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 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.

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.

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. Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis until programs reach capacity.

While previous academic or professional work in political science or politics is not required, you’ll need to demonstrate a serious commitment to a career in this field. Your personal statement on your reasons for pursuing graduate study in the program will be essential, along with the other required application materials.

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

The MA in Political Science is a 33-credit-hour program. To estimate the cost of tuition, please see the current cost per credit hour for graduate students.

The School of Public Affairs offers graduate students both merit-based and need-based financial aid. Merit awards and named scholarships are administered by the SPA Graduate Admissions Office, while need-based awards are administered by the American University Office of Financial Aid. Additional financial support is available for veterans.

All merit awards are based on your academic merit and professional experience, specifically your undergraduate grades and leadership activities as well as career-related accomplishments. Merit awards are valid for one year-they vary in amount, are typically divided evenly between the fall and spring semesters, and are not typically renewable.

We Know Success Facts

96 percent of SPA graduates are employed or in graduate school, or both