Freestanding M.A. Program

What is the structure of the program?

The M.A. program is designed to provide all students with advanced training in political science and political science research methods. Students take at least five courses in the Department of Political Science and become proficient one one of the research tools used in the discipline (e.g., quantitative methods and formal modeling). At the same time, students can develop their curriculum around a specific area of interest or subfield. Click here for more information about degree requirements.

What is political science?

Political science is an academic discipline focused on understanding the exercise of power in a variety of settings. The subfield of American politics focuses on party politics, elections, the branches of government, public policy, social movements, and other political and governmental issues in the United States. The subfield of comparative politics looks at similar issues in countries other than the United States, and tries to find out how differences in culture, levels of development, social structures, and forms of government influence the ways in which politics are conducted around the world. The subfield of international relations studies the relationships among states in the international system and also looks at international institutions, transnational organizations, and the role of norms and law in international affairs. The subfield of political theory focuses on normative issues such as justice and legitimacy in politics, both through the study of the history of political thought and by seeking to make original contributions to thinking on classic problems.

Why Columbia's Master of Arts in political science?

Our Master of Arts program maintains a strong focus on political science research and analysis. By providing access to Ph.D.-level courses and involvement in the intellectual environment of the department, including stimulating co-curricular workshops and seminars, we expose M.A. students to the highest quality of research. Moreover, the department offers a one-semester proseminar tailored specifically to introduce M.A. students to the research being done in the department, the approaches of the different subfields, and the most recent developments in the discipline of political science.

Another advantage of Columbia's M.A. program over larger programs is the size of the cohort. Since we admit only about twenty students each year, each student receives individualized advising and one-to-one mentoring from faculty in the department. 

What careers does an M.A. in political science lead to?

An M.A. in political science provides advanced study in political science and political analysis that makes our graduates strong candidates for jobs in many fields, including political consulting, government, international organizations, business, law, and journalism. The M.A. program may also represent the beginning of an academic career. The program offers professionalization workshops both for students interested in pursuing academic careers and those pursuing professional careers outside higher education.


  • The GSAS Application is available here. The M.A. application deadline is April 7, 2017.
  • The ETS code (the GSAS Institution Code for submitting TOEFL and GRE scores) is 2162.

Any and all mailed materials for the application should be submitted to the GSAS Admissions office at 107 Low Memorial Library, 535 West 116th Street, MC 4304, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027.

Please note: Students in the M.A. program who wish to continue studies toward the Ph.D. at Columbia University must apply formally to the Ph.D. program.