Political Science

Graduate Degrees

Degree Requirements

These degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation and the Graduate School for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

All graduate students are required to maintain regular contact with the graduate coordinator to assure compliance with departmental regulations.

Master of Arts in Political Science and International Relations

Only students who have a degree objective of obtaining the Ph.D. will be admitted into the Political Science and International Relations program. However, interested students can obtain a M.A. degree while pursuing the Ph.D. The degree is awarded upon successful completion of (a) 28 units, including three of the five courses in the program’s core theory and methodology sequence, a master’s thesis and registration in POSC 594ab or IR 594ab; and (b) the approval of the master’s thesis by the thesis committee.

Juris Doctor/Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science and International Relations

Application deadline (for Ph.D.): December 1

The Political Science and International Relations program and the USC Gould School of Law jointly offer a dual degree program leading to the J.D./Ph.D. degree. Applicants must apply to the Political Science and International Relations program and the law school and meet the requirements for admission to both. In addition to the LSAT, students interested in this program are required to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).

In the first year students take their course work in the law school exclusively. To earn the J.D., all students (including dual degree students) must complete 35 numerically graded law units at USC after the first year. The associate dean may make exceptions to this rule for students enrolled in law honors programs. The second and third years include a total of 40 units of courses in political science and international relations and 40 units of law. Students must complete a five-course core theory and methodology sequence. They must include a classics-oriented, two-semester political, social, comparative and international theory sequence (currently POSC 530 and IR 500), a multivariate statistics course (such as IR 514 or POSC 600) and a philosophies/methodologies in social inquiry course (IR 513 or POSC 500). Finally in their second, third or fourth year, they must take an approved advanced research methods course.

To obtain a Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations, students must pass the screening process. After the completion of required field course work with a grade of B or better, a substantive paper or USC M.A. thesis relevant to the program, students must take a Ph.D. qualifying examination in two of their three fields of concentration. The third field will be completed by taking at least three courses and passing each with a grade of B or better. The final requirement, following successful completion of the qualifying examination, is a doctoral dissertation.