Which Program is Right for Me?

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Frequently Asked Questions

M.A. versus Ph.D.: Explanation of Programs

Studying Political Science at GSU and Beyond

Graduate School Logistics (Cost, Class Schedule and Program Requirements)

Admission Requirements/Process

Admission Decisions

Financial Aid

Responses to Your Questions

How do I know whether to apply for the MA or the PhD?

  • The M.A. program is for applicants seeking broader knowledge of the field of Political Science as well as training in research design and data analysis. The M.A. can be a terminal degree for those seeking professional advancement, or it can be used as a stepping stone to the Ph.D. program.
  • The Ph.D. program is for applicants desiring to be trained as independent, original scholars. Most Ph.D. graduates seek faculty positions at colleges or universities.

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Do you admit students seeking only the Master’s (M.A.) degree?

  • Yes, we offer a stand-alone M.A. program.

Are there internship opportunities for M.A. students?

  • M.A. students can complete three- or six-hour internships, taking advantage of our location in the heart of Atlanta. Previously students have interned at the Carter Center, CARE, the Georgia Legislature, and with the Secret Service, among others.

What is the Direct-Admit Ph.D. Program and who is eligible for it? What are the requirements for entry into this program?

  • The Direct Admit Ph.D. program is for: applicants who do not have a master’s in Political Science, but know they want to pursue a Ph.D.; applicants coming straight from undergraduate programs are eligible to apply, as well as mid-career applicants and non-traditional students.

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What is the 4+1 Program and who is eligible for it? What are the requirements for entry into this program?

  • The 4+1 program is for high-achieving GSU undergraduate students who are majoring in Political Science and wish to complete both their B.A. and M.A. degrees in five years. Undergraduate Political Science majors should have approximately 90-100 hours of coursework completed prior to beginning the program. Students must have at least a 3.5 GPA, and must have successfully completed POLS 3800 (Research Methods), in order to be considered for admission to the 4+1 program.

What are the required courses for different programs of study?

  • Course requirements for the programs of study can be found here.
    • Dual-Degree (4 + 1) Program
    • Master’s
    • Direct-Admit Ph.D.
    • Post-M.A. Ph.D.

What are the different areas I can study as a graduate student? Where can I find out which professors focus on each area?

I’d like to see GSU and talk to some faculty. Whom should I contact to set this up?

  • Contact the current Director of Graduate Studies: Dr. Fix.

Are faculty members at GSU accessible to students?

  • We pride ourselves on the level of mentorship we provide for our graduate students. Faculty members are always willing to make appointments to meet with current graduate students and many of our advanced doctoral students have offices in the department to further collegial and professional interactions.

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Do faculty ever include students in their research? Do they ever coauthor papers or publications with students?

  • Definitely. Students with graduate assistantships often work as research assistants for various faculty members. Additionally, many of our graduate students have worked with our faculty as coauthors. Click here to see details about articles recently published.

What kind of jobs do graduates from GSU’s political science program get?

  • Our M.A. graduates have found jobs in government or with non-profit organizations and NGOs as well as in the private sector. Recent M.A. graduates are now at the World Affairs Council, CARE and pursuing doctoral degrees.
  • Our Ph.D. students have received both academic placements at top universities and colleges across the country as well as non-academic jobs. A full listing of our recent M.A. and Ph.D. placements is available here.

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How much does it cost to attend GSU?

  • In making your plans to enroll, the following estimated costs and fees will help you determine your potential financial plans. In addition, you can use the GSU Cost Calculator, to get an early estimate of the cost of attendance.
    • Information about graduate tuition is available here.

Can I attend the program on a part-time basis? Are classes offered in the evenings or on weekends for working professionals?

  • Yes. We have one of the few nationally-ranked Ph.D. programs in the country that allows students to attend part-time. In order to aid those attending part-time, we offer the majority of our graduate seminars in the afternoons or evenings.

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Are graduate classes offered online or off-campus?

  • Most graduate courses are offered on campus although some A. level courses are available online.

Do you offer regular graduate courses in the summer?

  • We generally offer a special topics methods course in the summer, a course to prepare doctoral students for teaching at the university level, as well as 1-2 substantive courses. Students also may work with faculty individually on a directed reading, or complete an internship.

How many years does the average student take to complete the Ph.D.?

  • The expectation is that post-M.A. students will complete the Ph.D. degree in 4-5 years, while Direct-Admit students will complete the Ph.D. degree in 5-6 years.

Do I have to take a foreign language?

  • D. students have the option of either showing mastery of a foreign language or acquiring advanced research methods skills. Students whose major field is Comparative Politics must complete the foreign language requirement.

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I have taken graduate work at another institution. Will my credits transfer?

  • We generally do not accept transfer credits. However, students who have completed an M.A. in political science at another institution are eligible to apply for the post-M.A. Ph.D. program.

 What is the application deadline? If I miss the deadline, will my application still be considered?

  • The deadline for Ph.D. applicants to be considered for a departmental assistantship is February 1 and March 1 for other students.
  • The deadline for M.A. applications is March 1. Applications are not accepted after these deadlines have passed.

Are there minimum requirements for GPA, GRE, etc.?

  • We generally do not accept students who have undergraduate GPAs below a 3.0 or graduate GPAs below a 3.3.
  • Our target scores for the GRE are a 300 combined for M.A. applicants, and 310 combined for Ph.D. applicants and at least a 4.5 on the Analytical section.

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My degree(s) are from a non-American university, do I need to take the TOFEL?

  • The only exception is if the country is an English-speaking one, such as the U.K. or Ireland.

I took the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) several years ago. Are the scores still valid or must I retake the examination?

  • Scores expire after five years. You will need to retake the exam if your scores are over five years old.

Does the Department require a writing sample? What should I submit for my writing sample?

  • Yes, all applicants must submit a writing sample. The writing sample should be between 20-40 pages and should be an example of academic writing, such as a paper you have done for a course or a thesis paper.

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What should I include in my statement of purpose?

  • The statement of purpose should lay out your proposed research agenda and areas of interest for study and research. Please provide a concise statement of your research interests and how Georgia State University’s Department of Political Science will help you meet your career and educational goals. Be as specific as possible. Applicants also should speak to how their research interests align with those of the faculty in the department.

What kind of recommendation letters should I include in my application?

  • Given that we are a research-oriented department, recommendation letters that speak to your academic abilities and research and writing skills are best.

How should transcripts be submitted?

  • You can upload unofficial transcripts directly to the application. Students who are offered admission will be required to send official transcripts from every post-secondary institution to the Office of Graduate Services.

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Will the specific field in which I hope to specialize have any bearing on the admissions process?

  • We look for the best applicants, regardless of area of specialization.

Is an undergraduate major in political science necessary for admission to your graduate program?

  • We currently have graduate students who received undergraduate degrees in Sociology, History, Psychology and Economics, to name a few.

How are admissions decisions made?

  • The graduate admissions committee reviews each and every application. All of the parts of the application will be read, and we base our decisions on the strength of the totality of the application. Successful applicants are those who demonstrate that they are likely to successfully complete the chosen degree program.

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When will I hear whether I’ve been accepted for admission?

  • We try our best to inform applicants of our decision approximately 2-4 weeks after the application deadline has passed. Decisions may be delayed if application materials, such as transcripts, are not received in a timely manner.

I received my degree a number of years ago and have been working full time since then. Will this hurt my chances to be admitted to your program?

  • We have many students who have taken a break from their academic careers before pursuing an M.A. or Ph.D.

Do you admit students to begin their studies in the spring Semester, or do I have to start in the fall?

  • We only allow students to begin in the fall, except for the online M.A. for Social Science Educators that has admissions in the spring.

How many students are admitted each year?

  • We generally admit between 10-15 students to the M.A. program and 20-30 students to the Ph.D. program.

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Is there a separate application for financial aid?

  • If you believe you will need any amount of financial assistance to attend GSU, we strongly encourage you to apply for financial aid immediately.
    • To ensure that your financial aid will be awarded in time to help cover your tuition and fees for the Fall 2017 semester, complete your file before April 1, 2017 for the 2017-2018 academic year. The priority deadline ensures delivery of financial aid before the fee deadline. Financial aid files completed by the priority date will be awarded financial aid, if eligible, no later than June 30, 2017.
    • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) now is available at fafsa.ed.gov. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to determine your eligibility for grants, loans and for most federal and state programs.

If I receive financial aid, do I still have to pay tuition?

  • A student’s “need” for financial aid is calculated by subtracting the EFC (estimated family contribution) from college’s total cost of attendance — including room, board, books, travel and miscellaneous expenses. The financial aid office will determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.

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Does the financial award package involve a research assistantship? What obligations does this involve for the student?

  • The Political Science Department offers a limited number of graduate teaching and research assistantships. Assistantships provide stipends, healthcare coverage and tuition waivers for up to 20 hours of service each week as a graduate research or teaching assistant.

Do GSU graduate students serve as teaching assistants?

  • Graduate students may serve as teaching assistants with approval from the Graduate Director.

Are international students eligible for financial awards?

  • International students are eligible for department assistantships. Federal financial aid is not available for international students. However, limited scholarship opportunities are available to accepted international students. Additional information can be found here.

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