The Master of Arts in Political Science
Course Requirements for the Masters Degree: 30 units
Continuous enrollment is required. A maximum of 6 semester units
of transfer credit may be applied toward the degree.
Graduate Time Limit: All requirements for the degree are
to be completed within five years of the end of the semester of
enrollment in the oldest course applied toward the degree. See Graduate Education in The University Catalog for complete details
on general degree requirements.
Prerequisites for Admission to Conditionally Classified Status:
1. Satisfactory grade point average as specified in Admission to Masters Degree Programs in The University Catalog.
2. Approval by the department and the Office of Graduate Programs.
3. An acceptable baccalaureate in Political or Social Science
from an accredited institution, or an equivalent approved by the Office
of Graduate Programs.
All new students enter as conditionally classified graduate students.
When the Department of Political Science has doubts about the applicants
qualifications to pursue the masters degree program (because
of grade point deficiencies or other reasons), the student may be
encouraged to seek admission as an unclassified student at the Office
of Graduate Programs. This gives the student a trial period to demonstrate
ability. Normally, a decision to admit the unclassified student
to conditionally classified status in political science will be
made after completion of at least 9 approved units as an unclassified
Conditionally classified students are expected to make no grade
lower than a B-, and finish all course work (no Incomplete
or Satisfactory Progress).
Prerequisites for Admission to Classified Status:
In addition to any requirements listed above:
1. Completion of a minimum of 9 units of graduate study as a conditionally
classified student, including a graduate seminar.
2. Completion as an undergraduate or post-graduate of the prerequisite
courses in Political Inquiry (POLS 131 or equivalent) and 3 units
in Political Theory.
3. Completion as an undergraduate or post-graduate of the prerequisite
course in Political Science Research Methods (POLS 221 or equivalent).
The student may complete this requirement by taking POLS 331 as
an elective in her/his graduate program.
4. Formation of a graduate advisory committee. This should be done
as early as possible and in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator.
Generally, no more than 15 units will be counted toward the graduate
degree program in Political Science taken before the formation of
the graduate committee. Exceptions to this rule may be granted
only by the full Department Graduate Committee.Where the student
has selected the Comprehensive Examination Plan, the graduate advisory
committee must be chosen from the list of faculty assigned to the
examination fields of study. If the student selects the Thesis Plan,
at least two of the three faculty members on the committee, including
the chair, must be chosen from the Political Science Department.
Note: These committees (i.e., Comprehensive or Thesis Plan Committees)
will be responsible for all guidance of the student through the
completion of the degree.
5. Development of an approved masters degree program plan.
The graduate advisory committee works with the student in the development
of the students masters degree program plan. The plan
must be approved by the graduate advisory committee, the Graduate
Coordinator, and the Office of Graduate Programs.
Advancement to Candidacy:
In addition to any requirements listed above:
1. Completion of at least 18 units of the students masters
degree program plan.
2. Graduate advisory committee approval of the students thesis
proposal or the two study fields in which examinations will be taken.
3. A minimum grade point average of 3.0.
Requirements for the MA Degree in Political Science:
Completion of all requirements as established by the department
graduate committee, the graduate advisory committee, and the Office
of Graduate Programs, to include:
1. Completion of an approved program consisting of 30 units of
200/300-level courses as follows:
(a) At least 24 units in the discipline of political science.
(b) At least 18 units required for the degree in 300-level courses
in political science or in a social science approved by the students
graduate advisory committee.
(c) Not more than 6 semester units of transfer and/or extension
credit (correspondence courses and U.C. extension course work are
(d) Not more than 3 units of internship course work and only if
the student has a GPA of 3.2 or better and the students graduate
committee or the Graduate Coordinator agrees that the internship
is a meaningful educational experience. Approval requires a letter
to that effect which must be entered in the students file.
(e) Not more than 9 units of Independent Study (POLS 398) and Masters
Thesis (POLS 399); not more than 6 units of Masters Thesis
(f) Students are required to take a minimum of 9 units from each
of two study fields, including at least one graduate seminar from
each study field. There are five study fields:
i) Constitution Law and Judicial Politics:
POLS 251A, POLS 251B, POLS 253, POLS 259, and POLS 351.
ii) American Political Institutions & American Political
POLS 222, POLS 231, POLS 232, POLS 236, POLS 237, POLS 300, POLS
302, POLS 321, POLS 323, POLS 324, POLS 326, POLS 327, POLS 332,
POLS 371, POLS 372, and POLS 373.
iii) International Relations:
POLS 246D, POLS 246F, POLS 247, POLS 248, POLS 249, POLS 298, POLS
311, and POLS 341.
iv) Public Policy and Public Affairs:
POLS 261, POLS 271A, POLS 271B, POLS 323, POLS 326, POLS 360C, POLS
364, POLS 367, and POLS 368, POLS 372, and POLS 373.
v) State and Local Government:
POLS 202, POLS 203, POLS 260C, POLS 301, POLS 323, and POLS 326.
Other relevant 200-level courses may be taken with the permission
of the Graduate Coordinator. Students are encouraged to take
additional courses in study fields in which they elect to be examined.
2. Completion and final approval of one of the following, as specified
by the students graduate advisory committee:
a. Thesis Plan
The candidate shall submit an acceptable thesis based upon research
developed by the student and agreed to by the students graduate
1) Thesis Proposal: A proposal (prospectus or detailed outline)
of the thesis must be submitted to and approved by the graduate
advisory committee before the student begins the thesis. The proposal
includes at least a statement of the problem or hypothesis, the
basic research methods to be employed, justification of the studys
value, and estimated time of completion. The proposal is a formal
document which must have appropriate attention given matters of
format, documentation, and quality of writing.
2) Registration in POLS 399, Masters Thesis: The student should
register for POLS 399 no earlier than the second semester in the
program and in accordance with his/her thesis plan. However, it
is advisable that the student complete most of the program course
work before registering for POLS 399.
3) Approval of Thesis: The thesis shall be approved by all three
members of the graduate advisory committee.
4) Oral Defense: A required oral defense of the thesis shall be
conducted by the candidates graduate advisory committee. Interested
faculty members may attend. The oral defense is generally limited
to matters within the scope of the thesis. The candidate may repeat
the defense one time if failed by the committee on the first attempt.
The time and date of the defense must be noted in print and circulated
to the Office of Graduate Programs at least one week prior to the
b. Comprehensive Examination Plan
1) Written Comprehensive Examinations: The candidate shall complete
and pass four-hour written examinations in each of two study fields
in which she/he has chosen to be examined.
2) Preparation and Evaluation of Comprehensive Examinations:
A two-member committee shall be chosen each year by the Graduate
Coordinator to write and read exams for each of the approved study
3) Grading: Each examination shall be graded as honors, pass, or
4) Repeating Written Examinations: Both examinations must be passed.
The candidate may repeat each of the examinations once.
c. Choice of Thesis or Comprehensive Examination Plan:
In deciding which of these two plans to choose, students who are
considering graduate work beyond the MA or who have a research interest
are advised to choose the Thesis Plan. The Comprehensive Examination
Plan should be chosen by those for whom the MA will be a terminal
degree, who want more course work, who plan to teach elementary
or high school, or who have less interest in research.
3. Approval by the departmental graduate committee and the Graduate
Coordinators Committee on behalf of the faculty of the university.
Graduate Literacy Requirement:
Writing proficiency is a graduation requirement.
Political Science graduate students will demonstrate their writing
competence through the first seminar in which they enroll. The instructor
of that seminar will certify for the Graduate Coordinator that the
student has met the requirement. Consult with the Graduate Coordinator
All courses in the major (with the exceptions of Independent Study-398,
and Masters Thesis-399, or Masters Project-399) must
be taken for a letter grade, except those courses specified by the
department as ABC/No Credit or Credit/No Credit grading only. A
maximum of 10 units of Credit/No Credit grades may be used on the
approved program (including 398, 399, and courses outside the major).
Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average in all course
work on the approved masters degree program as well as in
all course work taken subsequent to admission to conditionally classified
status. In addition, no course in which a grade lower than B-is
earned will be counted toward the fulfillment of any graduate degree
requirements with the following exceptions:
POLS 221A or POLS 221 and the 3 units in the area of Political
Theory, or their equivalents, when taken as an undergraduate and/or
not as part of the approved program.
Graduate Advising Requirement:
Advising is mandatory each semester for all Political Science
MA students. Consult with the Graduate Coordinator for specifics.