Master of Arts in Political Science


The 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.


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

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.

Why Cal State LA?

los angeles

The CSULA MA program offers unique advantages for its students:

  • An experienced faculty with expertise in multiple fields in political science.
  • A diverse graduate student cohort composed of students from many parts of the world (just in 2020-22 we had students from Italy, Poland, Nigeria, Norway, Greece, Chile, and Saudi Arabia).
  • Access 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. 

Cal State LA: Leading the Way from Cal State LA on Vimeo.

Video: A Tour of the Cal State LA Campus.

What can I do with an MA Degree in Political Science?

Earning a master's degree in political science opens a wide array of opportunities. Many of our graduates find a place in education, teaching in community colleges, high schools, or other educational institutions. Some graduates find employment with government agencies at the national, state, local, and international levels. Others develop careers in the world of campaigns, elections, and political parties, or such non-governmental organizations as interest groups, research firms, think tanks, and non-profits. Political journalism and commentary on the internet or via traditional media is another choice. The MA degree also provides a foundation for pursuing professional degrees in such areas as law or business, or the commencement of doctoral studies in political science or a related field.

Program Structure

The program requires all students to complete:

  • A core of six courses (a total of 18 units):

-- POLS 5040 Seminar: American Political Behavior 
-- POLS 5050 Seminar: American Political Studies
-- POLS 5100 Seminar: Political Theory 
-- POLS 5260 Seminar: International Political Economy or 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 four courses (a total of 12 units)
  • A comprehensive exam or a thesis. 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.  

Houk Scholarship

The John L. Houk Scholarship at Cal State LA is specifically for students pursuing a graduate degree in political science. More information and an online application are available at