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Department of Political Science

Graduate Program

- Political Science MA students presenting original research projects at a poster session in Professor Krueger's course on public opinion.


Master of Arts (M.A.) Degree in Political Science

The M.A. degree program offers specializations in international relations, comparative government, American politics, and public policy. The program lends itself to close student-faculty working relationships, and to interdisciplinary work in fields such as environmental policy, international development, Russian studies, marine affairs, and political and social thought.

Application to the Program

Admission is on a rolling basis.  Students are encouraged to complete their applications for fall semester matriculation by August 15th and December 15th for spring semester matriculation. 

Applications must include: two letters of recommendation, a copy of their official undergraduate transcripts, a resume, and a personal statement.  The GRE test is only required for students who finished with an undergraduate GPA below 3.0.  The GRE requirement is waived for applicants with an undergraduate GPA 3.0 or above or those that have already earned a previous graduate degree. To apply, please complete the required online application

IMPORTANT: any other application materials should be sent directly to the graduate director, Marc Hutchison.

Marc Hutchison, Political Science M.A. Director
Department of Political Science
University of Rhode Island
Washburn Hall
Kingston, RI 02881

After the complete application is submitted, the program director makes his/her recommendation to the Graduate School. The Graduate School will, in turn, notify the student of their decision.

Students are encouraged to email the graduate director, Marc Hutchison, ( with any questions concerning their application.

Regulations and Requirements

Successful completion of the M.A. program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate study (at least half of which must be at the 500 level and above) and a written comprehensive exam in two fields of political science, followed by an oral exam. Students writing a thesis must present an oral defense of their thesis in lieu of the oral exam. These exams are scheduled at least once a year, and are usually taken during one's final year in the program.

All M.A. candidates are required to complete two core graduate seminars:


  1. PSC 553 "Scope and Methods in Political Science"
  2. PSC 583 "American Politics" or PSC 580 "International Relations Theory"

In addition, candidates must take at least eight additional courses at the graduate level, with no more than four of these outside the department.

Transfer Credit
Transfer credit can be requested for graduate work taken at another accredited institution of higher learning. Such credits may not exceed 20 percent of the total credits required for the student's plan of study.

Non-Matriculated Credit
Up to six non-matriculated credits in Political Science may be used to fulfill M.A. degree requirements.

To remain in good standing students are required to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all graduate courses. Students expecting to receive their M.A. degree in May must inform the secretary in the Political Science Department office no later than March 1 of the year they intend to graduate, so that they may be nominated for graduation. Students applying to receive the degree in December must do so no later than October 5.

Thesis Option
The department offers both a thesis and a non-thesis option for the M.A. Both require a minimum of 30 credits of graduate study and the submission of two comprehensive exams, as explained above. Students intending to go on to doctoral programs are encouraged to consider writing a thesis. Up to nine hours credit may be given for work on the thesis. Arrangements for the thesis include a detailed proposal approved by a supervising professor, a faculty committee, and the chair. Candidates choosing the non-thesis option must present a major seminar paper in lieu of the thesis.