The Master’s Degree

The M.A. in Political Science is a 40-hour program with a required 28-hour minimum of 500-level courses. The Master’s Degree is offered both on-ground and online.

Students may apply credits earned from the Graduate Public Service Internship or the Illinois Legislative Staff Internships for program internship requirements.

Electives may be selected from a wide range of courses in Political Science and related disciplines. Students may take up to 12 semester hours of 400-level courses for graduate credit, with a maximum of eight hours taken outside of Political Science. When they take 400-level courses, graduate students are held to a higher standard of performance and must complete additional requirements.

Program requirements may also be found on the Political Science web page.


On admission to the program, students are assigned an initial advisor. After a semester a student may select his or her permanent academic advisor. This faculty member can assist the student with closure committee formation and closure guidance, as a supervisor for internships and practice units, and academic counselor in devising an appropriate program of study. The advisor also monitors student progress in satisfying the requirements of the degree.

Grading Policy

Students must have a grade average of B to qualify for the degree. A maximum of eight hours of C (2.0) grades is applicable to the degree (grades of C- or lower are not accepted), provided that a minimum GPA of 3.0 is reached at time of graduation and an approved Student Petition form is on file in the Office of Records and Registration. In no circumstances, however, may a grade lower than B in PSC 501 be counted toward the degree. For students choosing the CR/NC option, a CR represents work equivalent to B, meaning that grades of CR may be counted toward the master’s degree.

NOTE: Students also should refer to the campus policy on Grades Acceptable Toward Master’s Degrees section of this catalog.

Communication Skills

Successful performance in practical politics and political science requires ability to write and speak persuasively and to present sophisticated information and complex subject matter directly and plausibly. Completion of PSC 501 will verify satisfaction of the communication skills requirement.

Degree Requirements

Core Courses
PSC 501 Introduction to the Graduate Study of Politics 4
PSC 502 Methods Of Inquiry 4
PSC 590 Closure Exercise (Select one: Comprehensive Examination, Participant/Observer Case Study/Thesis) 4
Select an Option from the Areas of Emphasis, or no Emphasis 1 28
PSC 530 Graduate Internship in Political Science 2 1-8
Total Hours 40

To allow students to specialize in a subfield, an area of emphasis of at least 16 hours may be chosen in consultation with an advisor. An area of emphasis is not required.


A maximum of eight hours of internship may be applied toward the degree as elective hours but is not required.

Master’s Closure

Every graduate degree candidate is required to complete a closure exercise demonstrating mastery of some area within the major field of study. Political Science students have three options for fulfilling this requirement:

  1. comprehensive examination,
  2. participant/observer case study, or
  3. master’s thesis.

Students must enroll in four hours of PSC 590 for one of the options listed above. Campus policy requires that students be enrolled in the master’s closure exercise each fall and spring semester after beginning their graduate closure exercise until that exercise is completed. For PSC students, this means that if the case study/thesis is not completed by the end of the initial four hours of enrollment in PSC 590, students must register for PSC 591 (zero credit hours, one billable hour) in all subsequent fall and spring semesters until the exercise is completed.