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The Master of Arts in Political Science

Course Requirements for the Master’s 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 Master’s 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 applicant’s qualifications to pursue the master’s 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 student.

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 master’s degree program plan. The graduate advisory committee works with the student in the development of the student’s master’s 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 student’s master’s degree program plan.
2. Graduate advisory committee approval of the student’s 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 student’s 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 not acceptable).
(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 student’s 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 student’s file.
(e) Not more than 9 units of Independent Study (POLS 398) and Master’s Thesis (POLS 399); not more than 6 units of Master’s Thesis (POLS 399).
(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 Thought:
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 student’s 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 student’s graduate advisory committee.
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 study’s 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, Master’s 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 candidate’s 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 date.

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 fields.
3) Grading: Each examination shall be graded as honors, pass, or fail.
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 for specifics.

Grading Requirements:

All courses in the major (with the exceptions of Independent Study-398, and Master’s Thesis-399, or Master’s 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 master’s 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.