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Master of Political Science

The Master of Arts program may be pursued either as a terminal degree or as the first phase of a prospective Doctor of Philosophy program. The Master's Degree, which requires 32 credit hours of completed course work, normally takes about three to four semesters of full-time graduate study. University policy requires that all course work be completed within a period of six years unless an extension of time is granted by the Dean of the Graduate School of Public Affairs. Enrollment at another university's graduate program counts as part of the six-year period. A maximum of six hours of transfer credit may be allowed towards the MA degree.

MA degree requirements

The MA program in political science requires 32 credits. All MA students must complete three requirements: RPOS 516 (Introduction to Political Inquiry), either RPOS 517 (Quantitative Methods) or RPOS 618 (Qualitative Methods), and RPOS 698 (Masters Capstone). Students must enroll in additional courses in political science to accumulate the remaining 20 credits. In order to structure the MA experience, the political science faculty have designed six optional tracks. The tracks constitute recommendations by our faculty for how students may get the most out of their degrees. Completing a track is not required in order to receive a degree, but students who opt to finish a track will have a better and more integrated experience in our program and will gain more focused and concentrated sets of skills that will facilitate career planning during and after completion of the degree. The department has constructed tracks in several different areas. The portfolio and essay options for RPOS 698 apply to all tracks, but the specific format of the portfolio may differ from track to track.


MA Capstone

The MA capstone experience may be fulfilled in one of two ways, either through the development and completion of an MA Essay, or through the submission of a portfolio. Note that the portfolio option assumes immersion in a concentrated set of courses and thus will work best if combined with one of the recommended tracks.

Essay Option

The master’s essay is a substantial research paper of a length and quality appropriate for formal presentation at a New York State or regional political science annual meeting. The Master’s Essay must be written under the direction of the student’s advisor or another appropriate faculty member in the political science department. It must incorporate original investigation of a significant research question and must go beyond a summary or evaluation of extant literature.

Portfolio Option

The portfolio consists of no fewer than three discrete writing projects that, taken together, demonstrate mastery of a specific area within political science (i.e., one of the recommended tracks). Writing projects completed in classes form the basis for the portfolio, but these projects should go at least one round of revisions prior to acceptance as part of the portfolio. Each item in the completed portfolio should not be substantially different than an A paper, report, or replication exercise in a class. The portfolio is to be compiled under the supervision of the student’s advisor or another appropriate faculty member in the political science department.

Students enrolling in the doctoral program

Students pursuing a master’s degree who have been admitted to the Ph.D. program at the University at Albany may substitute successful completion of the Ph.D. comprehensive examination (in both a major and second field) and dissertation prospectus defense for the master's capstone requirement.