Political Science (M.A.) (Spring 2013 and earlier)


The Department of Political Science is committed to those items enumerated in the mission statements of Marshall University and its College of Liberal Arts. First and foremost, the Department of Political Science strives to prepare future leaders by providing undergraduate and graduate students with a quality liberal arts political science education. This education includes critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, research skills, language/communication skills, and development of students’ intellectual capabilities. The Department of Political Science is committed to (1) applied and basic research; (2) leadership and public service to the community; and (3) developing insight into multicultural and global issues.

Admission Requirements

Applicants should follow the admissions process outlined in the Graduate Catalog or at the Graduate College website at www.marshall.edu/graduate/admissionsrequirements.asp.

Additional requirements:

  • Completion of 12 hours of undergraduate social science coursework;
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test and TOEFL (if applicable); 550 or higher for TOEFL;
  • Two letters of recommendation that discuss the applicant’s abilities (college instructors strongly preferred);
  • A personal statement (1-2 page essay regarding the student’s interest in political science and how the M.A. degree will benefit him or her);
  • An undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale for all previously completed undergraduate university work;
  • A Marshall University Graduate Application for Admission (obtained from the Graduate Admissions office or online).

Applicants may be accepted for Provisional Admission (see definition of Provisional Admission in this catalog), based on all of the above criteria except:

  • Undergraduate GPA between 2.50 and 2.99 on a 4.0 scale for all previously completed undergraduate university work.

Plan of Study

A Plan of Study approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Dean must be filed in the Graduate College office before the student registers for the 12th semester hour.

Core Curriculum

The Master of Arts degree requires the completion of 30 hours of coursework and writing a thesis, or completion of 36 hours of coursework and the passing of written and oral comprehensive examinations.

The graduate curriculum in political science is divided into four fields of specialization. The student who elects to write a thesis must take at least nine credit hours in one of these, and the topic of the thesis must be within that field. Under the non-thesis option, at least twelve credit hours must be taken within a single field.

Minimum requirements – 36 hrs.
1. Political Science 600 and 604 (required of all majors) – 6 hrs.
2. Major Field – 12 hrs.
3. Minor Field – 9 hrs.
4. Thesis option – 6 hrs.
5. Electives – 9 hrs.

Electives must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and be related to the major or minor field of study.

Graduate Field Concentrations

All courses are designated PSC unless otherwise noted.

American National, State, and Local Politics: 523, 533, 536, 540, 542, 560, 584, 606, 611, 612, 648, 652, 675.

International/Comparative Politics: 505, 506, 507, 508, 510, 511, 512, 515, 516, 520, 522, 523, 524, 529, 531, 544, 609, 614, 620, 652.

Political Theory: 518, 519, 521, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 546, 629.

Public Administration/Urban Studies: 531, 533, 542, 550, 552, 553, 554, 561, 618, 620, 621, 660.

*Must take any two of these courses for a major field.

Courses that fall in two or more specializations may be counted in an appropriate area upon the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Director of Graduate Studies must approve all coursework that constitutes each student’s specialization. Enrollment in specializations and elective courses is subject to the completion of any prerequisite courses and/or any requirement for permission to enroll from an individual instructor and/or other department faculty member. In addition, all courses to be considered toward graduation require approval from the Director of Graduate Studies.

Thesis Option

For students planning to continue graduate studies in a doctoral program, the thesis is the preferred option for receipt of the M.A. degree in Political Science.

Students electing the thesis option must complete 30 hours of graduate course credit. Students selecting the thesis option must complete the core courses and area of concentration requirements and have a written thesis proposal/prospectus approved by the thesis committee prior to enrolling for thesis credit. The remaining credit hours are obtained by taking thesis research (PSC 681) (6 credit hours). The 6 thesis research hours are normally taken in three-hour increments over two successive semesters, immediately preceding graduation, and after course requirements are completed.

All students selecting the thesis option must pass an oral defense. In cooperation with the Director of Graduate Studies, a student should form a thesis committee. The thesis committee assists in selecting and developing the research problem and evaluates the student’s work on that problem. A student who selects the thesis option should outline the thesis option early in his or her studies in consultation with members of the graduate faculty. The student should also determine the graduate faculty member of the department who will serve as chair of the student’s thesis committee.

Non-Thesis Option

Students who select the M.A. degree without a thesis must complete 36 credit hours of graduate coursework with a GPA of at least 3.0 and meet all other requirements. The credit hours include the 18- hour core course requirement, which includes the 12-hour specialization requirement. Nine credit hours must be completed in a minor area of specialization offered by the Political Science Department. The remaining 9 hours may be taken from a variety of graduate level courses offered at Marshall University.

All elective courses must enhance the major or minor field and be approved in advance by the Director of Graduate Studies. All students who select the non-thesis option must pass both written and oral comprehensive exams. Both written and oral comprehensive examinations are administered once during the fall and spring semesters.

Choosing Classes

All curriculum choices should be made in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Students should keep in mind that they cannot retake undergraduate/graduate classes they took as an undergraduate student at Marshall University (if applicable).


Each new graduate student must meet with the Director of Graduate Studies before his or her first semester as a graduate student. Continued advising throughout a student’s tenure at Marshall University is strongly encouraged.