Political Science, MA

At a Glance: program details

Craft a program that meets your individual interests within subfields of the discipline. Enjoy a low student-to-faculty ratio as you receive a rigorous introduction to graduate study in political science.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: MA Political Science

The MA program in political science offers a variety of areas of specialization within and between the four main subfields of political science --- American politics, comparative politics, international relations and political theory --- with particular strengths in ethnoreligious dynamics, women and politics, political violence, human rights, political psychology, political economy and Latino politics.*

Faculty are also active in collaborative interdisciplinary research at ASU and with scholars at other universities; many have won major grants and awards. The school is host to the Future Security Initiative, the Center for Latina/os and American Politics Research and an experimental lab. Faculty are also affiliated with other centers at ASU, such as the Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab, the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies, as well as the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty.

This Master of Arts program may be taken as a terminal program or as a step toward eventual fulfillment of the requirements for the doctorate. Students who plan to obtain the doctorate at ASU should apply directly to the doctoral program.

*Students interested in a political theory specialization should consult with the academic unit prior to application.

Degree Requirements

Curriculum Plan Options

  • 30 credit hours and a portfolio
  • 30 credit hours and a thesis

Required Core Course (3 credit hours)
POS 503 Empirical Political Inquiry (3)

Other Requirements (6 credit hours)
focus area course (3)
POS 603 Polimetrics I or second focus area course for political theory (3)

Electives (15 or 21 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (0 or 6 credit hours)
POS 599 Thesis (6) or
portfolio (0)

Additional Curriculum Information
Students who select the thesis option must submit a written thesis and hold an oral defense. Students who select the portfolio option must submit a written paper and hold an oral defense.

The course POS 603 Polimetrics I may be substituted with permission of both the director of Graduate studies and the faculty advisor. Students in the political theory focus area take a second focus area course instead of POS 603.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in any field from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. personal statement
  4. writing sample
  5. three letters of recommendation
  6. list of political science courses taken
  7. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency.

The personal statement should be one to three pages and should describe the areas of political science the applicant wishes to study, post-graduation goals and why the School of Politics and Global Studies is the best fit for the applicant. Applicants may also mention any faculty members with whom they are interested in working and why, as well as provide context for any discrepancies in their educational background.

The writing sample is typically a research paper or other similar paper that demonstrates the applicant's critical thinking and writing skills in political science or a related field. There is no length requirement for the writing sample, but it should be a sufficient length for the admissions committee to evaluate the applicant's knowledge and skills.

To assist in evaluating all candidates, the applicant should list titles and related information for all previous undergraduate and graduate courses or coursework in political science or related fields. The file must be saved in a .pdf, .doc, .rtf or .txt format and uploaded with the online graduate admission application. The information should be in a table with the following column headings: Course Title, Undergrad Credit Hours, Graduate Credit Hours, Grade, Institution, Year.

Undergraduate coursework in political science is not a prerequisite for admission. However, master's degree students should have a basic understanding of elementary statistics and the undergraduate content of the political science fields of concentration that they wish to study. Students should allow sufficient time to acquire such a background.

Courses and Electives

  1. All candidates must take POS 503 and the core courses in the student's major field.
  2. A maximum of six credit hours in approved courses may be taken outside the department.
  3. Six credit hours of reading and conferences (POS 590) or independent study (POS 592) may count toward the 30 credit hour requirement.
  4. Additional hours must be taken in graduate-level courses and seminars each semester until coursework is completed.

POS 503 - Empirical Political Inquiry

Research methods and techniques of the discipline, emphasizing empirical foundations and analytic methods employed in subfields.

If your field is American Politics:

  • POS 603 - Polimetrics I
  • POS 530 - American Politics
  • Two electives in American Politics

If you field is Comparative Politics:

  • POS 603 - Polimetrics I
  • POS 550 - Comparative Politics
  • Two electives in Comparative Politics

If your field is International Relations:

  • POS 560 - International Relations
  • POS 603 - Polimetrics I
  • Two electives in International Relations

POS 599 – thesis option

Students selecting the Portfolio option will complete the 30 required credits through elective courses in addition to POS 503 and major degree requirements.

Flexible Degree Options

Accelerated program options

This program allows students to obtain both a bachelor's and master's degree in as little as five years.
It is offered as an accelerated bachelor's and master's degree with:

BS - Political Science

Interested in politics and public issues in the United States and abroad? See yourself heading to law school, working on political campaigns or as a diplomat? Springboard your education in preparation for a wide variety of careers, both inside and outside of government.

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BS - Politics and the Economy

Would you like a deeper understanding of political and economic problems in the global context? You can gain a solid foundation in both economics and political science while using quantitative analysis and modeling to learn how you can make a difference in addressing important world issues.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

BA - Global Studies

Study how cultures, economics, institutions and social issues shape our increasingly globalized world. Through a global experience or an internationally focused internship, you'll put your learning to work as you help to address current challenges.

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BA - Political Science

Interested in politics and public issues in the United States and abroad? See yourself heading to law school, working on political campaigns or serving as a diplomat? Springboard your education in preparation for a wide variety of careers, both inside and outside government.

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

Acceptance to the graduate program requires a separate application. During their junior year, eligible students will be advised by their academic departments to apply.

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Application Deadlines



Session A/C
In Person
April 1st

Career Opportunities

Graduates are prepared for research or applied careers in political science in government, nonprofits and the private sector. Career examples include:

  • campaign consultant
  • campaign strategist
  • data analyst
  • lobbyist
  • research specialist

Program Contact Information

If you have questions related to admission, please click here to request information and an admission specialist will reach out to you directly. For questions regarding faculty or courses, please use the contact information below.