Department of Political Science

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Joint J.D./M.A. in Political Science Program

Admission Requirements Financial Aid            Program Requirements M.A. Thesis M.A. Examination

Admission Requirements

Students wishing to participate in the dual-degree program must be admitted separately by each unit.

For graduate studies in the School of Law, please see their application requirements and deadlines.

For graduate studies in the Department of Political Science, each applicant must hold a baccalaureate degree and submit specific credentials, along with the application form and fee, no later than 90 days before the first day of classes of the semester for which admission is being requested (November 1 for Spring semester admission, June 1 for Fall semester admission). Applicants will not be evaluated until they have submitted all required materials.

Applicants to the M.A. program must submit:

  • Application Form 
  • Application Fee ($50)
  • Three letters of recommendation from former professors. (Submission of letters from individuals other than professors requires the approval of the Graduate Coordinator.)
  • Statement of Objectives: The Statement of Objectives is required by the Case Western Reserve University School of Graduate Studies. You should create your own document and include “Statement of Objectives” as the heading. The statement should be one or two pages and should include your purpose in undertaking graduate work, and an explanation of your study and research interests as they relate to your undergraduate/graduate study and professional goals.
  • Transcripts of all prior undergraduate and graduate work. The department strongly prefers that applicants without an M.A. in Political Science have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.2 overall and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.4 in Political Science courses and that applicants with an M.A. degree in Political Science have a minimum GPA of 3.4 overall in their M.A. work.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Results with minimum scores of 153 on Verbal (or 500 if taken before August 1, 2011), 144 on Quantitative (or 500 if taken before August 1, 2011), and 4.5 on Analytical sections. **Note: The Political Science Department will accept the LSAT as a substitute for the GRE for admission to the M.A. program. The department requires an LSAT score of no less than 155.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Scores (for international students only) with a minimum score of at least 577 on the paper version or at least 90 on the computer version of the TOEFL. A score of 7.0 is required on the International English Language Testing System.

Financial Aid

The program costs and financial aid are determined by the school of original enrollment. If you plan to apply first to the School of Law, please contact the CWRU Law Student Financial Services Office (216-368-3602) for more information. If you plan to apply first to the School of Graduate Studies, please contact the Office of University Financial Aid (216-368-4530) for more information.

Program Requirements

Once admitted, students will consult with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the School of Law and the Political Science Director of Graduate Studies to determine their appropriate course of study. Political Science courses to be taken toward the J.D. must be approved, in advance of enrollment, by the Law School’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Likewise, Law courses to count toward the M.A. in Political Science must be approved, in advance of enrollment, by the Political Science Director of Graduate Studies. The Law curriculum requires a fairly standard “core” of courses to be taken in the first year. Therefore, dual-degree students generally will begin study in the law school and defer matriculation in the M.A. program until their second year.

Each J.D./M.A. student must complete a total of 97 credit hours. These credit hours can be distributed as follows:

Law School Requirements:

  • Total of 76 credit hours
  • 37 hours of Law School required courses (includes 30 credits in the first year, plus Constitutional Law (4 credits) and Professional Responsibility (3 credits), which must be taken after the first year)
  • 12-15 hours of general education requirements
  • 15 hours of LLEAP courses
  • 8 hours of experiential capstone (in final year)
  • 2-3 hours for upper-level writing requirement (depending on whether it is completed in a seminar or supervised research)

*Note: 12 credit hours of Political Science courses are counted towards the J.D. resulting in 88 total credit hours for the J.D.

Political Science Requirements:

  • Total of 21 credit hours of graduate level courses (300-level courses approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, and courses level 400 or higher)
  • 3 hours in the area of American Politics & Government
  • 3 hours in the area of Comparative Politics
  • 3 hours in the area of International Relations 
  • 3 hours in POSC 449 Research Methods
  • 9 hours of electives (can include a maximum of 9 hours of independent study (POSC 601) or thesis preparation (POSC 651))
  • Completion of either an M.A. Thesis or the Examinations (see below for more details)

*Note: 9 credit hours of Law School courses are counted towards the M.A. resulting in 30 total credit hours for the M.A.

Plan A: M.A. Thesis

An M.A. Thesis should be a major research paper equivalent to at least six hours of registration. Students shall register for POSC 651, M.A. Thesis Research, which will count towards the 30 hours of coursework required for completion of the M.A. An M.A. Thesis must be read by a committee of three members of the faculty, and defended in an oral examination with the faculty committee. The committee shall vote on approval of the thesis after the oral defense. A majority vote will suffice to approve the thesis.

Students must define their thesis topic no later than the last week of the semester before the semester in which they expect to defend the thesis. The thesis supervisor will be selected by mutual agreement between the student and the faculty member who agrees to supervise. The topic must be defined before the student registers for POSC 651, and a permit must be issued by the faculty supervisor. The student must prepare a prospectus describing the research question and research plans before the permit can be issued. The prospectus must be approved by both the faculty supervisor and the department’s Director of Graduate Studies. The Director shall appoint the two other members of the examination committee. The Director of Graduate Studies also will schedule the oral defense, with assistance from the department staff.

Plan B: M.A. Examination

For the M.A. Examination, students should be able to explain, critique, integrate and apply the arguments of leading works in two out of the three fields of American Politics and Government, Comparative Politics, and International Relations. Required upon completion of no less than 30 hours or no more than 42 hours of courses, the examination is a written test of five hours duration, with 150 minutes for each of the chosen subfields.

The examination is administered in a controlled, closed-book setting. The department maintains, on its website, M.A. Reading Lists of major scholarly works within the three fields listed above, and test questions will be based upon the expectation that the student has thoroughly studied – whether in or outside of classes – the works designated on those lists. Faculty members within each subfield write the questions for that subfield, which are then assembled by the Graduate Studies Director, who is responsible for scheduling the exam.

The student must notify his or her faculty advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies of intent to take the exam, and the two subfields chosen, at least six weeks before he or she wishes to take it. Each section of the examination will be graded by two members of the faculty. The two faculty members must agree that the student has performed acceptably on that section of the examination in order for the student to pass on that section, and the student must pass both sections in order to pass the exam.

Grading for the exam is Honors, Pass, or Fail. If failed, a student will have one calendar year in which to retake the exam. We expect the student will need at least one semester to prepare to retake the exam. During the interim, the Political Science faculty may require the student to take additional classes to aid in correcting the concerns raised by the failed exam segment or segments. If the student does not pass the exam on a second attempt then, regretfully, she or he will be separated from the department. Please note that University regulations require that students be registered for course work during any semester during which the M.A. Exam is taken. A student who does not enroll for other courses should enroll for one hour of EXAM 600 “Comprehensive Exam” (noncredit) prior to taking the exam.