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Department of Political Science and Geography

Master of Arts Degree in Political Science

The Master of Arts degree in Political Science offers students the opportunity to develop and expand their understanding of political theories, methodologies, and substantive political affairs. The program prepares students for possible careers in city, state and federal government, international governmental and non-governmental organizations, public opinion polling, campaign management, community college teaching and other related occupations. The program also provides excellent preparation for law school and doctoral studies. Students may specialize in American Government, International Politics, or Political Theory and Public Law.

Program Admission Requirements. Students wishing to apply to the Master of Arts program in Political Science must submit the following materials to the Graduate Admissions office:

  1. an application form (available online at

  2. an application fee

  3. results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

  4. official transcripts from all collegiate institutions attended including community colleges

  5. a statement of purpose (roughly 500 words or two typed pages) indicating your interests and goals in studying political science

  6. three letters of recommendation from references who can speak to your qualifications for the graduate program (at least two of these must be from a college or university professor who can discuss and evaluate specifically your academic qualifications and potential for graduate-level study).

Applicants must satisfy all University requirements and must have completed 18 semester credit hours in upper-division undergraduate or graduate-level courses in Political Science or directly related fields in the social and/or behavioral sciences. It is strongly recommended that applicants have at least a 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 60 hours of undergraduate and graduate work. An overall grade point average of 3.0 in Political Science courses is also required. All applications are evaluated by an internal review committee to determine compliance with University and program requirements. Admission is competitive thus satisfying the requirements does not guarantee admission.

Returning Students. Master’s students who have not been in attendance for two full years will have their status changed to inactive. An inactive student may reapply to the program but they must file a new application for graduate admission, along with a nonrefundable application fee, by the application deadline and meet the catalog requirements and admission conditions in effect at the time of reapplication. All returning students will be subject to a full course review in the program. Courses over six years old may need to be repeated (see section “Repeating Courses” in Chapter 2, General Academic Regulations, in this catalog).

Students who wish to take courses in the program without earning credit toward a Master’s degree may apply as non-degree-seeking students. Upon admission to the Graduate Program, all students must meet with the Graduate Advisor of Record for the department as well as their Faculty Subfield Advisor (assigned at time of admission) before enrolling in coursework. Additionally, all graduate students should attend the Department’s Graduate Program Orientation held at the beginning of each semester and review the materials contained in the Department’s Graduate Program Handbook.

Degree Requirements. The minimum number of semester credit hours required for the degree is 36. Students without a basic foundation in statistics and/or social science research methods may be required to complete an undergraduate-level course in one of these areas before enrolling in POL 5013 Research Methods.

Degree candidates must complete the following requirements:

  1. 6 semester credit hours of methodological core courses:

    POL 5003    Political Inquiry
    POL 5013    Research Methods

    Plus 6 semester credit hours of breadth core courses from the following:

    POL 5043    International Politics
    POL 5063    Political Philosophy
    POL 5153    American Government and Politics

  2. 18 semester credit hours for the thesis option or 24 semester credit hours for the nonthesis option (see section D below) of designated elective courses in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students may receive up to 6 semester credit hours for courses taken outside of political science after consultation with their advisor.

    Students specializing in American Government must complete:

    POL 5153    American Government and Politics

    And at least 9 semester credit hours from the following:

    POL 5023    Political Economy
    POL 5033    Political Communications and Behavior
    POL 5103    Topics in American Politics
    POL 5113    Latino/a Politics
    POL 5133    Ethnic and Gender Politics
    POL 5143    Theory and the City
    POL 5163    American Political Development
    POL 5173    Policy Process
    POL 5183    Congress
    POL 5193    Presidency
    POL 5403    Topics in Political Communications and Behavior
    POL 5413    Political Psychology
    POL 5423    Campaign Management and Consulting
    POL 5433    Electoral Behavior
    POL 5443    Polling and Survey Research Techniques
    POL 5453    Political Advertising
    POL 5503    Constitutional Law and Judicial Decision-Making
    POL 5623    Intergovernmental Relations in the United States

    Students specializing in International Politics must complete:

    POL 5043    International Politics

    And at least 9 semester credit hours from the following:

    POL 5093    Politics of U.S. National Security Policy Making
    POL 5303    Topics in Comparative and International Politics
    POL 5313    Comparative Political Parties
    POL 5333    European Politics
    POL 5363    Mexican Politics
    POL 5373    Human Rights
    POL 5703    American Foreign Policy
    POL 5713    Comparative Political Systems
    POL 5723    International Organizations
    POL 5733    Political Actors and Systems in Latin America
    POL 5743    Electoral Systems in the Americas
    POL 5773    Comparative Foreign Policy
    POL 5783    International Security
    POL 5793    International Political Economy
    POL 5823    Political Economy of the Americas
    POL 5833    Business and Labor in U.S. Politics
    POL 5853    Economic Geography
    POL 5863    International Health Issues
    POL 5873    Global Governance
    POL 5903    Political Geography
    POL 5943    Threat Environments and Homeland Security and Defense

    Students specializing in Political Theory and Public Law must complete:

    POL 5063    Political Philosophy

    And at least 9 semester credit hours from the following:

    POL 5143    Theory and the City
    POL 5203    Topics in Political Theory
    POL 5223    Issues in Contemporary Political Theory
    POL 5243    Theories of Justice and Rights
    POL 5253    Issues of Immigration
    POL 5273    Contemporary Political Theory and Social Policy
    POL 5503    Constitutional Law and Judicial Decision-Making
    POL 5523    Litigation Politics
    POL 6103    Seminar in Theories of Politics and Law

  3. Students must complete the core course requirements within their first 18 hours of coursework. All students are required to pass a first-year qualifying assessment of progress in the program. This review must be completed before enrollment in further courses will be allowed. In consultation with the Faculty Subfield Advisor and Graduate Advisor of Record, students will also be required to indicate at that time which exit option they plan to pursue (see section D below). Students choosing the thesis option must take an additional 12 hours of coursework before enrolling in POL 6893 Master’s Thesis Proposal. Students choosing the nonthesis option must take an additional 18 hours and the Comprehensive Examination. (See the Department’s Graduate Program Handbook for more details.)

  4. Option 1 (with thesis): 6 semester credit hours:

    POL 6893   Master’s Thesis Proposal
    POL 6983   Master’s Thesis

    Students choosing the thesis track are required to pass an oral comprehensive examination.


    Option 2 (without thesis): Students will prepare for a Comprehensive Examination under faculty supervision and in consultation with their Faculty Subfield Advisor and Graduate Advisor of Record. In consultation with the Faculty Subfield Advisor and Graduate Advisor of Record, students will choose an exam committee, including an exam chairperson, in the semester before taking the Comprehensive Examination. The Comprehensive Examination will be evaluated as either “CR” (satisfactory performance) or “NC” (unsatisfactory performance). Students are expected to take the Comprehensive Examination during the semester in which they plan to complete the degree. The Comprehensive Examination can be attempted a total of two times and only once a semester. Credit earned for the Comprehensive Examination will not count toward the 36 semester credit hours required for the Master’s degree.

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Graduate Certificate in Security Studies

The Graduate Certificate in Security Studies (GCSS) is a 15-hour concentration available to special graduate students who have been admitted to UTSA by application through the normal graduate admissions process. Applicants should become fully familiar with the requirements for “special graduate” admission status, as discussed in the University graduate admission section of this catalog. The GCSS is a program that mainly serves the needs of San Antonio regional professionals, such as leaders in military and civilian contract functions, who require advanced education short of full degree programs and in areas directly connected with their work in emergency response, security and defense at national, state, and local levels. The Department of Political Science and Geography is responsible for all coordination of students participating in the certificate program.

The program’s goals are to expand horizons of awareness of domestic and global conditions that can reasonably be expected to impact on security and defense in a democratic society, and to deepen awareness of how political systems address particular conditions of threat arising from natural disasters and external attacks. It is assumed that most applicants will have an established record of basic expertise through their assignments in operational areas in domestic or international security in private or public organizations.

Requirements for the GCSS include 15 semester credit hours, of which 6 semester credit hours are in POL 5083 Geo-Political Context of Homeland Security and Defense and POL 5943 Threat Environments and Homeland Security and Defense; and 9 semester credit hours of electives are chosen in consultation with the program director and advisor. The list of electives is intentionally diverse and drawn from relevant existing courses across the University in order to encourage students to self-identify disciplinary interests. No course in which a grade lower than a “B” is earned may be used to complete the GCSS. Graduate credit earned at other colleges or universities cannot be applied as credit in the certificate program. Students must complete the certificate program within an 18-month period from the time of first registration.

Individuals interested in the GCSS should contact the Graduate Advisor for the GCSS in the Department of Political Science and Geography. An application for admission to the certificate program must be completed online and all required supporting materials must be submitted before students may register for courses. GCSS students interested in applying to a Master’s program must apply through the Graduate School and seek degree-seeking status. Students must comply with all Graduate School and department requirements for the program they apply for.

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