Political Science (MA)

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Master of Arts in Political Science (POLSMA)
Unit: College of Arts and Sciences (GA)
Department: Political Science

Program Information

The Department of Political Science, in the College of Arts and Sciences, offers graduate training leading to the Master of Arts degree. In addition, the Department participates in a joint degree program with the Brandeis School of Law.

The MA is designed to allow a student to pursue a degree either full or part time. Most graduate-level courses are offered in the evening. The MA is oriented toward those who wish to pursue advanced training in political science or a position in the public, private, or non-profit sector.


Accelerated BA-BS/MA

The Department of Political Science also offers its undergraduate majors an opportunity to earn both a BA (or BS) degree and an MA degree at an accelerated pace.  This program allows students to complete one semester (9 credit hours) of graduate coursework while enrolled as undergraduate students.  Typically, students finish their MA degrees within three semesters of completing their undergraduate degrees.

Applicants must meet the general requirements for admission to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies and must submit an application to the Department of Political Science. Applicants should have an undergraduate major or minor in social science or have sufficient alternative preparation in the social sciences.


Joint MA/JD Program

The Department of Political Science offers a joint MA/JD program in partnership with the Brandeis School of Law. This program allows the student to obtain the MA and JD degrees in a four-year course of study. For additional information, see the law school website.

Admission Requirements

Admission into the MA program is competitive. The procedures for admission into the MA program are as follows:

  1. Submit a completed graduate application and application fee to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, Graduate Admissions.  Application for admission must be made by July 15 for the Fall semester and November 15 for the Spring semester.
  2. Forward official transcripts verifying the receipt of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, Graduate Admissions. An applicant must hold a BA or BS (or foreign equivalent) before admission to the program can be granted. Applicants selected for the program have generally earned a 3.0 undergraduate GPA overall or a 3.2 undergraduate GPA in the last 60 credit hours or the equivalent.
  3. Send scores from the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, Graduate Admissions. The GRE is designed to measure general aptitude for graduate study. Successful applicants selected for the program generally present a Verbal score of at least 153, a Quantitative score of at least 144, and an Analytical score of at least 4.0.
  4. Provide two letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant's academic performance. Professional letters from employers are acceptable only when a substantial time has elapsed since the applicant has attended an academic institution.
  5. A written personal statement is required. This statement should detail the applicant's educational and professional experiences and goals and relate these goals to the pursuit of graduate study in political science at the University of Louisville. The statement should be approximately 400-500 words in length.
  6. International applicants are required to take the TOEFL examination if English is not the native language. Applicants who have not scored 550 or higher on the TOEFL may choose to apply to the Intensive English as a Second Language (IESL) Program. Successful completion of this program or passing the Exit Examination in the advanced level of IESL will be considered adequate proof of the English proficiency required for course work in the MA program.

The Department may accept applicants who do not meet these requirements on a conditional basis if sufficient additional evidence of promise of success in the graduate program can be shown. No student will be admitted unconditionally until all materials listed above have been received.

You may apply to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, Graduate Admissions online at louisville.edu/graduate/apply.

Program Requirements

Students are encouraged to take advantage of the unique strengths of the Department of Political Science when planning their course of study. In particular, the Department enjoys strong complements of faculty in three areas: International Studies, American Politics, and Digital Politics.

The International Studies field includes the comparative study of various regions and nations throughout the world as well as the study of relations among nations and other global actors. Areas of faculty expertise include the politics of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, East Asia, Europe, and the former Soviet Union, development, political economy, revolution, leadership, environment, civil-military relations, foreign policy, defense and security, international organizations, and international law.

The American Politics field includes the study of the American governmental institutions that formulate public policy and the study of the administration of public policy. Areas of faculty expertise include the presidency, Congress, the judiciary, federalism, public administration, public law, the electoral process, social policy, housing policy, urban policy, environmental policy, and economic development policy.

The Digital Politics field focuses on the intersection of information technology and politics and includes an applied component, providing students with training and experiences useful to their career pursuits. Areas of study include e-government initiatives, social media advocacy and narrative strategies for non-profit organizations, and online political campaigns.

Students may select from one of three options for their graduate studies: 1) the general MA in Political Science (thesis), 2) the general MA in Political Science (non-thesis), or 3) the MA in Political Science with a concentration in Digital Politics (non-thesis). The curriculum for these options is described below.

Thesis Option

POLS 670Research Design3
POLS 671Introduction to Data Analysis3
POLS 619Seminar in Public Policy3
POLS 629Seminar in American Politics3
POLS 639Seminar in International Relations3
POLS 649Seminar in Comparative Politics3
Electives *6
POLS 699Thesis Guidance6
Minimum Total Hours30

Non-Thesis Option

POLS 670Research Design3
POLS 671Introduction to Data Analysis3
POLS 619Seminar in Public Policy3
POLS 629Seminar in American Politics3
POLS 639Seminar in International Relations3
POLS 649Seminar in Comparative Politics3
Electives **15
POLS 695Directed Research3
Minimum Total Hours36

Non-Thesis Option with a Concentration in Digital Politics

POLS 670Research Design3
POLS 671Introduction to Data Analysis3
POLS 619Seminar in Public Policy3
POLS 629Seminar in American Politics3
POLS 639Seminar in International Relations3
POLS 649Seminar in Comparative Politics3
Digital Politics Courses 19
Topics in Digital Politics (Public Policy)
Topics in Digital Politics (American Politics)
Topics in Digital Politics (Global Politics)
Electives 26
POLS 692Independent Study II3
Minimum Total Hours36