Students may complete the capstone requirement for the political science master’s degree in one of three ways: taking comprehensive exams, completing a special project, or writing a thesis. Below is further information about what each of these options entails:
- Comprehensive Exam: Students must complete at least 30 credits of coursework and then will select two of the courses they have taken in the political science program to be tested on. Instructors for those two classes will submit questions that demonstrate mastery of the material covered in those courses. The student will then have ten days to complete the exam, which will be graded on a pass/fail basis by the instructors. A passing grade results in the successful completion of the degree. If students receive a failing grade they are allotted one more opportunity to successfully pass the exam.
- Special Project: Students must complete at least 27 credits of course work and then register for the special project which takes the form of a one semester independent study worth 3 credits. The special project, developed in consultation with a faculty member who supervises the independent study course, takes what students have learned in the program and applies those theories and concepts to a practical project which contributes to a profession/community/organization, broadly defined, that the student operates in or aspires to be a part of.
- Thesis: Students must complete at least 24 credits of course work and take PSC 585 (3 credits), where they will complete a detailed thesis proposal focused on an original research question and topic alongside a faculty member with relevant expertise who has agreed to be their thesis advisor. Once the proposal is finished and submitted, the student takes the PSC 591 course (3 credits), in which the thesis is completed in its entirety, at the conclusion of which the student must successfully defend the thesis before the thesis advisor and a second reader.