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Political Science (MA)


SPA: Graduate Admissions
(202) 885-6230
Kerwin Hall, Room 306

SPA: Graduate Admissions
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016
Political Wonk

The Master
of Political Science

Chief of staff. Lobbyist. Advocate. Elected official.

Political wonks know how to make their mark.

Political Science (MA)

Offered by the Department of Government, School of Public Affairs.

Admission to the Program

In addition to meeting the minimum university requirements for graduate study, applicants must earn a satisfactory score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). All applicants are evaluated on the basis of scholastic achievement in their undergraduate work, two letters of recommendation, and an essay on career interest. Applicants who wish to be considered for merit based awards may apply for full or part-time status.

Degree Requirements

  • 33 credit hours of approved graduate work
  • Written comprehensive examination in American politics, applied politics, or comparative politics, depending on track
  • Tracks: Political Science, or Applied Politics

Course Requirements

Research Methods (6 credit hours)

Tracks (27 credit hours)

Complete one of the following:

Political Science: American Politics

American Politics (15 credit hours)

Complete 15 credit hours from the following:

Comparative Politics or Political Theory (3 credit hours)
  • 600-level course in comparative politics or political theory (3)
Additional (9 credit hours)
  • 9 credit hours selected from political science or other disciplines, which may include 3 credit hours of GOVT-691 Internship (1-6) 

Political Science: Comparative Politics

Required (3 credit hours)
Comparative Politics (9 credit hours)

Complete 9 credit hours from the following:

Political Theory (3 credit hours)
  • One course in political theory
American Politics (3 credit hours)
  • One 600-level course in American politics
Additional (9 credit hours)
  • 9 credit hours selected from political science or other disciplines, which may include 3 credit hours of GOVT-691 Internship (1-6) 

Applied Politics

Required (3 credit hours)
Institutes (3-4 credit hours)

Complete 3-4 credit hours from the following:

Topics (2 credit hours)

Complete two 1 credit courses from the following:

Additional (18-19 credit hours)

Complete 18-19 credit hours from the following:

Apply to SPA Graduate Programs

Click below to start or continue your School of Public Affairs application.


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Master's Program Experience

Through a rich academic curriculum, the unparalleled ability to connect students with experts, and a prime location at the center of the action, the Government Department at American University opens the door to our political system and provides future leaders with the knowledge they need to excel in the political arena.

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Program Goals

Upon completion of this program, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the core questions and basic literature in at least one subfield of political science.
  2. Apply political science theories to real world problems.
  3. Show a fluency in reading quantitative research findings and the ability to undertake basic analysis using quantitative tools.
  4. Show familiarity with basic issues of research design.
  5. Demonstrate mastery of writing through a range of assignments, including empirical research papers, theoretical essays, and other forms of expository writing.