Master of Arts
Departmental Goals and Objectives
The M.A. degree program is designed to join the basic theoretical pursuits of Political Science with the practical knowledge needed by effective public officials and political practitioners. The campus’ location in the state capital offers a rich setting for combining theory and practice. The Political Science Department offers thorough academic instruction in American state and national politics, public law, international relations, comparative government, and political philosophy. Department faculty augment their academic specialties with a great variety of professional and political experiences. The faculty encourage students to take full advantage of the academic and professional opportunities offered by UIS and the state capital.
The M.A. degree curriculum is organized to meet the needs of a diverse student body, offering graduate students the option to take a course of study that merges the academic and practical aspects of politics. Because students enter the major with bachelor’s degrees in a variety of social sciences and humanities, the M.A. curriculum is centered in several required courses that provide essential concepts and skills. For that reason, all students who have not taken an undergraduate research methods course are required to take PSC 451 to prepare them in research and quantitative methods. If PSC 451 is stipulated as a condition of your admission to the program, it will count as an elective in the degree. It is not a prerequisite. A range of options in subject-matter seminars, elective courses, and internships allow students to tailor their courses of study to their academic interests and professional aspirations. The department is particularly well organized for students who want to pursue careers in practical politics at the state level, in agencies involved in international policy making, for those who are preparing to teach, and for those who aspire to an advanced degree in Political Science or Law.
The Political Science curriculum ensures that competence is coupled with understanding. Courses examine political concepts and processes, historic changes in political structures, and the larger human meaning of competence in the areas of electoral and legislative systems, law and civil liberties, political philosophy, international relations, and comparative politics. Students with sharply focused interests in a particular sub-field of the discipline are able to organize their electives into areas of emphasis. Also, students are encouraged to seek appropriate instruction from faculty in public administration, economics, legal studies, and women and gender studies, among other areas.
This field is important to students who are seeking teaching careers at the secondary, community college, or university level, or who plan to study toward the doctorate. Sound academic course work and the hands-on experience are both important Political Science experiences for in-service teachers and for those preparing to teach. Interested students can combine course work in several sub-fields of interest including world politics, American government, Illinois history and government, and other aspects of civic education. Students may also arrange special teaching internships.
Graduate students in Political Science may also shape their M.A. programs to the special requirements of advanced degrees. Students who anticipate entering law school can tailor a program that draws on the resources of Legal Studies. For those interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science, the subject matter seminars offer graduate preparation in the standard fields required for doctoral study.
For those interested in international affairs and comparative politics, the department offers a special combination of courses and practice-related experiences. Internships are available in agencies of Illinois government that have international policies and programs. Because Political Science is a part of the campus’ interdisciplinary committee on international studies, students are encouraged to take courses on international subjects in several academic departments.
The M.A. program can be taken fully on-campus or fully online, and on-campus students may use a blended approach of mixing on-campus and online course work.