MA in Political Science

A student writing notes in a class

In the Master of Arts in Political Science program, students develop a foundation of academic study in their field of interest. MA students enroll to prepare for further graduate study (PhD, law, etc.) or to “craft their own adventure” beyond the BA basics. MA students may also take courses alongside doctoral students and are exposed to the same material, with courses as varied as Public Opinion and Psychology, Social Movements, International Security, and Game Theory, among others.

In addition to coursework, students participate in scholarly debates in their chosen field and hone statistical research techniques. Many go on to careers as political campaign strategists, professors, leaders in government and business and expert contributors at top media outlets.



The deadline for our MA program is April 1, 2025, for Fall 2025 admission. Our next PhD application deadline is Dec. 15, 2024, for Fall 2025 admission. If you have questions, please contact the Department Administrator by email: [email protected].


All MA students must complete 15 of the total 33 required credits in one track:

  • American Politics
  • World Politics

Review the Bulletin requirements for more details on each concentration.

Comprehensive Exams

At the end of their studies, all MA students must pass a comprehensive examination in one of the departmental tracks: American politics, world politics or law and politics.


Soon after their arrival in the department, students should speak with the professors who are the conveners for their chosen exam track. Professors will advise students about coursework that is most appropriate, combining the parameters of the field with the student's interests. Check with the graduate director about who the conveners are for the current year.

Plan of Study

During the first semester, and no later than the second, students should fill out a plan of study in consultation with the director of graduate studies. This allows students and their advisors to plan for the entire program, and determine which classes are necessary to prepare for comprehensive exams.

Exam Dates and Grading

Opportunities to take the exams are offered once per year in May. An extra exam may be scheduled in April for MA students planning to graduate in May. Be sure to contact the graduate advisor in advance to arrange this if necessary. 

Comprehensive exams are evaluated as fail, bare pass, satisfactory pass, or pass with distinction. Students must receive a grade of bare pass or better on the MA exam in order to fulfill this degree requirement. Students may retake an exam once, if necessary; under no circumstances may a student take a comprehensive examination a third time. Failure to demonstrate the required level of performance on comprehensive examinations after two efforts will result in termination from the program.

Anwar Gargash

“I moved from being an academic to business to government, so a lot of the things I learned at GW — looking at the macro picture, being able to look strategically — I took with me.”

Anwar Gargash, BA ’81, MA ’84
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

Course Requirements 

Course List
15 credits (five courses) in one of the three tracks listed below and 18 credits (six courses) selected from among all tracks.
American politics track
PSC 6103Approaches to Public Policy Analysis
PSC 6114Theories of Judicial Review
PSC 6346The Politics of U.S. Foreign Policy
PSC 6347U.S. Foreign Policy Traditions
PSC 6348Politics of U.S. National Security Policy
PSC 8210American Political Process
PSC 8211Urban Politics
PSC 8212Urban Policy Problems
PSC 8213Judicial Politics
PSC 8215Law, Politics, and Society
PSC 8216American Presidency
PSC 8217Executive Branch Politics
PSC 8218Legislative Politics
PSC 8219Political Parties and Elections
PSC 8220Public Opinion and Political Psychology
PSC 8221Interest-Group Politics
PSC 8226Politics and Organizations
PSC 8229Politics and Public Policy
PSC 8286Selected Topics in American Politics
SMPA 6207Political Persuasion and Public Opinion
SMPA 6210Media and Foreign Policy
SMPA 6272Media Bias, Power, and Democracy
SOC 6230Foundations of Research Methods
SOC 6231Quantitative Methods
SOC 6245Race Relations
SOC 6248Race and Urban Redevelopment
SOC 6250Urban Sociology
SOC 6263Race and Crime
SOC 6265Gender, Welfare, and Poverty
SOC 6266Gender and Criminal Justice
SOC 6268Race, Gender, and Class
World politics track
PSC 6330Comparative Government and Politics
PSC 6333Comparative Politics of Russia and Eurasia
PSC 6336The Political Economy of China, India, and Beyond
PSC 6338U.S. Foreign Economic Policy
PSC 6345Comparative Foreign Policy
PSC 6349International Security Politics
PSC 6350Foreign Policy Analysis—Selected Topics
PSC 6351Civil-Military Relations
PSC 6360Western European Politics
PSC 6361Politics of European Integration
PSC 6362Nation-Building in the Balkans
PSC 6364Comparative Governments and Politics of Central And Eastern Europe
PSC 6366Government and Politics of Russia
PSC 6367Post-Soviet Politics
PSC 6368Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy
PSC 6370Politics of China I
PSC 6371Politics of China II
PSC 6372Foreign Policy of China
PSC 6373Political Economy of Industrializing Asia
PSC 6374Korean Politics
PSC 6377Comparative Politics of the Middle East
PSC 6379Government and Politics of Africa
PSC 6383Comparative Politics of Latin America
PSC 6388Topics in Comparative Politics
PSC 6390Politics and Culture
PSC 6439International Political Economy
PSC 6440Theory in International Relations
PSC 6442Politics and Practice of International Institutions
PSC 6444Politics of International Law
PSC 6456Origins of Major Wars and Terrorism
PSC 6457Arms Control and Disarmament
PSC 6465The International Politics of Central and Eastern Europe
PSC 6467Asian Security
PSC 6475International Politics of East Asia
PSC 6476The Arab-Israeli Conflict
PSC 6478International Relations of the Middle East
PSC 6484International Relations of Latin America
PSC 6489Topics in International Relations
PSC 8333Political Violence
PSC 8334Democracy and Democratization in Comparative Perspective
PSC 8337Theories of Political Development
PSC 8338Nationalism and Nation-Building
PSC 8340Authoritarianism and Democratization
PSC 8341Theories of Ethnic Politics
PSC 8388Selected Topics in Comparative Politics
PSC 8461Military Effectiveness
IAFF 6102Global Gender Policy
IAFF 6106Nuclear Weapons
IAFF 6118Special Topics in International Affairs
IAFF 6122Development Policy and Practice
IAFF 6136Gender and Development
IAFF 6138Special Topics in International Development Studies
IAFF 6142Technology Creation/Diffusion
IAFF 6145U.S. Space Policy
IAFF 6146Space Law
IAFF 6148Space and National Security
IAFF 6151Environmental Policy
IAFF 6153Science, Technology, and National Security
IAFF 6158Special Topics in International Science and Technology Policy
IAFF 6160Defense Policy
IAFF 6163Transnational Security Issues
IAFF 6165Fundamentals of Intelligence
IAFF 6167Defense Policy and Program Analysis II
IAFF 6169Homeland Security
IAFF 6171Introduction to Conflict Resolution
IAFF 6173Security and Development
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies
IAFF 6198Special Topics in International Economic Policy
IAFF 6208Special Topics in Global Communication
IAFF 6222Special Topics in International Policy and Practice
IAFF 6302Taiwan: Internal Development and Foreign Policy
IAFF 6305U.S.-South Asia Relations
IAFF 6308International Relations of South Asia
IAFF 6318Special Topics in Asian Studies
IAFF 6338Special Topics in European and Eurasian Studies
IAFF 6342Drug Trafficking in the Americas
IAFF 6358Special Topics in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies
IAFF 6362Regional Security in Middle East
IAFF 6363Political Economy of the Middle East
IAFF 6364Religion and Society in the Modern Middle East
IAFF 6378Special Topics in Middle East Studies
IAFF 6501Quantitative Analysis for International Affairs Practitioners
Law and politics track
PSC 6103Approaches to Public Policy Analysis
PSC 6113The Constitution: History and Ideas
PSC 6114Theories of Judicial Review
PSC 6187Selected Topics in Political Theory
PSC 6444Politics of International Law
PSC 8210American Political Process
PSC 8213Judicial Politics
PSC 8215Law, Politics, and Society
PSC 8217Executive Branch Politics
PSC 8218Legislative Politics
PSC 8219Political Parties and Elections
PSC 8229Politics and Public Policy
EDUC 6236School Law and Policy
EDUC 6560Legal Problems in Higher Education
HIST 6312The Law of Race and Slavery
HIST 6370U.S. Legal History
LAW 6214Constitutional Law I
PHIL 6242Philosophy, Law, and Social Policy
PPPA 6075Law and the Public Administrator
SOC 6261Sociology of Law
SOC 6263Race and Crime
WGSS 6266Gender and Criminal Justice
Other requirements
Successful completion of a comprehensive examination.