MA IN POLITICAL SCIENCE
The Master's Program in Political Science offers a wide range of courses in American and international politics, comparative politics and political philosophy. The courses permit students to explore the key issues in contemporary domestic and international politics from both a substantive/policy perspective as well as a scholarly/theoretical perspective. Our program is ideal for students considering PhD programs, preparing for law school, or interested in careers in applied fields such a government service, journalism, the non-profit sector, foreign service or secondary education.
Our faculty is committed to our students' development throughout their course of study. Students will find our diverse faculty offer a variety of philosophical, pedagogical and theoretical approaches to politics and boast a wide range of scholarly interests.
All courses are small, discussion based seminars with average enrollment of 15 students. Courses are exclusively offered at night and during the summer.
Master's Research Track in Political Science
Students interested in going on to a PhD program have the option of selecting courses from our research track. Students can sign up for independent study research (three credits) to pursue collaborative research with a faculty member. This option is useful for students who would like to pursue co-authoring with a faculty supervisor. Students would first need to identify a faculty mentor to supervise their work. The terms and expectations for the research paper are at the discretion of the faculty supervisor. Students can also sign up for independent study research (three credits) to expand a research paper that they began in one of their previous graduate seminars. The goal of this opportunity is to allow students to polish one of their seminar papers to submit for an academic conference or publication outlet. Students will continue to work with the same faculty mentor that supervised the original research paper. Lastly, students can sign up for three credits for independent study research to work as a research assistant for the faculty member during the summer. This allows qualified graduate students to gain experience as a research assistant if there is sufficient demand from the faculty members during the summer months, Students can complete a maximum of three credits of independent research, and these courses are graded pass/fail.
Our degree program also provides opportunities for students to take courses in statistical analysis, public administration and GIS mapping software. Students interested in advanced quantitative methodologies can enroll in MPA 8199, or other courses in the Department of Public Administration or the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Students interested in Advance Mapping Software can enroll in GEV 7040, Intro in GIS.
REQUIREMENTS AND CAPSTONE OPTIONS
Students must complete 30 credits (10 courses) and a capstone experience to earn a master's degree in Political science. All students must complete the required PSC 7000, Research Concepts and Approaches, which outlines the concepts, theories and methods used in political science research. Additionally, each student must complete one course in America Government, one course in either International Relations or Comparative Politics, and one course in Political Theory/Philosophy. The remaining six courses can be drawn from any sub-field of political science.
Students may take up to six graduate-level credits (normally, two courses) from other departments that will count toward the Political Science MA degree. Many of our students have taken one or two graduate courses in History, Philosophy, Public Administration, Applied Statistics or Theology as part of their Political Science MA. We encourage students who are interested in working in public policy or policy research to take at least one course in statistics, although this is not a requirement for the Political Science MA degree. Students who are interested in pursuing a PhD in any social science discipline should also take at least one course in statistics.
Beyond these general guidelines, the Political Science graduate program will help students to customize a plan of study that is best suited to their interests and career aspirations. The graduate director works with students to plan their course selection in accordance with their career goals. Students will find that Villanova's diverse faculty members offer a variety of philosophical, pedagogical and theoretical approaches to the study of politics, and boast a wide range of scholarly interests.
All MA students are required to pass a written qualifying exam in the semester of their fifth course. The qualifying exam enable us to assess each student’s ability to integrate material from two or more courses, and to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of key concepts, theories and methodological approaches used in political science research. Each student must answer one general question, and one additional question in American Government, Comparative Politics or International Relations. Students should provide a written essay of approximately 10 double-spaced pages for each answer.
The capstone experience for the MA degree is a comprehensive written exam that students take in their final semester.
Written Exam Option
Students who do not write an MA thesis are required to complete ten courses (for 30 credits) and pass a written comprehensive written exam after completing their coursework. The written comprehensive exam follows the same format as the qualifying exam that students take after their fifth course. Consequently, each student must answer ONE general question, and ONE additional question in American Government, Comparative Politics or International Relations. A written essay of approximately 10 double-spaced pages is required for each answer. The comprehensive exam questions are drawn from the same pool as the qualifying exam questions, although students are expected to integrate more of their coursework into their comprehensive exams.
Full-time students are expected to enroll in nine credits (three courses) per semester during their first year. This enables full-time students to comfortably meet all of their degree requirements within two years. Students can complete their work more rapidly by taking advantage of summer courses. Summer study is an attractive option for some students, but there is no requirement to enroll in summer courses
Part-time students are welcome and are encouraged to apply. We aim to provide a flexible framework that accommodates full-time students, as well as working professionals who complete their degrees one course at a time!
Ready for the Next Step?
Alumni Panel Shares Paths for Careers in Government and Politics
The Villanova alumni network is known for giving back, especially to current students who are trying to discern their own career paths. That generosity is on display when the annual Political Science Alumni Career Panel convenes each spring on campus. Read more.