Degree Requirements

For the M.A. Degree

In order to qualify for the Master of Arts degree, students must meet the following requirements.

Residence Requirement

Course Requirements

Research Tool Requirements

Good Standing

Residence Requirement

In addition to registering for individual courses, students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are required to register for residence at the University

Two Residence Units are required for the Master of Arts degree in political science.

Consult the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Bulletin for further detail on residence requirements.

Course Requirements

Students in the M.A. program must complete (within one academic year) a minimum of eight graduate-level political science courses for a total of at least 30 points, including:

  • two colloquia or seminars (8000- or 9000-level courses) offered by the Department of Political Science, or, with prior approval of the Director of the M.A. program, advanced graduate courses that include the requirement of writing a paper;
  • three additional courses offered by the Department of Political Science, normally in one of the four subfields of political science (i.e., American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory);
  • three additional courses offered by the Department of Political Science or, with prior approval of the Director of the M.A. program, courses offered by another department that relate closely to political science.

One of the two sets of courses in the non-colloquium section of the requirement must be completed with an average grade of B+ or better. The other set of courses in the non-colloquium section of the requirement may include up to two courses completed for R credit; however, courses offered in fulfillment of the research tools requirement must be completed for examination credit.

Course Requirements Beginning Fall 2017

Students in the M.A. Program must complete (within one academic year) a minimum of eight graduate-level political science courses for a total of at least 30 points, including:

  • two colloquia or seminars (8000- or 9000-level courses) offered by the Department of Political Science, or, with prior approval of the Director of the M.A. program, advanced graduate courses that include the requirement of writing a paper;
  • three additional courses offered by the Department of Political Science, normally in one of the four subfields of political science (i.e., American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory);
  • two additional courses offered by the Department of Political Science or, with prior approval of the Director of the M.A. program, courses offered by another department that relate closely to political science.
  • The MA Proseminar Course (POLS GR5000)

One of the two sets of courses in the non-colloquium section of the requirement must be completed with an average grade of B+ or better. The other set of courses in the non-colloquium section of the requirement may include up to two courses completed for R credit; however, courses offered in fulfillment of the research tools requirement must be completed for examination credit.

MA Proseminar Requirement

The course was created to introduce students to the different subfields of the discipline by presenting various perspectives on one key topic in political science. This year the course focuses on the topic of Democracy, a concept that has been at the center of the political discourse for a long time, both in democratic and non-democratic regimes. Throughout the course, both theoretical and empirical debates surrounding the study of democracy are explored.

Although the specific topic may change from year to year, the goal and structure of the course will remain the same: to contribute to the students' understanding of an important topic in political science and discuss it through the lens of the different subfields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. By doing so, students will also learn the technical language, important concepts, and different methodological approaches of each subfield.

Research Tool Requirements

For the M.A. degree, students must demonstrate command of one research tool selected from the following list:

  • a reading knowledge of a foreign language, demonstrated by successfully passing the proficiency exam offered by the relevant language department, or by placing out of the fourth year on the placement exam offered in those departments that do not offer a proficiency exam (for example, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures). Native speakers of a language other than English may offer their native language in satisfaction of this requirement;
  • an approved two-course sequence in quantitative analysis with an average grade of B or better;
  • an approved two-course sequence in formal modeling with an average grade of B or better;
  • one course in qualitative methodology in combination with any one of the above quantitative or formal modeling courses with an average grade of B or better;
  • a comparable level of proficiency in a comparable research tool, approved in writing by the M.A. Program Director upon recommendation of the student’s adviser.
  • Courses taken to fulfill the research tool requirement can count toward the 8 courses for the degree.

Two-course sequences that fulfill the Research Tool requirement are:

Quantitative analysis:

  • POLS GU4710 and GU4712
  • POLS GU4710 and GU4714
  • POLS GU4710 and GU4730
  • POLS GU4714 and GU4790
  • POLS GU4764 and any above 4000-level quantitative courses
  • POLS GU4768 and any above 4000-level quantitative courses

Formal modeling:

  • POLS GU4700 and GU4730
  • POLS GU4730 and GU4732

Qualitative methodology:

  • POLS GU4702 (Methods of Inquiry and Research Design)
  • POLS GR4780 (Qualitative & Interpretative Methods in Political Science)
  • SOC GR6091 (Historical Method & Documentary Analysis)
  • Or an alternative approved by the DGS

Languages used to fulfill the requirement are to be chosen in consultation with the adviser from among those encompassing a significant literature in political science, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. Certain other languages necessary for the student’s research interests may, upon approval by the student’s adviser and the M.A. Program Director, be offered as a foreign language. English may not be offered as a foreign language.

 

Good Academic Standing in a Degree Program

Good standing in the Graduate School involves two components: academic good standing within the student’s department and administrative good standing in the Graduate School.

To be considered in good academic standing, students must make satisfactory academic progress as determined by their department. Satisfactory progress for M.A. candidates includes but is not limited to:

  1. Acquiring an advisor
  2. Meeting time-to-degree requirements for the M.A. degree
  3. Completing degree requirements and maintaining superior quality of work
  4. Maintaining a cumulative grade point average (GPA)* of at least 3.0
  5. Fulfilling GSAS pedagogical requirements and responsibilities
  6. Meeting other criteria specified by the department.

Departments or programs should communicate the express criteria for good academic standing to their students; candidates should be familiar with them.

Good Administrative Standing in the Graduate School

Additionally, students are expected to remain in compliance with all applicable administrative policies and procedures of the University such as those of the Columbia Libraries, University Housing, etc.

Consequences for failing to make academic progress or adhere to applicable administrative policies and procedures may include academic or administrative warning, probation, suspension, or dismissal.

* The cumulative GPA is derived from all courses in which a student has registered and received a grade.

GSAS Policy on Good Standing