The general M.A. program introduces students to the research methods of political science and to the research traditions in its various fields. Some students who complete the M.A. apply for admission to the PhD program either at UF or elsewhere.
One of the key features of the general M.A. program is its flexibility. M.A. students are required to complete 36 semester hours, including these two core courses
POS 6736 Conduct of Inquiry (offered in the fall)
POS 6737 Political Data Analysis (offered in the Spring)
Students must also complete a minimum of two graduate-level courses in one field of political science. The fields are American Government and Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Methodology, and Political Theory.
Students may complete their M.A. degree with a thesis or without writing a thesis. This choice should be made by the end of the second semester in the M.A. program.
Students in the general MA program may also apply for the Combined JD/MA Program with UF’s Levin College of Law.
UF undergraduates may also apply for the Combined BA/MA program. The main feature of this program is that up to 12 semester hours of approved graduate level political science courses may be used as dual credit for both the undergraduate and graduate degree. All other requirements for both the bachelor’s degree and the master’s degree must be met.
Each MA student must have a faculty supervisory committee in place by the end of the third semester. Supervisory Committee Chairs and members act as the student’s primary advisors, and evaluate the final thesis or paper defense. The Supervisory Committee will include a Supervisory Committee Chair (who is a graduate faculty member in the Department of Political Science) and two other members. One member of the Supervisory Committee may, but is not required to, be from outside the Department of Political Science.
Students pursuing the M.A. with Thesis option must complete 30 hours of graduate coursework, plus six hours of thesis credit (POS 6971).
Three hours of thesis credit are normally taken in each of the last two semesters. A thesis is an original piece of research that each student designs and executes, which results in a paper that would be of a quality that could be presented at a political science conference. The MA thesis defense is conducted by the student’s Supervisory Committee in the last semester of the MA program.
Students pursuing the M.A. without Thesis option are required to complete 36 semester hours of graduate course work, and defend two qualifying papers before their Supervisory Committee. There is great diversity in the topics and objectives of the qualifying papers that are submitted. Each paper and the oral defense must show the student’s ability to synthesize and understand the literature on a topic in political science, and the ability to (a) make an empirical or theoretical contribution, (b) discuss how the existing literature contributes to theory, or (c) how future research might contribute to that literature. While the student is expected to be able to discuss those matters coherently, the MA defense is not intended to examine the breadth and depth of knowledge that a PhD comprehensive exam does.
Reporting of the defense result
Following the oral defense of the thesis or the two papers, the supervisory committee will evaluate the thesis or paper defense as “pass” or “fail.” The chair of the supervisory committee is responsible for communicating the results to the student and to the Graduate Coordinator and Graduate Secretary.
Within two working days of the conclusion of the defense, any member of the Supervisory committee (other than the student’s supervisory chair) may propose to the Graduate Coordinator that a passing thesis or paper defense be designated as “Pass with Distinction.” Upon receipt of that nomination, the Graduate Coordinator will individually poll the other members of the Supervisory Committee (other than the student’s supervisory chair), and will designate the thesis or paper defense as a “Pass with Distinction” with the unanimous concurrence of the Supervisory committee members (excluding the student’s supervisory chair). If the Graduate Coordinator is the student’s supervisory chair, the Associate Chair of the Department will act in her/his place for this purpose.