Master’s Program


UWM offers one of the most rigorous political science MA programs in the country.   The program trains applied social scientists for careers that demand deep understanding of politics and the ability to conduct independent research. Students in the MA program learn to critically evaluate and apply leading theories in the scientific study of politics. Our courses on research methodology teach students to develop cutting-edge research designs that can be used to answer key questions in the social sciences. Students in the MA program gain broad exposure to the primary subfields of political science (Comparative Politics, American Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory), while also having the opportunity to focus on an area of interest. Our MA program is distinguished by four factors:

  • A low student to faculty ratio (most graduate seminars have fewer than 10 students) allows for close collaboration with faculty
  • Methodological rigor with practical applications. Our MA students receive rigorous training in the latest quantitative methodologies and data science techniques.
  • Broad exposure to different analytic approaches and intellectual traditions within the discipline of political science

The MA program prepares students for success in fields that require advanced research, writing, and communication skills. Many of our students use the MA as a springboard into top PhD programs. Others leverage the MA for careers in government service, politics, NGOs, or business. The program also offers opportunities for mid-career professionals—in education, politics, government service—to expand their training and qualifications.  The Department accommodates the master’s student who attends part-time by scheduling sufficient graduate-level courses in the late afternoons and evenings to enable the student to earn a master’s degree through part-time attendance.

Students in the program may choose to pursue a general Master’s Degree or to concentrate in one of our specialized tracks: Political Data Analysis or International Affairs.

Course of Study

The master’s program is designed to provide students with basic grounding in the scope and methodology of the discipline, while at the same time allowing maximum flexibility in developing a program of study that will meet students’ career objectives.   Most MA students complete the program in two years. Students take one required research design course and two required courses in quantitative methodology, while the remaining coursework is conducted in substantive seminars across the major subfields. In developing an appropriate and coherent program of study, each graduate student works closely with an advising professor. The master’s program culminates in an original scholarly paper based on arguments grounded in extensive research and reference to relevant primary and secondary sources. For more details on course requirements, transfer credits, and the thesis, please see the Graduate Handbook (PDF).

Optional Specializations

Students in the MA program have the option of pursuing a specialization in either Political Data Analysis or International Affairs. Pursuing a concentration is not required.

Political Data Analysis Specialization

Students who specialize in the data analysis track focus on developing skills related to research design and the quantitative analysis of political data.

In addition to providing a strong foundation for progressing to a PhD program, the data analysis specialization prepares students for both public and private sector jobs, including employment in state, local, and national governments, non-profit organizations, research firms, think tanks, political parties and organizations, and corporations. In consultation with their advisor, students in this track develop a course of study that includes the program’s required methodological courses, as well as more advanced data science courses.

International Affairs Specialization

Students who specialize in the international affairs track take a global approach to the study of politics. This entails both an understanding of different political systems and the interactions between states in the international system. UWM’s internationally renowned faculty bring decades of combined international experience to the classroom. Their international research pushes the research frontier in a wide range of subject areas, including:

  • civil conflict
  • international law
  • foreign policy decision-making
  • democratization
  • authoritarianism,
  • international conflict,
  • international political economy
  • social policy,
  • human development and citizenship, and
  • problems of economic development

A key strength of our program is its emphasis on student research. Students in the international affairs specialization learn to take an evidence-based approach to the study of global and regional problems. This prepares them for success in a wide range of careers in government service, NGOs, international organizations, military service, intelligence, academia, global non-profits, philanthropy, and private corporations.

UWM offers students with opportunities to deepen their language and cultural competency to work in global contexts, including but not limited to: Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish among others. MA students may supplement their coursework to meet career and research interests.