American Politics, or Public Law. To ensure students will gain an interdisciplinary lens, there are three courses can be taken outside the department, with approval. Buffalo is one of the few universities in the US to offer a joint MA/JD program for those in pursuit of careers in law.
George Mason University's Master of Arts in Political Science is designed to prepare students for immediate employment in a variety of political fields, teaching, and research. The curriculum consists of four core courses focused on theory and fundamental aspects of the field, such as Comparative Politics and International Relations. From there, students can concentrate in one of four areas: International Security, American Government and Politics, Comparative Politics, and International Relations. A majority of coursework will be completed in the chosen concentration area. All students will complete either a research project or a thesis before graduation.
The University of Kansas designed their Master of Arts in Political Science program for those eager to pursue their own research, publish independent papers, and potentially win fellowships and awards. By the time of graduation, many students are teaching their own classes. The curriculum emphasizes the importance of being able to teach through informed pedagogies, and so students are competitive candidates for employment after graduation. Students complete two required courses in research before taking electives within the department. Completing a thesis is optional, but those who elect not to will complete a minimum of two research courses and a comprehensive exam.
Northeastern University's Master of Arts in Political Science program trains students in the core areas of the discourse: American Government, International Relations, Comparative Politics, Security Studies, and Public Policy. Graduates are prepared for both doctoral programs or careers in government, non-profits, or the private sector. The program is designed to take one year at a full-time pace. The curriculum is focused on theory and research and provides students with opportunities for internships, individualized analysis with directed study, or completion of a research thesis. Elective courses will vary based on concentration. Some courses are offered online, but a majority will be completed on campus.
The Master of Arts in Political Science offered by the University of Illinois is a 34-credit program consisting of foundational courses involving theory, research, and data analysis. Concentration areas are provided interdepartmentally; students may specialize in Gender and Women's Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Survey Research Methodology, or Violence Studies. These options were designed to ensure an interdisciplinary and encompassing approach can be taken towards certain aspects of Political Science. There is no thesis or formal project outline available to students, but the independent research will culminate into a major paper.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Nebraska is a 36 credit program with five available concentration areas: Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Water Resources Planning and Management, and Women's and Gender Studies. Students in the program should be passionate and ready to participate in research, article work, and potentially present at conferences, often collaboratively with renowned faculty members. The curriculum takes on an interdisciplinary approach to Political Science, offering courses and opportunities in conjunction with other departments on campus. A thesis option is available and recommended to those pursuing doctoral studies, but not required.
The Master of Arts in Political Science program from The University of Oklahoma prepares students for work in competitive doctoral programs, as secondary school teachers, or for opportunities that would utilize skills and knowledge in government and politics. The curriculum is rooted in a robust theoretical foundation and then builds up to equip students with research skills and methodologies. There are specialization areas offered in American Politics, Comparative Government, International Relations, Public Administration, Public Policy, Political Theory, and Political Methodology. The program is designed to be completed in two years, as most students in the program study full-time.
The University of Missouri designed their Master of Arts in Political Science program to prepare students for successful careers immediately upon graduation, or further original research in competitive doctoral programs. Those who plan on continuing their studies after the MA will be required to complete a master's thesis, consisting of an original research project and a comprehensive oral exam. The 30-credit program has a generalist curriculum covering the breadth of the field, but students select courses from major fields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Public Policy. Students will have the opportunity to work alongside faculty in their research and benefit from small and intensive seminars with a dedicated cohort.
The Master of Arts in Political Science program from the University of Utah is a minimum of 30 credits, 21 of which must be completed within the department but the remaining can be fulfilled with coursework from others. This ensures that students can study the discourse interdisciplinarily. All students must complete two foundational courses in theory and research, as well as fulfill the university's requirement of one language at standard proficiency. Students will select a major field, which serves as a concentration area. The offered areas are American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, or Public Administration.
American University's Master of Arts in Political Science program gives students the benefit of working in the state capitol, providing opportunities to lead in political campaigns, on Capitol Hill, in non-profits, or consulting firms. Students may go onto doctoral programs post-graduation, but the curriculum is designed to prepare graduates for immediate employment as leading political practitioners. Available concentration areas are American Politics, Comparative Politics, and Applied Politics. All students complete two courses in Research Methods and then fulfill credits by taking classes within their concentration area. This can include The Presidency and the Executive Branch; Political Violence in Comparative Perspective; and Women and Political Leadership.
The Master of Arts in Political Science from The University of New Mexico introduces students to the entire breadth of the discipline, with a focus on research methodologies. Students are encouraged to conduct original research, but the completion of thesis options. Those in the program must complete pro-seminars in at least three different concentration areas from the offered five: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Public Policy, and Methodology. The curriculum only has two required foundational courses. Students then fulfill the degree requirements with electives taught by faculty in specializing in the US and Global Health Policy; Gender, Race and Ethnic Politics; Latino Politics and Health Policy; and more. Admissions are selective, with about 35 students admitted each year.
Georgia State University designed their Master of Arts in Political Science program to prepare students with a deep foundation in political science in their pursuit of postgraduate careers or doctoral programs. The MA is heavily centered on student's independent research, and internship opportunities are abundant and readily available. Students select one of four concentration areas: General Political Science, American Politics, International and Comparative Politics, or Public Law. Graduate assistantships are available for funding opportunities. The courses must be completed entirely in-person, but an online version of the program designed for K-12 Educators, and an online MA in Professional Politics.
Temple University's Master of Arts in Political Science program is designed specifically to prepare students for careers in academia, and most admitted students intending to pursue a Ph.D. The degree must be earned in three years, with courses offered after 3:00 p.m. to accommodate working students. The particular strengths of the program are American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory, all of which have greater goals for their related courses. Students complete three core courses and then move onto electives, with available topics like Campaigns, Elections, and Media; Politics of Race and Class in America; Community Based Research; and Critique of American Government.
The Master of Arts in Political Science program at the University of Albany can be earned either a terminal degree or as the first portion of a Doctor of Philosophy. The 32-credit degree is centered around a core of data and research courses in preparation for a Ph.D. After completing the required courses, students take 20 credits of electives. Elective courses include topics like Citizen Participation and Public Policy; Community Politics; U.S. Housing Policy; Women and Politics; and Health and Human Rights. Before graduation, all students complete a capstone, which is fulfilled either by a major research project or a portfolio of shorter works.
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