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Graduate Program

MA in Political Science

Beginning July 1, 2020, the Rochester Political Science Department is launching a one-year program leading to the Master of Arts in Political Science, described briefly in the program flyer. This page contains a more detailed description of the program and application process.

Overview: The Rochester PhD program in Political Science is renowned for its rigorous training in the analysis of politics. Faculty and students at Rochester are actively engaged in the development of formal and statistical methods, and in the application of those tools to broad questions of interest, such as: the determinants of international conflict, the efficacy and durability of democratic government, and the influence of special interests on elections and policy making. The MA program in Political Science builds on this foundation to provide key analytical tools and applied knowledge at the master's level, and it would be suitable preparation for students pursuing careers in such fields as political consulting, government, international organizations, or law, and for students intending to apply to doctoral programs.

Program Description: The program provides students with rigorous training in the techniques of political science. Before regular courses start in the fall semester, all students take a math review, Math Fundamentals for Political Science, which equips them with needed mathematical background for the program. Regular coursework for the MA program consists of six courses (in addition to the review) and the master's seminar, taken during the fall and spring semesters. The program culminates in a comprehensive written exam, and students leave with working knowledge of the main tools of political science research, familiarity with the literature in a chosen concentration area, and the ability to analyze and solve problems independently.

Concentrations Offered: Democratic institutions, data analysis, international relations, public policy, and political economy.

Program Requirements: The MA program in Political Science is a one-year program in which each student must complete at least 30 course credits. Specific course requirements are outlined below.

  • Prior to the fall semester, all master's students take Math Fundamentals for Political Science, a 2-credit course intended to provide students with a baseline mathematical background needed to succeed in the program.
  • Each student takes at least one of the two technical sequences from the PhD program: formal modeling (PSCI 407 and 408) or statistical methods (PSCI 404 or 405). Each course in the sequence is 4 credits, for a total of 8 credits.
  • Students take a 2-credit master's seminar in the fall and spring semesters, for a total of 4 credits.
  • In addition to the preceding requirements, students choose two elective courses each semester, for a total of 16 credits. To fulfill a concentration area, two of the four elective courses must be drawn from that area. At least two elective courses must be PSCI courses, while others can be drawn from associated courses from other departments.

All coursework must be completed with a minimum grade of B-. The program culminates in a comprehensive written exam, which tests the student's facility with technical tools and substantive knowledge in political science areas.

Application Details: Applications are on a rolling basis. Applications received before May 8, 2020, will receive full consideration, but applications received later will also be considered. Students who apply before May 8 may indicate whether an early admission decision is needed. Applications must be submitted online at the AS&E Application Management page.

Qualified students will be academically motivated and interested in gaining rigorous training in the techniques of political science. A major in Political Science is not needed to succeed in the program, and students with backgrounds in humanities, social sciences, engineering, and natural sciences are encouraged to apply.

Because of the rigorous nature of the MA program, students should have an aptitude for mathematical reasoning, although extensive background in math is not required for admission. Prior completion of a calculus course is beneficial, but not required. The Math Fundamentals for Political Science short course will "start from scratch" and provide the basic skills needed to succeed in the program.

Requirements for application are as follows:

  • A current transcript from the student's undergraduate institution, leading to a BA in hand by June 30, is required. There is no specific GPA requirement; instead, we will consider the nature of courses taken and will take into account the difficulty of a student's chosen curriculum.
  • Applicants must submit a current resume.
  • Applicants must provide a statement of purpose that describes the student's intellectual interests and the student's academic or vocational goals. Please indicate the concentration areas of greatest interest, if any (this is for planning purposes and is not a commitment).
  • Current UR students must provide three names of UR faculty members as references, and other applicants must provide three letters of recommendation.
  • For entry into the program for the 2020-21 academic year, we do not require GRE scores.

The program is tuition-based (see the Office of the Bursar for more information), but limited financial aid is available.

Contact Information:

John Duggan
Department Chair

Mark Fey
Director of Graduate Studies

Jenna Wernert
Department Administrator