UMKC Catalog


Master of Arts: Political Science

The Master of Arts degree in political science offers study of the major theories, concepts and practices of politics in the United States and throughout the world. The M.A. is designed to serve both as a terminal degree and as preparation for doctoral study at other institutions. In addition, students earning a graduate degree in the UMKC School of Education may take graduate courses in Political Science in fulfillment of their subject area.

The Master's program in political science is designed to give students a broad background in the field. Analytic, research and writing skills are emphasized.

To be admitted to the graduate program in political science, an applicant should have had some previous study in the social sciences. An undergraduate degree in political science is recommended but not required. The department normally requires applicants to have earned a 3.0 grade-point average in their last 60 credit hours of undergraduate coursework, as well as in their major field of study.

The application process is competitive. Satisfying minimum criteria does not guarantee admission to the graduate program; students are admitted according to their rank in the applicant pool and the adequacy of departmental resources. Applicants must submit:

  1. A completed UMKC application for admission.
  2. Official transcripts of all previous college work.
  3. Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (General).
  4. A letter of application to the principal master's adviser expressing personal plans and interest in graduate work in political science.
  5. Two letters of recommendation from professors or others qualified to assess academic potential.
All application materials should be sent to the UMKC Office of Admissions for transmittal to the Department of Political Science for an admissions decision.

Applicants whose records do not meet the requirements of undergraduate academic performance, or whose application submissions are incomplete, may be admitted as non-regular graduate students, depending on individual circumstances. Only regular graduate students may apply for the M.A. degree. Admission under any circumstances is no guarantee of retention.

Graduate students are expected to maintain a high degree of academic excellence. After completion of nine credit hours of coursework in political science at UMKC, the academic performance and status of each student will be reviewed by the faculty and a departmental decision will be made as to retention of the student in the graduate program.

Students whose grade-point averages fall below 3.0 (B) for more than two semesters may be dropped from the program. A 3.0 grade-point average is required for graduation.

Temporary grades of "incomplete" will be granted only rarely by political science faculty, only in extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the student, and only if there are reasonable expectations that the work can be completed. Except for thesis hours, all grades of incomplete will be automatically converted to F's after one year.

The faculty of the Department of Political Science views plagiarism and academic dishonesty as inexcusable. Any student found guilty of these will be dropped from the program.

Students also should consult the School of Graduate Studies section in this catalog for general academic regulations that apply to all graduate students at UMKC.

The Master of Arts degree in political science requires the successful completion of either of the following sets of requirements:
  • Non-Thesis Option - 33 semester hours of approved coursework.
  • Thesis Option - 24 semester hours of approved coursework and 6 hours of thesis (POL-SCI 5599: Research and Thesis). Students must gain permission to write a thesis. Permission to do so depends on the quality of the thesis proposal, the student's writing skills, and the ability of the Department to supervise the student in the subject area of the proposed thesis. An oral defense of the thesis is required. Those who anticipate further graduate work toward the doctorate are advised to write a thesis.
All M.A. candidates must successfully complete POL-SCI 5501. Seminar in American Government; POL-SCI 5530, Seminar in International Relations; and POL-SCI 5580, Seminar in Comparative Politics. With permission of the principal M.A. adviser, students may transfer six credit hours of graduate work from other institutions, and may count no more than six credit hours of pre-approved graduate coursework in other UMKC departments.

Candidates also may take up to nine credit hours of 300- or 400-level coursework in political science at UMKC and count them toward the M.A. degree. For a 300- or 400-level course to be accepted for graduate credit, a student must arrange with the instructor to do supplementary work (such as additional reading, writing, and contact hours) and earn at least a B in the course. In addition, the student must not have taken previously an equivalent course at UMKC or elsewhere.

In either the 30-hour thesis option or the 33-hour non-thesis option, no more than six hours of readings, independent study or directed studies credit (other than thesis hours) may be counted toward the requirements for the M.A.

In all cases, students in the M.A. program must take at least 15 hours of graduate-level (5500-level) courses in political science at UMKC in fulfillment of their degree requirements. In addition, University of Missouri rules mandate that students in graduate programs must take at least 60% of their course work at the graduate level. Applied to the M.A. program in political science, this means that students taking the thesis option must complete at least 18 hours at the graduate level, and students in the non-thesis option must complete at least 21 graduate hours. Graduate courses taken at UMKC in political science and other programs, graduate transfer hours, and thesis hours all count toward fulfillment of this requirement.

Students should consult the principal master’s adviser in selecting approved courses to assure progress toward completion of the degree and to meet their needs and interests in graduate study.