Master of Arts in Political Science

libraryThe Master of Arts program is built on the foundation of an undergraduate government or political science major and is designed to provide systematic study in political science and related fields at an advanced level. The degree program is meant to serve the diverse needs of our students and prepare them for a number of academic and professional careers. Some of our graduates, for example, go on to pursue a Ph.D. in political science or related fields, while others go on to earn a law degree. Others teach at the community college level, or in high schools. And some seek careers in government, politics, business, and the non-profit sector.

View the MA Program Brochure and MA Program Poster.

Mission Statement

The Master of Arts program provides graduate students with an advanced understanding of the main subfields in the discipline of political science, ensuring mastery of established theories and findings, and the ability to analyze current challenges and controversies. Graduates will be trained to engage in theoretically-based and methodologically-sound academic research, to be thoughtful contributors to political debates and policy discussions, and to transmit their knowledge to others via teaching, writing, and scholarship.

Graduate Advisor

The Political Science Graduate Advisor is Prof. Michael McLendon, who can be reached at

Houk Scholarship

Note that the John L. Houk Scholarship at CSULA is specifically for students pursuing a graduate degree in political science. More information and an online application are available at

Program Structure

Degree Planners

The program requires all students to complete:

  • A core of seven courses (a total of 21 units):

-- POLS 5040 Seminar: American Political Behavior 
-- POLS 5050 Seminar: American Political Studies
-- POLS 5090 Seminar: Foundations of Empirical Political Theory
-- POLS 5100 Seminar: Political Theory 
-- POLS 5260 Seminar: International Political Economy 
   POLS 5270 Seminar: Advanced Studies in IR
-- POLS 5440 Seminar: Jurisprudence in a Globalized World
-- POLS 5500 Seminar: Comparative Politics

  • A concentration, chosen from American Politics, Political Theory, or Global Politics, which requires an additional three courses (a total of 9 units)
  • A comprehensive exam or a thesis. The comprehensive exam is currently a written exam based on two fields of the student's choosing (one of which must be the student's concentration). Graduate students should closely review our guide to taking the comprehensive exam.
  • A thesis is subject to the approval of the thesis chair, the M.A. graduate advisor, and the department chair. Students who are approved to write an MA thesis may, with the approval of the M.A. advisor, substitute 3.0 thesis units for one required seminar of their choosing (see above). Students writing a thesis must enroll in a minimum of 3.0 thesis units, but may take an additional 3.0 units if they are unable to successfully complete their thesis within one semester. 

Further detail on the structure of the MA program can be found in the online University Catalog


The CSULA MA program offers several distinct advantages to students:

  • A well-rounded and experienced faculty with expertise in multiple fields in political science.
  • A diverse graduate student cohort composed of students from many parts of the world.
  • los angelesAccess to the vast cultural, political, and intellectual resources found in the city of Los Angeles and southern California.
  • A schedule of evening classes designed to accommodate students with full or part-time jobs.
  • A record of graduates accepted into leading Ph.D. programs and other academic programs, as well as hired at local community colleges and other public and private institutions. 

What Can I Do with an MA Degree in Political Science?

The MA degree can provide a wide array of opportunities. Individuals obtaining the MA degree can seek employment with government agencies dealing with national, state, local, and even international politics. Opportunities also exist for graduates to work with individuals or organizations that are involved in campaigns, elections, and political parties. There is also the possibility to work with organizations that are closely associated with the government such as interest groups, research firms, think tanks, and non-profit organizations. Political journalism is also an option. In addition to the many career opportunities that the MA can afford, the MA can be extremely beneficial to those students that plan to seek further education such as law school or doctoral studies in political science or a related field.