MA in Political Science


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

In the Master of Arts in Political Science program, students develop a foundation of academic study in their field of interest. MA students take courses alongside doctoral students and are exposed to the same material, with courses as varied as Japanese Politics, Race and Crime, U.S. Space Policy, and Constitutional Law.

In addition to coursework, students participate in scholarly debates in their chosen field and hone statistical research techniques. Many go on to careers as political campaign strategists, professors, leaders in government and business and expert contributors at top media outlets.


All MA students must complete 15 of the total 33 required credits in one of three tracks:

  • American Politics
  • World Politics
  • Law and Politics


Comprehensive Exams

At the end of their studies, all MA students must pass a comprehensive examination in one of the departmental tracks: American politics, world politics or law, and politics.


Soon after their arrival in the department, students should speak with the professors who are the conveners for their chosen exam track. Professors will advise students about coursework that is most appropriate, combining the parameters of the field with the student's interests.

Plan of Study

During the first semester, and no later than the second, students should fill out a plan of study in consultation with the director of graduate studies. This allows students and their advisors to plan for the entire program, and determine which classes are necessary to prepare for comprehensive exams.

Exam Dates and Grading

Opportunities to take the exams are offered once per year in May. An extra exam may be scheduled in April for MA students planning to graduate in May. Be sure to contact the graduate advisor in advance to arrange this if necessary. 

Comprehensive exams are evaluated as fail, bare pass, satisfactory pass, or pass with distinction. Students must receive a grade of bare pass or better on the MA exam in order to fulfill this degree requirement. Students may retake an exam once, if necessary; under no circumstances may a student take a comprehensive examination a third time. Failure to demonstrate the required level of performance on comprehensive examinations after two efforts will result in termination from the program.

Course Requirements 

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

33 credits, including a minimum of 15 credits in a single track, selected according to departmental guidelines, and 18 credits selected from among all tracks; and successful completion of a comprehensive examination.


15 credits (five courses) in one of the three tracks listed below and 18 credits (six courses) selected from among all tracks.

American politics track

  • PSC 6103Approaches to Public Policy Analysis
  • PSC 6114Theories of Judicial Review
  • PSC 6346The Politics of U.S. Foreign Policy
  • PSC 6347U.S. Foreign Policy Traditions
  • PSC 6348Politics of U.S. National Security Policy
  • PSC 8210American Political Process
  • PSC 8211Urban Politics
  • PSC 8212Urban Policy Problems
  • PSC 8213Judicial Politics
  • PSC 8215Law, Politics, and Society
  • PSC 8216American Presidency
  • PSC 8217Executive Branch Politics
  • PSC 8218Legislative Politics
  • PSC 8219Political Parties and Elections
  • PSC 8220Public Opinion and Political Psychology
  • PSC 8221Interest-Group Politics
  • PSC 8226Politics and Organizations
  • PSC 8229Politics and Public Policy
  • PSC 8286Selected Topics in American Politics
  • SMPA 6207Political Persuasion and Public Opinion
  • SMPA 6210Media and Foreign Policy
  • SMPA 6272Media Bias, Power, and Democracy
  • SOC 6230Sociological Research Methods
  • SOC 6231Data Analysis
  • SOC 6245Race Relations
  • SOC 6248Race and Urban Redevelopment
  • SOC 6250Urban Sociology
  • SOC 6263Race and Crime
  • SOC 6265Women, Welfare, and Poverty
  • SOC 6266Gender and Criminal Justice
  • SOC 6268Race, Gender, and Class

World politics track

  • PSC 6330Comparative Government and Politics
  • PSC 6333Comparative Politics of Russia and Eurasia
  • PSC 6336The Political Economy of China, India, and Beyond
  • PSC 6338U.S. Foreign Economic Policy
  • PSC 6345Comparative Foreign Policy
  • PSC 6349International Security Politics
  • PSC 6350Foreign Policy Analysis—Selected Topics
  • PSC 6351Civil-Military Relations
  • PSC 6360Western European Politics
  • PSC 6361Politics of European Integration
  • PSC 6362Nation-Building in the Balkans
  • PSC 6364Comparative Governments and Politics of Central And Eastern Europe
  • PSC 6366Government and Politics of Russia
  • PSC 6367Post-Soviet Politics
  • PSC 6368Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy
  • PSC 6370Politics of China I
  • PSC 6371Politics of China II
  • PSC 6372Foreign Policy of China
  • PSC 6373Political Economy of Industrializing Asia
  • PSC 6374Korean Politics
  • PSC 6377Comparative Politics of the Middle East
  • PSC 6379Government and Politics of Africa
  • PSC 6383Comparative Politics of Latin America
  • PSC 6388Topics in Comparative Politics
  • PSC 6390Politics and Culture
  • PSC 6439International Political Economy
  • PSC 6440Theory in International Relations
  • PSC 6442Politics and Practice of International Institutions
  • PSC 6444Politics of International Law
  • PSC 6456Origins of Major Wars and Terrorism
  • PSC 6457Arms Control and Disarmament
  • PSC 6465The International Politics of Central and Eastern Europe
  • PSC 6467Asian Security
  • PSC 6475International Politics of East Asia
  • PSC 6476The Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • PSC 6478International Relations of the Middle East
  • PSC 6484International Relations of Latin America
  • PSC 6489Topics in International Relations
  • PSC 8333Political Violence
  • PSC 8334 Democracy and Democratization in Comparative Perspective
  • SC 8337Theories of Political Development
  • PSC 8338Nationalism and Nation-Building
  • PSC 8340Authoritarianism and Democratization
  • PSC 8341Theories of Ethnic Politics
  • PSC 8388Selected Topics in Comparative Politics
  • PSC 8461Military Effectiveness
  • IAFF 6102Global Gender Policy
  • IAFF 6106Nuclear Weapons
  • IAFF 6118Special Topics in International Affairs
  • IAFF 6122Development Policy and Practice
  • IAFF 6136Gender and Development
  • IAFF 6138Special Topics in International Development Studies
  • IAFF 6142Technology Creation/Diffusion
  • IAFF 6145U.S. Space Policy
  • IAFF 6146Space Law
  • IAFF 6148Space and National Security
  • IAFF 6151Environmental Policy
  • IAFF 6153Science, Technology, and National Security
  • IAFF 6158Special Topics in International Science and Technology Policy
  • IAFF 6160Defense Policy and Program Analysis
  • IAFF 6163 Transnational Security
  • IAFF 6165Fundamentals of Intelligence
  • IAFF 6167Defense Policy and Program Analysis II
  • IAFF 6169Homeland Security
  • IAFF 6171Introduction to Conflict Resolution
  • IAFF 6173Security and Development
  • IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies
  • IAFF 6198Special Topics in International Trade and Investment Policy
  • IAFF 6208Special Topics in Global Communication
  • IAFF 6222Special Topics in International Policy and Practice
  • IAFF 6302Taiwan: Internal Development and Foreign Policy
  • IAFF 6305U.S.-South Asia Relations
  • IAFF 6308International Relations of South Asia
  • IAFF 6318Special Topics in Asian Studies
  • IAFF 6338Special Topics in European and Eurasian Studies
  • IAFF 6342Drug Trafficking in the Americas
  • IAFF 6358Special Topics in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies
  • IAFF 6362Regional Security in Middle East
  • IAFF 6363Political Economy of the Middle East
  • IAFF 6364Religion and Society in the Modern Middle East
  • IAFF 6378Special Topics in Middle East Studies
  • IAFF 6501 Quantitative Analysis for International Affairs Practitioners

Law and politics track

  • PSC 6103Approaches to Public Policy Analysis
  • PSC 6113The Constitution: History and Ideas
  • PSC 6114Theories of Judicial Review
  • PSC 6187Selected Topics in Political Theory
  • PSC 6444Politics of International Law
  • PSC 8210American Political Process
  • PSC 8213Judicial Politics
  • PSC 8215Law, Politics, and Society
  • PSC 8217Executive Branch Politics
  • PSC 8218Legislative Politics
  • PSC 8219Political Parties and Elections
  • PSC 8229Politics and Public Policy
  • EDUC 6236School Law and Policy
  • EDUC 6560Legal Problems in Higher Education
  • HIST 6312The Law of Race and Slavery
  • HIST 6370U.S. Legal History
  • LAW 6214Constitutional Law I
  • PHIL 6242Philosophy, Law, and Social Policy
  • PPPA 6075Law and the Public Administrator
  • SOC 6261Sociology of Law
  • SOC 6263 Race and Crime
  • WGSS 6266 Gender and Criminal Justice

Other requirements

Successful completion of a comprehensive examination.

Application Process

Applicants must first go through the university's general admissions process. The department does not accept direct applications, nor does it keep the required forms. Applicants who meet the Columbian Collge of Arts & Sciences' minimum requirements will be forwarded to the department for evaluation.

  • Fall Semester: April 1
  • Spring Semester: October 1

Please note: the Fall deadline for international students requiring a student visa is January 17; the Spring deadline is September 1.

The deadline for fellowship consideration for the Fall semester is also January 17. All fellowships begin in the fall semester.

Applications received and/or completed after the deadline will still be referred to the appropriate department for review by general admissions. Because of enrollment constraints, sometimes we are unable to review applications after the deadline.

“I moved from being an academic to business to government, so a lot of the things I learned at GW — looking at the macro picture, being able to look strategically — I took with me.”

Anwar Gargash, BA ’81, MA ’84
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

Last updated Jul 2020

About the School

At GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, research thrives, critical thinking is endemic, collaboration is constant, and real world training go hand-in-hand with learning.

At GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, research thrives, critical thinking is endemic, collaboration is constant, and real world training go hand-in-hand with learning. Read less