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Graduate Program Description
The department offers advanced study in American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Philosophy. It displays a distinctive blend of philosophical and practical concerns within a tradition of friendly debate and scholarly exchange. Seminars and courses are supplemented by individual readings and informal gatherings. Both the Master's and Doctoral programs are flexible as to fields and courses, and they allow students to study in other departments and at other universities around Boston
Master of Arts Degree
The Master's program requires ten courses with at least one course taken in three of the department's four fields (American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, and Political Theory). The passing of a comprehensive examination completes the requirements of the program. A student is allowed to take two or, with permission, three courses in other departments, and may also receive credit for two courses by writing a thesis. If a student chooses to write a thesis, the written part of the comprehensive examination is waived.
Doctor of Philosophy Degree
Sixteen courses (48 credits) are required for students entering the program with no previous graduate work. Students generally take three courses a semester. Of the 16 courses, three may be in independent study and two (not more than one a semester) in non-graduate courses. This latter option is usually appropriate only when needed to offset a deficiency in a student's undergraduate background in a field. Generally, graduate students taking non-graduate courses are required to do additional work beyond the requirements set for undergraduates in those courses.
An undergraduate major in political science is preferred, but not required. Applicants must demonstrate both past performance of exceptional quality in their academic work and promise of sustained excellence in the future.
Three letters of recommendation must be submitted to the Department at the time of application, in addition to the transcripts and results of the Graduate Record Examination. The Department requires the general GRE test, a Statement of Purpose, and a sample of scholarly work, such as a term paper.
Completed applications for the Ph.D. program should be submitted by January 2.
Completed applications for the MA program should be submitted by February 1.
The Department is usually able to provide financial support to our doctoral candidates for a period of four to five years, although the Department's initial commitment typically is only for two years, with additional years of funding contingent on the student's performance. Regular grants carry a stipend and full tuition remission. They involve twelve to fifteen hours per week of research assistance to members of the faculty or teaching assistance in undergraduate courses. Each year the Department also awards a Thomas P. O'Neill Fellowship to one incoming student in American politics in honor of the late Speaker of the House.