Master of Arts in Political Science

M.A. program contact

Program Director: Xiaoyu Pu
Phone: (775) 682-7759

*The M.A. in political science handbook is currently being revised. To request a current version, contact the Program Director, Xiaoyu Pu.

Application deadlines

Fall application & assistantship deadline: January 15

For funding assistance, applicants must also fill out the assistantship form by January 15th.

The Master of Arts program has the following general goals:

  • To offer students an opportunity for advanced, specialized courses in the discipline of political science, leading to a graduate degree
  • To prepare students for additional graduate work leading to a doctoral degree and a career as a political scientist
  • To offer students the opportunity to prepare for a career in teaching, politics, public service and government or to complement their present careers
  • To support of university-based research involving issues of politics and public policy

The courses in political science cover a full range of the discipline, both in terms of substance and methodology. Courses in research methods provide the skills necessary for sophisticated analysis of political processes, institutions and policies. More specialized interests are developed through independent research courses and projects tackled by students.

Master's degree coursework

The program requires the student to fulfill specified coursework over the course of the student's degree. Students have three tracks to complete the M.A. degree and the number of credits required depends on the track the student takes to complete the degree. Students should discuss with their advisor which track is appropriate for them given the academic and career objectives.

Track one: thesis option (30 credits)

The thesis option is highly recommended for students who think they may go on later to graduate work at the doctoral level. For students who may pursue a political science Ph.D. later, this option gives them experience with writing a significant piece of original research that may lay the foundation for work at that level. This writing is crucial for professors to evaluate the ability to perform at the higher level and will often form the basis for letters of recommendation to Ph.D. programs. Students selecting this option do no take comprehensive examinations as the literature review and analysis of the thesis will be extensive enough to judge the student's depth of knowledge in the field of study.

Track two: professional paper option (33 credits)

The professional paper option is for students who want to write a publishable quality research a paper that does not require the intense background and review that a thesis will require. Students are required to take a comprehensive examination in their major field before beginning their professional paper.

Track three: non-thesis option (36 credits)

The non-thesis option is highly recommended for students who already are engaged in their career fields and are seeking to use their degree for professional advancement. A thesis is not required, but additional coursework is needed to demonstrate appropriate knowledge in the students major field. Once the student completes all course work, they may schedule their comprehensive examination.

Minimum requirements

  • Undergraduate degree (B.A./B.S.)
  • Minimum 2.75 overall GPA (B.A./B.S.) or a 3.0 GPA for last two years of B.A./B.S.
  • GRE Scores: verbal and quantitative scores should be a minimum of 154, though some exceptions are made for students based upon their skill-set and other qualifications (or GMAT equivalent)
  • 18 credit hours (six courses) of coursework in political science/social science

Please note that these are minimum requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to the program. Students are admitted on an increasingly competitive basis. The admission committees take into consideration a student's overall record, as well as the department's ability to accommodate a student's research/teaching interest. Application materials need to be mailed to the Graduate School. Please check the Graduate School website for additional information and deadlines.

To apply

The following documents must be submitted to the Graduate School, University of Nevada, Reno:

  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • GRE/GMAT scores
  • Three letters of recommendation of which a minimum of two are from professors with whom you have taken and completed coursework.
  • Statement of purpose: This one-to-two page statement should be 500 words, double-spaced and printed in a standard font. In this statement, you should discuss your career and educational goals and how those goals fit into the research specializations of the department. Please make sure your name is at the top of the each page.

A departmental selection committee makes the admission decisions.