The Master of Arts in Political Science program prepares students for advanced work in political science, teaching, and research about government; a career in government and politics; and work in domestic and international nongovernmental organizations.

The program is made up of four core courses in political science and completion of either a concentration in international security or a broader field of specialization in American government and politics, international relations, or comparative politics. Students choosing a specialization have interdisciplinary opportunities to take up to 9 credits in related fields such as history or public policy.

The master's degree is the first step in an engaging and stimulating career. Students develop a deeper understanding of political ideas and institutions, more sophisticated research skills, a better grasp of the intricacies of governments abroad, and a deeper knowledge of the complexities of international politics. This degree can lead to a career teaching about government; working with legislative bodies, government agencies, and international organizations; or doing research and writing about politics and government.



See Graduate Admission Policies for general information on graduate admission to George Mason University. Specific information on application requirements and deadlines may be found with Schar Admissions.

Completed applications for fall and spring semesters are reviewed on a rolling basis, with late applications considered on a space-available basis. Students may be admitted for non-degree study and apply a limited number of credits toward the master's degree should they choose to apply to the degree program later, in accordance with university policy.


Termination from Program

Students admitted to a Schar program will be terminated from Schar upon receiving one grade of F and are no longer eligible to take courses offered by the Schar school. Per university regulation, students are terminated from the university after accumulating grades of F in two courses or 9 credits of unsatisfactory grades in graduate courses. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see Graduate Policies.

Banner Code: PP-MA-POS

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 36

Students should develop an education plan with their advisors that lists the courses they plan to take. The plan is approved by the student's advisor. Students may include courses from other units to complement their field of specialization; they should reflect the ideas, institutions, or processes of contemporary governance.

Students who wish to begin a career in government and politics or to alter their current career path in government and politics are encouraged to take a 3-credit internship in their area of interest. Internships can be arranged through the Schar school.

Core Courses

GOVT 510American Government and Politics3
GOVT 520Political Theory3
GOVT 530Comparative Politics3
GOVT 540International Relations3
Total Credits12

Methods Courses

GOVT 500The Scientific Method and Research Design3
POGO 511Introductory Data Analysis for Policy and Government3
Total Credits6

Concentration or a Specialization

Select three to five courses in the concentration or a specialization9-15
Total Credits9-15

Students complete the degree by completing additional coursework in the concentration or one of the specializations.

Concentration in International Security (INLS)

Required Courses
GOVT 744Foundations of Security Studies3
GOVT 745International Security3
Select two to three courses from the following:6-9
Advanced Seminar in International Politics
Ethics and International Security
Negotiating in the International Arena
Intelligence: Theory and Practice
Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons Policy and Security
Nonproliferation and Arms Control
Examining Terrorist Groups
Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction
National Security Technology and Policy
Total Credits12-15

American Government and Politics Specialization

Required Field Seminars
Select two field seminars from the following:6
Seminar in the Courts and Constitutionalism
Seminar on Congress and Legislative Behavior
Seminar on the Presidency
Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations
Select one to three electives.3-9
Total Credits9-15

Comparative Politics Specialization

Required Field Seminars
GOVT 631Seminar in Comparative Politics and Institutions3
GOVT 731Advanced Seminar in Comparative Politics3
Select one to three electives3-9
Total Credits9-15

International Relations Specialization

Required Field Seminars
Select two field seminars from the following:6
Advanced Seminar in International Politics
International Political Economy
International Security
Select one to three electives.3-9
Total Credits9-15


Select up to two electives. 10-6
Total Credits0-6

The number of electives students have will depend on how many credits they took in the concentration or field of specialization and whether they choose a 3-credit project or a 6-credit thesis. Students choose the remaining credits required for the degree, if any, from other courses in Schar, including an internship, additional courses in the field of specialization, or from course work offered by other units.

3 Credits of Project or 6 Credits of Thesis

A project or thesis is required for the MA in political science. Students who choose to do a project take 3 credits of GOVT 798 Political Science Research Project linked to an advanced specialty course and produce a final research project. Students who choose to do a thesis should be aware of the policies governing theses. They must follow the enrollment policy of the university and, once enrolled in GOVT 799 Political Science Thesis, must maintain continuous enrollment as specified in AP.6.9.3 Master's Thesis. A thesis director and a committee of two additional faculty members appointed by the school read and approve the thesis. Students should make arrangements for doing a project or thesis with their advisor.

Select one from the following:3-6
Political Science Research Project
Political Science Thesis
Total Credits3-6

Bachelor's Degree (any)/Political Science, Accelerated MA


Highly-qualified undergraduates in any major may apply to the accelerated MA degree in political science. If accepted, students will be able to earn a bachelor's degree in their chosen major and a MA in Political Science with a reduced number of overall credits and within a reduced time frame, sometimes five years. More information on bachelor's/accelerated master's programs may be found in AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees.

Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. See AP.6.9 Requirements for Master's Degrees.


See Graduate Admission Policies for general information on graduate admission to George Mason University. Specific information on application requirements and deadlines for the Political Science master's program may be found on the Schar website.

To be considered for this accelerated master's program, applicants must have completed a minimum of 60 credits, including 12 GOVT credits, and have a minimum GPA of 3.50 in all coursework applied to the degree.

Accelerated Option Requirements

While undergraduate students, accelerated master's students may complete up to eighteen graduate credits of which twelve may be counted toward both the bachelor's and master's degrees. Remaining credits may be held as reserve graduate credit and count only toward the master's degree. The courses are chosen from GOVT 500 The Scientific Method and Research DesignGOVT 510 American Government and PoliticsGOVT 520 Political TheoryGOVT 530 Comparative PoliticsGOVT 540 International Relations and POGO 511 Introductory Data Analysis for Policy and Government. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in these courses and in coursework applied to their major.

Upon completion and conferral of the undergraduate degree in the semester indicated in the application, students must submit the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form to apply credits to the master's degree. Students must begin their master's program the semester immediately following conferral of the undergraduate degree (excluding summer).