Three students having a discussion at the Empire Plaza in Albany, NY.

Master of Arts in
Political Science

Program of Study


The MA program in political science requires a minimum of 31 credits. You will complete two core courses, as well as a masters capstone. Enroll in additional graduate courses in political science, public administration and policy or other relevant fields to accumulate the remaining credits.

Core Courses

  • Introduction to Political Inquiry
  • Qualitative Research Methods OR Quantitative Methods

Master's Capstone

You will complete the capstone requirement by writing a master's essay under the direction of your advisor or another appropriate faculty member in the political science department.


To get the most out of the program, you are encouraged to select elective courses that will help you to develop expertise in a particular subfield or area of inquiry in political science. 

You may choose to fulfill some electives by completing an internship with the state legislature or an election campaign committee, government agency, nonprofit organization, or lobby firm.

Area of Study Requirements
American Politics

This track provides you with a practical education on the functioning of American governmental systems. It is recommended if you're interested in a career in any facet of public employment or with non-governmental organizations that interface with government.

In this track, you get to choose:

  • Three courses in institutions, political processes and lobbying, and state and local politics.

Sample subjects: American political development; chief executive office; federalism; women and politics; government and mass media; community politics.

  • Two political science or public administration and policy courses.

Sample subjects: constitutional law, founding of the American national government; citizen participation; urban community development; U.S. housing policy; inequality and public policy; politics of environmental regulation.

Applied American Politics (Elections, Lobbying, and Advocacy)

This track is recommended if you're interested in pursuing a career in elections, lobbying, and/or other forms of government advocacy. The coursework is similar to the American politics track, except three electives should focus on legislative process, political parties, political behavior, campaigns and elections, politics of organized interests, or legislative or campaign internship.

Justice, Democracy, and Law

This track is advised if you're interested in questions of justice, equality, inclusion, citizenship and basic rights as well as the role of the state in affecting these fundamental principles. It allows you to strengthen your understanding of theory to prepare for law school or a politically focused legal career.

Coursework includes:

  • Field Seminars in Political Theory AND Public Law
  • Choose two: Political Philosophy; Contemporary Political Theory; American Political Theory
  • Choose two: Constitutional Law; Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; Law and Policy; Law and Society
Law and Politics

This track provides you with advanced coursework and training in the study of law from multiple perspectives.

It serves three different groups of students. First, if you aspire to attend a highly competitive law school to have the opportunity to engage in advanced study of law before applying, and to encounter a broader set of perspectives than might typically be included in a JD degree. Second, if you hope to pursue a PhD you can gain relevant course work and skill development to ease that transition. Finally, the track provides you with strong writing and analytical skill development. 

Coursework includes:

  • Field Seminar in Public Law
  • Judicial Power
  • Law and Society
  • Choose two: Constitutional Law; Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; Law and Policy; Election Law; Justice Reform in Latin America
Public Policy

If you're interested in politics and public policy, this track gives you the skills and substantive knowledge to understand and analyze the politics of public policy. Unlike a traditional MPP degree, which focuses on policy analysis, or an MPA degree, which focuses on administration and management, the MA in political science with a concentration in public policy provides you with a broader approach to policy for work in government, non-profits, or for companies on policy-related issues. 

Coursework includes: 

  • Quantitative AND Qualitative Methods
  • Research Design
  • Field Seminar in Public Policy
  • Comparative Public Policy
  • State and Local Policy
  • One or more courses in subjects such as inequality, migration, foreign policy, and politics of health policy.
Career Outcomes

The MA in Political Science prepares you for careers in both the public and private sectors.

Sample job titles:

  • Political Aide
  • Research Coordinator
  • State Assembly or Congressional Staff
  • Lobbyist/Liaison
  • Nonprofit Administrator
  • Government Watchdog Analyst
  • Public Servant
Victor Asal with research interns

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Rockefeller College and its world-class faculty, challenging courses, professional development programs, and important internships.”

- Peter W. Brusoe, BA ’03, MA ’04, PhD

Office of Career Development

The Office of Career Development offers comprehensive career counseling services, including helping students and alumni identify rewarding public affairs careers. We provide résumé writing and job search advice from the initial search through acceptance of a position. Within six months of receiving their degrees nearly all of our graduates are working in a position in their chose field. In addition, many of our students are accepted into prestigious postgraduate fellowship programs such as the New York State Excelsior Service Fellowship; many of these opportunities lead to permanent employment.


The Office of Career Development

[email protected]

Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Option

If you’re a current UAlbany undergraduate student with at least a 3.2 GPA, you can save time and money by beginning your graduate degree coursework as early as your junior year. Up to 12 academic credits, billed at the undergraduate rate, will count towards both degrees – so you can complete your combined program in only 5 years and spend less than you would if you completed each program separately.

Contact your undergraduate advisor to see if you’re eligible and learn about your combined graduate program options.

UAlbany graduate with confetti at Commencement.

Admissions Requirements


Fall (Priority for funding consideration): February 1
Fall (Regular admission): July 15
Spring: December 1
Summer: Not Available

Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Statement of goals
    The statement is generally one to two pages discussing what you have to offer the program and what you wish to get out of the program.  It should include a brief description of the applicant's field of interest, related background, desired area of study and research emphasis or career goals.
Special Notes

This program offers an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience in the course listing as an option to fulfill course requirements. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If applicants have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of the intended academic program.

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

Master of Arts
  1. The student understands the essence of political inquiry in the social sciences.
    • Can distinguish among major epistemological and ontological perspectives from across the discipline.
    • Asks and answers empirical questions in political science.
  2. The student is trained in and understands a variety of methods of political science.
    • Understands basic methodology for either (or both) quantitative and/or qualitative research.
    • Selects appropriate method(s) for the research questions being asked.
    • Assesses the strengths and weaknesses of different methodological tools.
    • Understands and can make use of the varieties of evidence (e.g., survey data, ethnographic findings, experimental findings).
  3. The student develops expertise in a substantive area of political science.
    • The student demonstrates familiarity with the key ideas, institutions, interests and identities at work in American politics, comparative politics and/or political theory.
  4. The student either: executes a major independent research project or a portfolio of excellence.
    • The student utilizes the skills developed in the program to write a MA thesis, supervised by a faculty member, that explores a substantive question in political science.