Department of Political Science

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M.A. Program

Admission Requirements Financial Aid Program Requirements  MA Thesis (Plan A)  MA Examinations (Plan B)

Admission Requirements

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 have a minimum GPA of 3.2 overall and a minimum GPA of 3.4 in Political Science courses.
  • 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.
  • 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 department has limited funds to help students with up to half of the cost of tuition. Information on financial aid and student loans is available from the Office of University Financial Aid (216-368-4530).

Program Requirements

M.A. students are expected to acquire and exhibit general knowledge of the discipline and consult with the Graduate Studies Director prior to enrollment each semester to determine the most appropriate courses to take. Each M.A. student must complete the following within five years of matriculation at CWRU:

  • Total of 30 semester hours of graduate level courses (300-level courses approved by the Graduate Studies Director 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
  • 18 credit 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)

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.

Page last modified: October 20, 2015