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Political Wonk

The Master
of Political Science

Chief of staff. Lobbyist. Advocate. Elected official.

Political wonks know how to make their mark.

Political Science (MA)

Offered by the Department of Government, School of Public Affairs.

Admission to the Program

In addition to meeting the minimum university requirements for graduate study, applicants must earn a satisfactory score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). All applicants are evaluated on the basis of scholastic achievement in their last 60 credit hours of undergraduate work, two letters of recommendation and an essay on career interest. Applicants who wish to be considered for departmental honor awards must apply for full-time status.

Degree Requirements

  • 33 credit hours of approved graduate work
  • Written comprehensive examination in American politics, applied politics, or comparative politics, depending on track
  • Tracks: Political Science, or Applied Politics

Course Requirements


Complete one of the following:

Political Science: American Politics

Comparative Politics or Political Theory
  • 600 level course in comparative politics or political theory (3)
15 credit hours in American politics including:
Additional Courses
  • 9 credit hours selected from political science or other disciplines, which may include 3 credit hours of GOVT-691 Internship

Political Science: Comparative Politics

Political Theory (3 credit hours)
  • One course in political theory
American Politics (3 credit hours)
  • One 600 level course in American politics
9 credit hours from the following:
Additional Courses
  • 9 credit hours selected from political science or other disciplines, which may include 3 credit hours of GOVT-691 Internship

Applied Politics

3-4 credits from the following:
Two 1 credit courses from the following:
  • GOVT-521 Topics in Campaign Management (1) :
  • Campaign Field (1 credit hour required)

    Strategy, Theme and Message (1 credit hour required)

    Political Writing (1 credit hour required)

    or other approved topics

  • GOVT-524 Topics in Public Affairs and Advocacy (1) :
  • Survey Research, Focus Groups, Media (1 credit hour required)

    Lobbying and the Internet (1 credit hour required)

    Grassroots Lobbying (1 credit hour required)

    or other approved topics

  • GOVT-685 Topics in Women and Politics (1-4) :
  • Women in Congress (1 credit hour required)

    Women's Health Policy (1 credit hour required)

    Politics of Women and National Security (1 credit hour required)

    or other approved topics

18-19 credit hours from the following:

Apply to SPA Graduate Programs

Click below to start or continue your School of Public Affairs application.


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Master's Program Experience

Through a rich academic curriculum, the unparalleled ability to connect students with experts, and a prime location at the center of the action, the Government Department at American University opens the door to our political system and provides future leaders with the knowledge they need to excel in the political arena.

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Program Goals

Upon completion of this program, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the core questions and basic literature in at least one subfield of political science.
  2. Apply political science theories to real world problems.
  3. Show a fluency in reading quantitative research findings and the ability to undertake basic analysis using quantitative tools.
  4. Show familiarity with basic issues of research design.
  5. Demonstrate mastery of writing through a range of assignments, including empirical research papers, theoretical essays, and other forms of expository writing.