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 Boston College departments. Graduate students in the Graduate School of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences are eligible to cross-register for one graduate course per semester during the academic year at Boston University, Tufts University (not at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy) and at Brandeis University with the approval of the Graduate Director or the Master’s Program Director.
Masters of Arts Degree
The master’s program is a two-year program. Students are required to take ten courses (30 credits) 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 written comprehensive examination completes the requirements of the program. A student is allowed to take two or, with permission, three courses in other Boston College departments, and may also receive credit for two courses by writing a thesis. If a student chooses to write a thesis, the comprehensive examination is waived. In lieu of a thesis or a comprehensive examination, students also have the option of taking Advanced Directive Study (ADS) with a supervising faculty member. An ADS is a focused final paper project that is based on a paper that a student has already written in a seminar.
Doctor of Philosophy Degree
Fourteen courses (42 credits) are required for students entering the program with no previous graduate work. Students generally take three courses a semester. Of the 14 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. The Department requires the GRE General Test, three letters of recommendation, a Statement of Purpose, transcript, and a sample of scholarly work, such as a term paper (20–25 pages).
- Completed applications for the Ph.D. program should be submitted by January 2.
- Completed applications for the M.A. program should be submitted by February 1.
The Department is usually able to provide financial support to our doctoral students for a period of four to five years, pending satisfactory performance. This financial support to our doctoral students consists of a service stipend and full tuition remission during the period that the doctoral student is funded. The service stipend is compensation for up to twenty hours per week of research assistance or teaching assistance to members of the faculty or teaching assistance in undergraduate courses. Each year the Department also awards a Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Fellowship to one student in American politics in honor of the late Speaker of the House.