The Duke M.A. degree in Political Science is designed to fill the growing gap between the technical skills required by Ph.D study and undergraduate course work in political science. It is tailored to fit the needs of individuals seeking to gain additional educational training prior to embarking on careers in public policy, law, or other areas of professional activity as well as to help students prepare for Ph.D programs in the discipline.
The M.A. (Masters) degree requires a minimum of 30 units of degree credit, at least 24 of which must be graded course work, and a final examination administered by the student’s masters committee. Students must also meet the Graduate School’s resident requirements.
Practically, Political Science Master’s Degree students need to
1) take a minimum of seven one semester courses of 3 units each, at least five of which must be in political science;
2) submit an M.A. thesis;
3) demonstrate of competence in one foreign language or in statistics/formal theory. Students normally take at least one course in statistics or formal theory to satisfy this requirement; this course is in addition to the seven courses noted above; and
4) pass an oral exam in which the student explicates and defends the M. A. project. A three-member faculty committee, including at least two (2) members of the Political Science Department, must conduct the oral examination on the Master’s Thesis.
Three units of ungraded research are required (normally) in the third and fourth semesters of the program, for a total of six units. The ungraded research hours should be spent preparing the MA proposal and the thesis itself.
The M.A. thesis should demonstrate the student's ability to collect, interpret, and analyze pertinent material on a research problem. Ideally, the M.A. thesis will be a journal-style paper of approximately 30 to 50 pages. Students may choose to expand upon a seminar paper that is completed during the first three semesters of coursework to fulfill the thesis requirement. Students are required to pass an oral examination of the M.A. thesis.
The thesis must be submitted in an approved form to the Graduate School on or before April 15 for a May degree, ten days before the final day of the second summer term for a September degree, ten days before the final day of the fall semester for a December degree, and at least one week before the scheduled date of the final examination.
In the non-thesis option, the student submits two research papers which were originally written in political science graduate seminars. The student’s committee will then hold an oral exam in which the student defends these papers. If a student pursues this option, he or she will still be required to complete 30 units of degree credit, but instead of taking 6 units of research the student will take two three-unit courses beyond the eight described above.
Students who are pursuing only the M.A. degree are not eligible for departmental financial assistance.