Graduate Degree Programs
Graduate Program Overview
The M.A. program is a learning environment in which applicants may further develop their interests in exploring ideas and abilities to think critically. The structure of the program encourages scholarly inquiry and intellectual growth across a range of political themes. Upon completing an M.A., it is anticipated that the majority of students will enter careers in public service or for private organizations with greater analytical and critical faculties while some students will continue on with graduate work.
The doctoral program in Political Science encourages the development of broad understandings of political phenomena. It is an intellectual environment that seeks students with previously demonstrated abilities to develop further the creative and analytical skills necessary for thinking critically, conducting research, and providing original scholarship. It is a fertile environment for students who bring a wide variety of backgrounds to the study of politics and who have the competence to initiate their own investigations and to work independently. The Department, in emphasizing a problem–solving and critical perspective, expects, that students enrich their knowledge of and proficiency in several traditional elements of the discipline.
Timeline for Completion
While both M.A. and Ph.D. students are given up to seven years from their admission into the program to complete the degree, the department strongly encourages Master's students to complete the program in no more than two years and doctoral students to complete their work in no more than four. If a student cannot complete the required work within seven years they face dismissal from the program. Each year, progress towards the degree must be demonstrated. Furthermore, students must be registered for at least one credit hour every semester while in the program (excluding summers) or request an official leave of absence to avoid being dropped from the program. All degree candidates must be enrolled during the term in which the degree is awarded.
M.A. Plan A
The course requirements for the Master's Plan A is detailed on the Master's Plan A Advising form. This form should be filled out as the student progresses through the program. All master's candidates are required to take a total of 30 units, of which 9 credit hours (3 courses) must be from POLS 610, 620, 630, 640, 650, 660, 670, and 680, and one graduate seminar must be from POLS 700–798. There is no language requirement, through students may decide that language study is relevant to their work. Students who write a master's thesis (Plan A) must register for 6 to 12 hours of thesis research, POLS 700.
Students seeking a Master's Plan A will need to write a brief proposal, create a committee, and defend their thesis. The committee must include at least two members of the department and will guide the student from the proposal writing stages through the defense of the thesis. Upon completion of the thesis, the student must orally defend their work. It is the policy of the department that these defenses are public and a public announcement must accompany the defense.
M.A. Plan B
The course requirements for the Master's Plan B is detailed on the Master's Plan B Advising form. This form should be filled out as the student progresses through the program. All master's candidates are required to take a total of 30 units, of which 9 credit hours (3 courses) must be from POLS 610, 620, 630, 640, 650, 660, 670, and 680, and one graduate seminar must be from POLS 700–798. Additional courses to total 30 credit hours must be taken from remaining graduate courses. There is no language requirement, though students may decide that language study is relevant to their work.
The Culminating Experience
Students entering the Master's non–thesis (Plan B) are required to complete a Culminating Experience consisting of a colloquium presented to the department. This colloquium will be the culmination of a research project or paper that may have been begun in class, but is of sufficient quality to be presented at an academic conference. The Culminating Experience is to be scheduled and publicized by the student working in coordination with the department's current Colloquium Coordinator.
The student is to form a committee of three political science faculty members who will evaluate the presentation. These faculty members are to indicate their approval through a signed note on the candidate's M.A. Plan B Advising Form. The department has agreed that the six–credit internship is an appropriate Culminating Experience for Master's candidates in the Alternative Futures Specialization who do not write a thesis.
Ph.D. in Political Science
Students in the Ph.D. program are required to take three semesters of full–time work, but there are no specific requirements for the relevant coursework. Instead, appropriate course work is to be determined by the student with input from her or his advisor. Students are strongly advised to take POLS 600 and 601 upon entry into the program and are further urged to take three of the core courses (POLS 610, 620, 630, 640, 650, 660, 670, and 680) if they have not taken these or their equivalents at the master's level.
After an agreed upon amount of course work, the student seeks a faculty member to serve as the dissertation committee chair and prepares a dissertation proposal. Each student must also construct a committee that includes at least three members of the department and one external member. While the order in which they occur may vary, each student must write and defend a dissertation proposal and take and pass comprehensive examinations. The dissertation chair will establish a work plan for the proposal defense and comprehensive exams.
The student's committee designs a comprehensive examination based upon the dissertation proposal and the general fields within which the dissertation will be situated. Committee members will provide two questions for the student, the committee chair will collect these questions and on the agreed upon date, the student will be given the questions. Each student will have a full week to write answers and return the questions to the committee. Each member of the committee will read all the answers but only indicate if the student passes their specific question. With successful completion of the comprehensive examination, the student is advanced to candidacy and proceeds to the writing of the dissertation.
Upon completion of the dissertation, the student must convene their committee for a public oral defense. This defense generally will include a presentation by the student regarding their work. This presentation should be modeled after a conference presentation or job talk and should present the work not only to the committee, but to the public audience who has come to view the defense. The defense will also include an opportunity for members of the committee as well as the audience to ask questions of the candidate. Once the candidate has presented and the question and answer period is over, the committee will meet privately to determine the results of the defense.
After the defense, the committee may request final revisions prior to the document being formally submitted to graduate division. It is advisable to leave sufficient time for these revisions between the defense of the dissertation and the end of the semester. The program is only completed when the student successfully completes a public oral defense of the dissertation, the dissertation is accepted by the student's doctoral committee, and the dissertation is submitted and accepted by the Graduate Division of the University.