Master of Arts in Comparative and International Studies


Program Description

The MACIS is a research-oriented graduate program in political science, offered by the Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS), one of the leading political science research centers in Europe. The CIS is a joint institution of ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich. The 2013 Leiden Ranking placed ETH Zurich at the very top in the social sciences and humanities in Europe.

The MACIS is a 90-ECTS program and takes 3-4 semesters to complete. The curriculum concentrates on questions of democracy, political violence, political economy, and sustainable development. All courses are taught in English by a team of internationally renowned professors.

With small class sizes of no more than 15-20, MACIS students benefit from close student-faculty interaction and an intellectually stimulating environment. Admission is on a competitive basis.

With its strong emphasis on theory, methods, and research, the program serves as an excellent preparation for subsequent research leading to a Ph.D. degree, or research-oriented employment in the private or public sector. Around half of our students enter a Ph.D. program at the CIS or elsewhere upon graduation from the program. Others pursue careers in the private sector, government, or international and civil society organizations.

MACIS offers financial support for around ten students per cohort through research and teaching assistant positions, as well as an excellence scholarship provided by ETH Zurich. Tuition fees are very low by international comparison. Those students pursuing Ph.D. research following their MACIS studies are fully funded by one of the research groups at the CIS.

Proximity to Geneva offers great opportunities for visits to, and internships with international organizations. The MACIS also has a student exchange arrangement with the Graduate Institute of International Studies (IHEID).

Aims and Program Structure

The MACIS program aims at enabling students to conduct high-quality research on a wide range of political phenomena, such as democracy, political violence, European integration, socio-economic development, and global environmental governance. To that end, students take a set of core seminars that deal with theories, methods, and their application to key areas of empirical research in comparative and international politics. Equipped with these skills, students can engage in their own research via participation in research seminars and involvement as research assistants in ongoing projects led by CIS professors.

The MACIS program is a 90-ECTS program that typically takes 3-4 semesters to complete. The basic structure and contents corresponding to the educational components of a Ph.D. program at one of the top universities in North America. It thus equips students with a very solid foundation for subsequent Ph.D. research. Likewise, students pursuing non-academic careers can profit from MACIS due to its strong emphasis on analytical skills- tools which are easily transferable, and useful in the private sector, government, and/or international and non-governmental organizations.

The MACIS program totals 90 ECTS credit points. The points are allocated as follows:

  • 5 core seminars: 40 ECTS
  • 1 research seminar: 8 ECTS
  • 3 elective courses: 12 ECTS
  • MA thesis (including MA colloquium and conference presentation): 30 ECTS
  • Total: 90 ECTS

MACIS is designed as a full-time Master degree program (time investment 40 - 50 hours per week) that can and should be completed within three to four semesters. (at the latest in three years).

Who may apply?

You may apply for admission to the MACIS program if you have completed

  • a BA, BSc, or an equivalent first degree at a recognized university
  • a Swiss Lizenziat/Licence

You can be admitted to the program without any additional prerequisites if

  • your first degree (or equivalent) is in one of the following social sciences: economics, political science (including Staatswissenschaften and public administration) or sociology
  • your first degree (or equivalent) is in a different field but you have completed substantial coursework (at least 20 credit points ECTS) in one of the social sciences listed above


In addition to the online application, the following documents must be submitted at the application deadline:

  • a personal statement of purpose indicating your motivation and goals for the MACIS program
  • your curriculum vitae (CV)
  • two letters (no online letters accepted) of reference by university professors - at least one of them by a professor from your degree-granting institution
  • proof of English proficiency. NOTE: Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE), TOEFL and IELTS test results may be handed in after the application deadline.
  • An official GRE (no GMAT) Score Report is:

Mandatory for students who have obtained their Bachelor Diploma not in one of the Bologna countries

Voluntary for students who have obtained their Bachelor Diploma in one of the Bologna countries

  • Additional information, e.g., on publications, awards or internships may be submitted on a voluntary basis

MACIS applicants are NOT required to submit a German language certificate or a letter confirming admittance to an MA program in political science in their home country.

Last updated Jan 2018

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About the School

The Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS Zurich) was founded in 1997 under the leadership of Prof. Kurt Spillmann as a way of bringing together political

The Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS Zurich) was founded in 1997 under the leadership of Prof. Kurt Spillmann as a way of bringing together political Read less