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Political Science, Master of Arts (M.A.)

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The Master of Arts in Political Science is a 2 year, 30-credit hour program, offering both a thesis and a non-thesis option.

1. Thesis option: 24 graded course credits, 2 courses (6 credits) of ungraded research, and successful completion and defense of a master's thesis.

2. Non-thesis option: 30 graded course credits, and 2 original research papers.

The Master of Arts Program covers all subfields of the discipline, and it prepares students for careers in academic life and government such as pursuing a doctoral degree in political science or entering a career in a public/governmental agency, non-profit organization or private research organization.

In the thesis option, 24 graded course credits are required in addition to six ungraded research credits for a total of thirty (30) credit hours. The ungraded research hours should be spent preparing the thesis proposal and the thesis itself. Three of these ungraded credits will be completed as part of a seminar on how to write a major research paper/thesis.  The M.A. thesis should demonstrate the ability to collect, interpret and analyze pertinent material on a research problem. Ideally, the M.A. thesis will be a journal-style paper of approximately 30-50 pages. The student is required to pass an oral examination defending the thesis in order to earn the degree.

In the non-thesis option, students are required to complete 30 graded course credits. In addition, students must submit two original research papers written in successful fulfillment of the requirements in two political science seminars of the student’s choosing.  The faculty committee will then hold an oral exam in which the student must defend the papers. Candidates must pass the oral examinations in order to earn the degree.

Prospective Careers/Jobs
The Master of Arts in Political Science is designed for persons with a bachelor degree who have career interests in public service, government, or higher education teaching.

Students in the M.A. Political Science program will specialize in one of the educational tracks.

Track #1: American Government
Students will concentrate on courses dealing with the American Federal System.  This track will prepare them for doctoral programs in Political Science and education and skills to compete for jobs in federal, state or local public agencies, corporate governmental relations positions, and non-profit advocacy groups.  Possible elective courses include Contemporary Political Theory, Representation: Congress and the Constitution, Seminar in Campaigns and Elections, Campaign Management, the American Presidency, Seminar in American Government, The Policy Paradox: Public Policy in the 21st Century, Internship and Special Topics.

Track #2: American Legal System
In addition to assisting students to prepare for admission and successful completion of law school, this option is designed to provide graduate students with professional knowledge and skills needed to work in a variety of settings including:  law enforcement, the judicial system, and non-profit advocacy groups on issues related to criminal justice reform.  Electives in this concentration could include:  Seminar in American Government, the American Judicial System, Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, Public Policy in the 21st Century as well as special topics courses on areas of interest.

Track #3: International Relations
This concentration will provide students with broad based education and skills that will enable them to become leaders in the global environment.  The concentration will focus on policies and relationships with Africa.  Elective courses may include: African American Politics, Global Politics, United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Africa.

Admissions Criteria and Application Requirements
Applicant must have received an earned Baccalaureate degree with a minimum GPA of 2.7 in any field from a regionally accredited college or university.

Online Application to the admissions office
Official academic transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.
Three letters of reference that focus on the candidate’s ability to successfully complete graduate studies. The letters must focus on the student’s academic record, work record and personal character. One letter from a former instructor is preferred.  

Resume Personal statement (500 words) of purpose to include their career goals.Students whose first language is not English, must pass the (Test of English as a Foreign Language) TOEFL with a score of 550 or better and submit to the Admission Office.

For more information, email the Graduate Admissions Office at

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Program Faculty

Dr. Lenneal Henderson
Master of Arts in Political Science
Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Eminent Scholar at Virginia State University, Petersburg, Virginia; Mentoring Faculty member of the Educational Leadership for Change Doctoral Program of the Fielding Graduate University. He received his A.B., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Ted Ritter
Master of Arts in Political Science
Associate Professor of Political Science at VUU; Dean, School of Arts and Sciences. He received his B.A., JD and PhD. degrees from the University of Oklahoma.

Dr. Theodore Brown
Master of Arts in Political Science
Assistant Professor of Political Science at VUU. He received a B.A. from the University of Richmond and PhD from the University of Virginia.