Degree Options

PhD in Political Science

Doctoral students identify a primary and a secondary field among four areas of study offered in the Political Science:

  • American Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Public Policy and Administration

The PhD program of study consists of 45 hours of graduate course work, including:

  • 12 hours in a primary field of study
  • 9 hours in a secondary field of study
  • 13 hours in methodology

Up to 24 hours of courses from a student's master's program may be counted toward the doctoral degree, at the discretion of the student's doctoral committee. The doctoral degree requires a minimum of 72 hours of course credit including reading and research hours.

Students typically take comprehensive exams in the spring of the third year. After passing the comprehensive examination, students work on independent research and a dissertation under the advisement of a doctoral committee.

MA in Defense and Strategic Studies

The MA in Defense and Strategic Studies program focuses on an important area of study centered on understanding political and military strategy, concerned with topics such as military power and effectiveness, intelligence, diplomacy, and deterrence. The program is designed for US military officers and the civilian workforce in industries, government agencies, and think tanks related to international relations and national security programs and policy. The MA in Defense and Strategic Studies program requires 30 credit hours, and it is offered entirely online. Full-time students with transfer credit for military schooling should be able to complete the program in one year, while part-time students will be able to complete the program in two years. A series of 8000-level courses serve as the core of the program, while 7000-level courses are offered as electives. We allow 12 hours of transfer credit to current or former US military officers who are in or have previously completed Intermediate Level Education (ILE) at the US Army Command and General Staff School, US Navy College of Naval Command and Staff, US Air Force Air Command and Staff College, US Marine Corps Command and Staff College, or Joint Forces Staff College.

MA in Political Science

The MA in Political Science is a 30 hour generalist program. Master's students take a core series of methods courses (seven hours) and at least eighteen hours of graduate seminars from among our major fields:

  • American Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Public Policy and Administration

During the second semester, a student selects an advisor who chairs a three-person faculty committee, which guides the student, reads the master's thesis or paper, and conducts an oral examination in the student's final semester.

The thesis option requires students to prepare an original research project in political science, to write a thesis (for up to six hours of credit in PS 8090), and to successfully pass a comprehensive oral examination covering the thesis and course work. The non-thesis option also requires students to write a final research paper (for up to three hours credit in PS 8085), and the non-thesis paper is often an expanded version of a paper the student prepared in a research seminar during the master's program. This decision to write a master's paper will be jointly decided upon by the student, the advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. The master's paper is not as extensive or demanding as a master's thesis, and generally runs from 50 to 60 pages. A student who wishes to continue graduate study and pursue a doctoral degree must complete a master's thesis. Completion of a master's thesis, however, is not in itself a guarantee of admission to the doctoral program.

The student's M.A. committee will consider whether the master's candidate should be allowed to continue doctoral work and report its recommendation to the Director of Graduate Studies. A favorable recommendation and satisfactory completion of the master's thesis and all other course work for the MA will in most cases be sufficient for admission to the doctoral program. The Department of Political Science also offers a Master of Arts with an emphasis in Public Policy. Interested applicants should contact the Director of Graduate Studies for more information on this option.

Contact: 

Student Support Specialist
Jacob Owen