Political Science, MA

Program Category: MA Programs
Chair: Justin Phillips
Director of the MA program: Chiara Superti 
Website: polisci.columbia.edu
Director: Chiara Superti
Degree Programs: Full-Time: Free-Standing MA

The MA program is designed to provide all students with advanced training in political science and political science research methods. Students take at least five courses in the Department of Political Science and become proficient in one of the research tools used in the discipline. At the same time, students can develop their curriculum around a specific area of interest or subfield.

The department is organized into four major subfields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. The subfield of American politics focuses on party politics, elections, the branches of government, state and local government, public policy, social movements, and other political and governmental issues in the United States. The subfield of comparative politics looks at similar issues in countries outside the United States, and tries to find out how differences in culture, levels of development, social structures, and forms of government influence the ways in which politics are conducted around the world. The subfield of international relations studies the relationships among states in the international system, and also looks at international institutions, transnational organizations, and the role of norms and law in international affairs. The subfield of political theory focuses on normative issues such as justice and legitimacy in politics, both through the study of the history of political thought and by seeking to make original contributions to thinking on classic problems. 

Political science students regularly participate in the activities of Columbia's regional institutes and research centers such as the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, the Earth Institute, the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, the Center for International Conflict Resolution, and the Arnold Saltzman Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracies.

Recent graduates of the free-standing MA program have applied their training to advance their careers in journalism, business, applied research, law, political activism, and civil service. Others have used their year in the MA program to determine whether or not to enter a PhD program in political science.

For more information about the program, see here

Special Admissions Requirements

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation from academic sources.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

For more information, refer to our Admissions Information and Frequently Asked Questions pages.

*GSAS will accept up to four recommendations, regardless of the number required by your program of interest. However, to be eligible for admission at GSAS, at least TWO letters must be submitted by academic recommenders.

Your statement of academic purpose should address the following:

  1. Please describe a concept or idea that you encountered in a political science or related course that you found particularly interesting and would like to study further (maximum 300 words).
  2. Please describe why you believe you are prepared for graduate-level quantitative methods training or, if you are applying as a political theorist, please describe your background in political theory and any particular areas of focus that are relevant for theorists (maximum 200 words).
  3. Please explain why you believe a master's degree in political science is a good fit for your career plans (maximum 200 words).