MA Political Science (On-Campus)

Jose De Bastos, SPA/MA '17
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Washington, DC is Your Classroom

The MA in Political Science at AU’s School of Public Affairs prepares you to compete and lead in the political arena—on Capitol Hill, in political campaigns, and in non-profits, think tanks, or consulting firms. You’ll build your expertise in campaign management, public affairs advocacy, and analysis of the political process.

The Art & Science of Politics & Policy

This degree equips you with the kind of critical thinking skills imperative to dissecting systems of government and analyzing political activity and behavior. Our students learn the art of policymaking along with the theory and practice of politics within different political systems. Our dedicated faculty help you explore the interaction between domestic and foreign policy and problems relating to urban and rural development in emerging nations, as well as democratization and political change. What’s more, you’ll have opportunities to research how the American political system influences public policy and political behavior.

Tailor the Program to Your Interest

Through our core curriculum, our students examine critical questions at the core of political science, apply political science theories to real world problems, and become fluent in empirical research design, evaluation, and quantitative methods. The three concentrations of American, Comparative, and Applied Politics allow you to focus your studies in your area of interest. Concentrations are an ideal way to build upon areas of expertise and showcase that expertise on your resume, online portfolios, LinkedIn, and other social media profiles.

Excel in the Political Arena

Our rich academic curriculum and unparalleled ability to connect students with experts is enhanced by our location in the heart of the nation’s capital. With Washington as your classroom, you’ll be able to gain experience on Capitol Hill, in the executive branch, and on K Street. Our students experience politics as both a science and a professional practice. If you want to gain the skills and knowledge today to become one of the leading political practitioners of tomorrow, the MA in Political Science at the School of Public Affairs is the place for you.


This concentration includes courses covering the American presidency, executive branch, and legislative process, as well as political theory. Students can choose from a variety of seminars with topics ranging from public opinion and political behavior to elections, political parties, and interest groups.

This concentration considers political institutions and practice from a comparative perspective. Courses have focused on democratization past, present, and future; social and political movements, ethnicity, and nationalism; and political violence, among other topics.

Note: SPA does not admit students in International Relations. Students interested in International Relations specifically should consider applying to American University’s School of International Service.

This concentration explores American public policy, public affairs, and advocacy. Courses examine a broad range of topics, from the art and craft of lobbying to women and political leadership to the strategies, themes, and messaging of campaign management.

Degree Requirements
Financial Info

The MA in Political Science requires 33 credit hours of approved graduate work for students entering the program with a bachelor's degree. At least 18 of these credit hours must be in 600-level courses. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 in all coursework is required to remain in good standing and to earn the degree. Full-time status is considered to be nine credit hours per semester. Students are expected to complete the degree within two years.

The program requires one three-hour written comprehensive examination in your selected concentration area. You must complete two research courses, as well as concentration courses prior to taking the examination.

Concentration Research Requirements

More information about course requirements can be found here.

For more information, please contact the SPA Graduate Admissions Office at 202-885-6230 or

The School of Public Affairs operates on a rolling admissions basis for our graduate programs. This means that applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis until programs reach capacity for either Spring or Fall entry. While previous academic or professional work in the career field is not required, your application file should demonstrate a serious commitment to a career in this field. Please consult the following web resources to learn more about building an application file for the program:

Application Requirements
International Student Application and Admission

For more information, please contact the SPA Office of Graduate Admissions at 202-885-6230 or

Please consult SPA’s Tuition and Funding page to gain an understanding of the cost of tuition, student fees, and associated discretionary costs.

All admitted students—domestic and international--who meet the priority deadlines for Spring and Fall entry (November 1 and February 15, respectively) are considered for merit aid as part of a separate review process. An admitted student’s application file is the basis of review. There is no separate application required for consideration. Merit aid options consist of partial tuition remission, graduate assistantships, and a limited number of named scholarships. All inquiries about SPA merit aid should be directed to

All domestic students are encouraged to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if they wish to apply for Federal student Loans. American University's FAFSA code is 001434. The Office of Financial Aid (OFA) at American University will review this information and will notify you of your eligibility. Questions may be directed to

90 percent

of SPA graduates are employed or in graduate school, or both within six months of graduation

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