Program Requirements

Program Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled for the Political Science MA Program:

  • 33 credits of required and elective coursework

  • Proficiency in quantitative literacy

  • An internship (or completion of a thesis)

  • Comprehensive examination completion

Core Required Courses:

PS 5001 Scope and Methods (3 credits)

This course is designed to introduce students to both qualitative and quantitative research design and methods in political science. Topics include approaches to political science, constructing research questions, literature reviews, hypothesis development and testing, survey design, experiments, case studies, and some introductory statistics. Semester offered: Fall.

PS 5002: Research Methods and Statistics (3 credits)

This course examines the application of quantitative methods to political science research. The course is designed to achieve three goals: First, to prepare students to pursue their own research projects using statistics as a means to test hypotheses; Second, to provide students with a sufficient foundation in quantitative methods; Third, to equip students with the tools necessary to evaluate the merits of existing research using statistical techniques. The course includes lecture and lab. The lab provides students with weekly examples of how to analyze “real-world” data on their own. Semester offered: Spring

 PS 5900: Internship in Public Affairs (3-6 credits)

This course provides students an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge acquired during a program of study to practical experience in a real-world setting. Field work in government, community, or professional offices, and involvement in problem solving in these offices and agencies is expected.The internship is an aspect of the culmination of the academic program. Through various course components —weekly reports, evaluations, and a final paper/poster — the students are expected to make comparisons and analyses from their classroom education to their new field experiences. Students must also demonstrate proficiency in writing and verbal communication.  Semester offered: Summer/Fall/Spring

Concentration Courses:

6-12 semester hours of concentration courses are required for each concentration.

Elective Courses:

The remaining credits of graduate elective courses are selected in consultation with, and with the approval of the program director. We encourage students to select courses that enhance their knowledge of different areas of political science and that offer transferable skills. For concentration requirements, review The Graduate School Bulletin.


Plan of Study

During the first semester, and no later than the second, students develop a plan of study in consultation with the program director. This allows students to plan for the entire program, and determine which classes are necessary to prepare for the comprehensive exam in their concentration area. 

Proficiency requirement

Students must demonstrate a proficiency in quantitative analysis as a research tool, by completing PS 5001 Scope and Methods and PS5002 Research Methods and Statistics. 

Internship requirement

Students must complete PS 5900 Political Science Internship in for 3 or 6 credits before being eligible to graduate. Students may replace an internship with a thesis, if approved by the MA director, and must register for PS 5998 and PS 5999 in two consecutive semesters. Students planning to complete an internship must begin the process at least a semester ahead of time in order to successfully register and complete the internship by the deadlines provided on the GJS Internship page. Students are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with the department’s internship coordinator, Dr. Christina May.  The internship coordinator will prepare an internship contract. Students must obtain the internship site supervisor’s signature and sign the contract themselves, before returning it to the internship coordinator. 

Thesis Option

A thesis is optional and entails 6 hours of graduate coursework: PS 5998 Thesis Preparation and PS 5999 Thesis. The thesis requires students to engage in individual research under the guidance of a committee consisting of three faculty members, one of whom will serve as the thesis director. No more than one member of the thesis committee may be from another department or institution. Students must successfully complete PS 5998 and receive full approval of their prospectus before being permitted to register for PS 5999. To register for PS 5999, the student must submit a copy of their prospectus along with a completed thesis committee form to the Graduate School.  Students who think they may wish to write a thesis are encouraged to consult with the graduate program director as soon as possible after enrollment in the program. Visit the Graduate School’s web page for further information regarding thesis preparation and timeline requirements. 

Comprehensive Examination

During the final semester of coursework, students must pass a written comprehensive examination. The purpose of this exam is to demonstrate a student’s mastery of the critical content of the discipline in their chosen concentration. The exam is offered once  per academic semester. The examination committee, consisting of faculty from the student’s area of specialization, prepares and evaluates the exam content. Comprehensive exams are evaluated as: fail, qualified pass, pass and pass with honors. Students must receive a grade of qualified pass or better on the exam in order to fulfill this degree requirement. Students may retake an exam only once, if necessary; under no circumstances may a student take a comprehensive examination a third time. Successful passage of the comprehensive examination is a prerequisite for completion of the degree.

Accelerated Admission Requirements

Students accepted into the Accelerated Admission Program may register for graduate coursework on their own. However, students are strongly encouraged to talk to their undergraduate advisor and the graduate program director if they want to select courses that will count for both their undergraduate and graduate degree programs. There is no guarantee that courses will be counted without prior approval from both of these individuals. The list of courses completed as part of the Accelerated Admission program must be submitted to the graduate program director, who then submits a request to the Graduate School to have these courses added to the student’s graduate degree program. Graduate coursework taken as an undergraduate student under the Accelerated Admission Program can only be applied to graduate programs here at Appalachian. Only courses with a grade of B (3.0) or better can be applied to the graduate program of study with a limit of 12 hours total counting toward the graduate degree. Students may NOT take graduate hours in Thesis, Independent/Individual Study, or Internship while still an undergraduate student. 

The following are requirements for maintaining an Accelerated Admission student status:

  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher

  • Earn a C- or better on any graduate courses taken; however, only courses with a grade of B or better can be counted toward your future graduate degree.