Last Updated 2016-04-29
Political Science MA
Together, the Graduate Student Handbook
and your graduate program handbook should serve as your main guide throughout your graduate career. The Graduate Student Handbook includes university information, policies, requirements and guidance for all graduate students. Your program handbook describes the details about graduate study and requirements in your specific program. While both of these handbooks are wonderful resources, know that you are always welcome to talk with faculty and staff in your program and in the Graduate College.
The central activities and missions of a university rest upon the fundamental assumption that all members of the university community conduct themselves in accordance with a strict adherence to academic and scholarly integrity. As a graduate student and member of the university community, you are expected to display the highest standards of academic and personal integrity.
Here are some resources to help you better understand your responsibilities:
Welcome to the MA program of the Department of Political Science and congratulations on your acceptance to the graduate program! I very much hope that you will enjoy your journey through the graduate program as you are completing your degree. The experience is both challenging and rewarding. The program differs from the undergraduate program in many ways and I hope you will value the necessary intellectual collaboration with the program faculty as you are progressing through the program and completing your degree. You are expected to take responsibility for completing all the different parts of your degree program and to work in close collaboration with the graduate advisor and, as you prepare to write your MA thesis, your thesis advisor, or if you choose the non-thesis option, the faculty member supervising your research paper.
The Master’s program will prepare you for your future goals in several ways. Course work will guide you to relevant topics, readings, and research methods and provides the corner stone of your graduate education, especially during your first year. However, you are encouraged and expected to go beyond assigned readings and think creatively about pertinent and important research topics as you complete your course assignments. The course work will familiarize you with the relevant topics and debates that you will build on in your own research. Furthermore, you will be required to engage in substantial writing assignments as well as statistical analysis during your course work.
The program will also prepare you to conduct your own research. To complete your degree, you are required to either write a master’s thesis or to complete additional course work and complete a research paper. The process of writing an MA thesis is challenging – it is a major piece of original research that requires a research proposal you will need to defend and get approved by your thesis committee, careful planning through a research design, an extended literature review, and appropriate analysis. The non-thesis option also requires an original research paper that has many of the characteristics of the thesis but on a smaller scale. Both options will exceed the demands of your undergraduate research experience as well as that of writing term papers for your graduate seminars. Early planning and close collaboration with faculty members are crucial in getting your research projects completed in a timely manner. This intellectual collaboration can be one of the most fruitful experiences of your graduate career at UCF.
I assure you that the departmental faculty and staff will be of assistance to you to succeed in the program. I also encourage you to take advantage of opportunities outside of class to participate in the intellectual life of the department and the university. You are expected to make the intellectual and personal commitment that is necessary to complete graduate degree and to uphold the academic and ethical standards of UCF and the discipline of Political Science. If you have any questions or problems, make sure to ask for advice – we expect graduate students to be actively engaged in their education and to be proactive in seeking information, advice, and help. Dr. Michael Mousseau, the Graduate Program Director, is your first stop in seeking help but other faculty members, including myself, are also available and will provide assistance. Read this manual carefully along with other notices that come to graduate students in order to minimize delays in graduating. Good luck in your career as a graduate student!
- Dr. Kerstin Hamann
Professor and Chair
The University of Central Florida offers a Master of Arts in Political Science degree program that is designed to accommodate a range of professional and intellectual needs. These include: (1) preparing students to enter positions in government and the private sector in which the ability to comprehend, influence, and respond to government policy is critical; (2) preparing students, through the MA, for pursuit of a PhD degree in political science or International Studies at other institutions; and (3) providing a well-rounded substantive curriculum for secondary school teachers seeking higher degrees and for teachers in community colleges.
Advising and Mentoring
Advising and mentoring are two very important elements in a graduate student’s career, and it is essential that appropriate advising, supervision and mentoring be provided to students as soon as they begin the program. Graduate students typically receive guidance from two advisors with distinct roles. The program advisor provides guidance on overall academic requirements, program and university policies and procedures, while the thesis advisor serves more as a mentor providing guidance on research, professional guidance and socialization, and other areas of academic and professional interest.
The departmental Graduate Program Director serves as the program advisor for all graduate students especially during their first few semesters. The program advisor helps students identify which courses to enroll in during their first semesters, advises them on their plan of study, and is responsible for all program-related matters. The program advisor is the only one who can authorize course substitutions or any other exceptions to the plan of study as specified in the graduate catalog. The program advisor needs to be consulted prior to students planning their comprehensives and needs to sign all forms relating to completion of the program. The program advisor needs to be consulted to ensure that the student progresses appropriately through the plan of study.
The thesis/non-thesis chair supervises the student’s progress towards completion of the thesis or non-thesis, discusses the research necessary to complete the thesis, and may also be involved in mentoring the student’s professional development, for example through attendance at professional conferences. In many ways, the chair serves as the intellectual mentor to the student. Students must select a chair from the departmental faculty; the Graduate Program Director can assist them in identifying an appropriate thesis chair if the student so chooses. Generally, chairs have substantive expertise in the area that the student will write on. Frequently, students identify potential chairs during the first two semesters of their course work as they take courses in areas of interest. It is a good idea to think about potential thesis/non-thesis topics and chairs early on in the graduate career while enrolling in courses. Students should begin to consult with faculty members about chairing their thesis or non-thesis while they are finishing up their course work to facilitate a smooth transition from taking classes to planning their thesis or non-thesis research.
In some circumstances, the selected chair may find it impossible to see the student through to completion of the thesis/non-thesis. In that case, the student, with the help of the Graduate Program Director, may select a different chair.
Satisfactory Academic Performance
Satisfactory performance involves maintaining the standards of academic progress and professional integrity expected in a particular discipline or program. Failure to maintain
these standards may result in termination of the student from the program. If the student is in violation of any of the rules of professional integrity, the Graduate Committee can make a recommendation to the College of Sciences to revert the student to non-degree status.
The university requires that students must maintain a graduate status GPA of at least 3.0 or higher in order to maintain graduate student status, receive financial assistance, and qualify for graduation. The graduate status GPA is the cumulative GPA of graduate courses taken since admission to the degree program. This graduation requirement for a minimum 3.0 GPA in all graduate courses completed since admission into the graduate program cannot be waived. The policy can be found at www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/content/Policies.aspx?id=5700 > General Policies > Academic Progress and Performance.
Students are also required to maintain a 3.00 GPA in all coursework included in the program of study. Be aware that a B- (2.75) does negatively impact a GPA. While students are allowed to have six hours of C (2.00) grades or lower (including U and I) in their program of study, this is the limit. Grades of D+ and lower will count against the graduate GPA and those courses cannot be used toward completion of the degree requirements.
A program or graduate status GPA below 3.00 at the end of any semester will result in a student being placed on probation. The student is given the next nine hours of their program coursework to improve their GPA to 3.00 or better. While in this status, a student is eligible for tuition support and employment in a graduate position; however, the program may discontinue either of these until the student resolves their status.
Exceeding 6 hours of C or lower grades or a program GPA or 2.00 or lower may result in dismissal from the program. The program of study must include at least 33 credit hours of post-baccalaureate, graduate course work (5000-level or higher) and at least half of the program of study must be at the 6000 level. For a full description of course requirements for a master’s program refer to the section on Course Requirements in the most current graduate catalog at www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/content/Policies.aspx?id=5700.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Master’s students must complete at least 21 semester credits at UCF (Main or regional campuses). For completion of the degree, courses older than seven years cannot be applied toward a graduate program of study. In order to allow courses older than seven to be applied toward the program of study, the student must file a petition.
Full Time and Continuous Enrollment
Full-time graduate status is nine (9) hours during the Fall and Spring Semesters and six (6) hours during the summer semesters, until regular graduate course work is completed.
Students who have completed all of their course requirements and are enrolled into three hours of thesis are considered full-time for fellowship, employment and tuition waiver purposes. Once a student has begun work on their thesis or non-thesis, he or she must be continuously enrolled in thesis course work.
Requirements that need to be met for federal loan eligibility override graduate full-time requirements. A student may be held to other enrollment requirements, as defined by financial awards, veteran status, employment, or other outside agencies.
For further information, refer to the section on Full-time Enrollment at the UCF Graduate Catalog: www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/content/policies.aspx?id=5700#Full-time_Enrollment_Requirements.
The student has seven years from the date of admission (prerequisite, articulation, and foundation courses are exempt) to the master's program to complete the degree. For more details, refer to the section on Time Limitation for Degree Completion in the most current catalog at www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/content/policies.aspx?id=5708#Time_Limitation_for_Degree_Completion.
All transfer coursework must be at the graduate level, have a grade of B- or better, and must be approved by the Graduate Program Director. Transfer coursework is limited to 9 hours. For more details transfer coursework, refer to the section on Transfer of Credit in the most current catalog at www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/content/policies.aspx?id=5708#Course_Requirements > Transfer of Credit.
An Incomplete grade may be assigned when a student is unable to complete a course due to extenuating circumstances and when all requirements can clearly be completed within a reasonable time. For more details, refer to the section on Incomplete Grades in the most current catalog at www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/content/Policies.aspx?id=5700 > Academic Progress and Performance > Incomplete Grades.
Incomplete grades are not counted as satisfactorily completed courses and are not recognized as such by Graduate Studies for fellowship purposes or by Financial Aid. Students on financial assistance must check with the Financial Aid office to see if the receipt of an incomplete grade will affect their financial award.
If a student decides to withdraw from a course, they must do so by the semester’s withdrawal deadline. In doing so, the student is still liable for tuition and fees for the course. For a semester’s withdrawal deadline, refer to the Academic Calendar: calendar.ucf.edu/
Petitions and Grievances
It is the student’s responsibility to be informed of graduate policies and procedures;
however, should a student wish to request an exception to a university or program policy, he or she must file a petition that outlines the nature of their request. Normally, petitions are presented to the graduate program’s coordinator and/or committee, the college’s Director of Graduate Services and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, and the Graduate Council for consideration.
Should a student wish to file a grievance, he or she should first review UCF’s Golden Rule (www.goldenrule.sdes.ucf.edu/) and the Academic Grievance Procedures in the Graduate Catalog (www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/content/policies.aspx?id=5700#Academic_Grievance_Procedure).
CurriculumA Program of Study in the Master of Arts in Political Science consists of the following course work. Students have the option of either completing a thesis or a nonthesis option with more coursework.
Courses—33 Credit Hours
Core—15 Credit Hours
- POS 6736
Conduct of Political Inquiry (3 credit hours)
- POS 6746 Quantitative
Methods in Political Research (3 credit hours)
Choose two of the
- POS 6045 Seminar in American
Politics (3 credit hours)
- INR 6007 Seminar in International Politics
(3 credit hours)
- CPO 6091 Seminar in Comparative Politics (3 credit
Choose one of the following courses.
- INR 6607 Seminar in International Relations Theory (3 credit
- POT 6007 Seminar in Political Theory (3 credit hours)
Elective Courses—12 Credit Hours
- PUP 6015 Comparative
Public Policy (3 credit hours)
- CPO 6038 Political Development (3
- CPO 6058 Revolution and Political Violence (3 credit
- CPO 6067 Comparative Courts (3 credit hours)
- CPO 6075
Comparative Political Economy (3 credit hours)
- CPO 6091 Seminar in
Comparative Politics (3 credit hours)
- CPO 6446 Comparative Political
Parties (3 credit hours)
- CPO 6776 Comparative Rising Powers (3 credit hours)
- CPO 6785 Political and Economic Inequality
in Comparative Perspective (3 credit hours)
- CPO 6938 Special Topics:
Comparative Politics (3 credit hours)
- INR 6007 Seminar in
International Politics (3 credit hours)
- INR 6039 International
Political Economy (3 credit hours)
- INR 6067 Human Rights and Security
(3 credit hours)
- INR 6068 Politics of Civil Wars (3 credit hours)
- INR 6071 Seminar in Weapons of Mass Destruction (3 credit hours)
- INR 6086 International Public Policy (3 credit hours)
- INR 6108
Seminar in American Foreign Policy (3 credit hours)
- INR 6136 Seminar
in American Security Policy (3 credit hours)
- INR 6228 International
Politics of the Caspian Sea (3 credit hours)
- INR 6275 International
Politics of the Middle East (3 credit hours)
- INR 6346 Politics of
International Terrorism (3 credit hours)
- INR 6365 Seminar on
Intelligence (3 credit hours)
- INR 6366 The Intelligence Community (3
- INR 6507 International Organization (3 credit
- INR 6405 International Environmental Law (3 credit hours)
- INR 6716 Politics of International Trade Policy (3 credit hours)
- INR 6938 Special Topics: International Relations (3 credit hours)
- POS 6127 State Politics (3 credit hours)
- POS 6174 Seminar in
Southern Politics (3 credit hours)
- POS 6207 Political Behavior (3
- POS 6415 The American Presidency (3 credit hours)
- POS 6427 Congress and the Legislative Process (3 credit hours)
- POS 6639 Seminar in Public Law and Judicial Politics (3
- POS 6938 Special Topics: Political Analysis (3 credit
- PUP 6007 Public Policy Analysis (3 credit hours)
- PUP 6201 Urban Environmental Policy (3 credit hours)
- PUP 6208 Environmental
Politics (3 credit hours)
- PUP 6324 Women and Public Policy (3 credit
- PUP 6607 Politics of Health (3 credit hours)
- PUP 6938 Special Topics/Public Policy (3 credit hours)
All MA students are automatically placed in the nonthesis
option. Students wishing to write a thesis must get approval to do so.
- POS 6971 Thesis (6 credit hours)
After completion of the
required course work and passing of comprehensive exams, the student must have
a thesis advisory committee approved by the department and Graduate Studies.
The thesis committee consists of a chair and two other faculty members from
the Political Science department. On the approval of the thesis chair and
Graduate Program Director, one of the committee members (but not the chair)
may come from outside the Political Science Department.
When a thesis
topic has been selected, students, in conjunction with their thesis committee,
will develop a thesis proposal. Copies of the proposal will be sent to members
of their thesis committee and a proposal hearing scheduled in the first
semester the student enrolls for thesis hours. All students must pass a
proposal hearing as well as a final oral defense of their thesis.
enrolled in thesis hours, students should maintain continuous enrollment (3
credit hours) each semester up to and including the semester in which they
defend the thesis.
In addition to department guidelines for the thesis,
students should also become familiar with the university's requirements and
deadlines for organizing and submitting the thesis.
The student must complete 6 additional credit hours of
course electives in their respective areas. Thesis hours, if already taken,
will not count for course credit for the 6 additional credit hours of
- Electives (6 credit hours)
- Complete an
independent research project/paper
During the final semester of
coursework, the student must have a nonthesis advisory committee approved by
the department and Graduate Studies. The nonthesis committee consists of a
chair and one other faculty member from the Political Science department. On
the approval of the thesis chair and Graduate Program Director, one of the
committee members (but not the chair) may come from outside the Political
The student must complete an approved
article-length independent research paper (minimum 8,000 words inclusive or 25
pages). The project/paper must have a component of original, independent
research; it cannot be a literature review or research design only. The
project/paper can be a product of a graduate research seminar and/or
independent study paper. The student will present their research publicly
at a department research colloquium or other public academic forum such as
paper presentation at an academic conference. The project/paper must be
evaluated by and receive formal confirmation of completion from the nonthesis
advisory committee, the graduate coordinator, and the department chair.
If the paper is to be presented at a department research colloquium, the
student is responsible for scheduling the presentation in consultation with the
nonthesis advisory committee. They must register for the nonthesis option at
least six weeks prior to the date of presentation.
All candidates for the MA degree must take a comprehensive
written examination. The examination will be administered after satisfactory
completion of the required course work, and must be taken prior to enrollment
in thesis hours.
The exam is designed to demonstrate proficiency in
research methods and will consist of two parts. Part I will involve the
critique of an article from a political science journal. The article will be
assigned by the department’s Graduate Methods Committee in consultation with
the student and where possible will be based on the student's substantive
areas of interest. Part II will involve questions based on data analysis using
either SPSS or STATA.
The examination will be offered once semester.
Dates will be set by the department. Students must register to take the exam at least six weeks prior to its scheduled date.
passing any part of the examination may take this part a second time within one
calendar year on the dates that comprehensive exams are regularly scheduled.
However, no student will be allowed to take the examination more than
Full-time students in the Political Science
MA program pay a $39 equipment fee each semester that they are
enrolled. Part-time students pay $19.50 per semester.
Timeline for Completion
Steps to Completion
In order to finish your graduate degree, you will have to complete several components, or milestones, in the program. These steps are sequential though there might be some overlap in time.
- Core Coursework and Electives (three semesters to complete for full-time students)
- Comprehensive Exams (towards the end of completing the course work)
- Research and Thesis Writing (minimum of two semesters)
- Defense of Thesis/Non-thesis
First, you will complete the required coursework. This work will consist of 15 hours of core courses and 12-18 elective hours. Students may pursue up to 6 hours of internship for elective credit with approval of the Graduate Program Director.
Your required core curriculum is outlined below. With some exceptions, each required course is offered once per year, either in Fall or Spring. The Department typically does not offer core courses during the Summer. Students often use Summer to take an elective if one is offered or to pursue independent study with faculty who consent to advise them. It is strongly recommended that you take the required courses at the first opportunity they are offered. Students will not be allowed to take their comprehensive exams (see below) until they have completed all of their core courses.
The graduate catalog specifies courses that may be used to fulfill the restricted elective requirements. The Graduate Program Director must approve substitutions for these electives. That is, if you are planning on taking a course outside of the list of approved electives, you must contact the Graduate Program Director and ask for permission.
Students often use their coursework to begin to develop a thesis or non-thesis topic. Sometimes you will discuss a topic in class that sparks your interest, or you begin to think about related topics. Feel free to discuss your interests in possibly developing a topic early on with the professor teaching the class. Sometimes students also conduct an Independent Studies course towards the end of their coursework to begin exploring potential thesis or non-thesis topics. Students who take a full course load (9 hours) can generally complete their coursework in three semesters.
2. Comprehensive Exams
All candidates for an MA degree must take a comprehensive written examination. The exam is given once each semester. The exam will involve critiquing and analyzing a journal article in the student’s area of interests within political science and will also involve analysis and interpretation of data. Students will not be allowed to take their comprehensive exams (see below) until they have completed all of their core courses.
3. Research and Writing of Thesis/Non-thesis
A. Writing the Non-thesis Research Paper. The non-thesis option is designed for students who are not planning on applying to PhD programs, or who otherwise do not wish to make the substantial research and writing commitment required for writing a full thesis. The student must complete an approved article-length independent research paper (minimum 8,000 words inclusive or 25 pages). The project/paper must have a component of original, independent research; it cannot be a literature review or research design only. The project/paper can be a product of a graduate research seminar and/or independent study paper. Generally, full-time students who start in the fall and take six credits of coursework in the summer will complete their non-thesis requirements during the fall of their second year in the program.
Once students have settled on a topic and recruited a research paper chair, they will need to find one additional member of their research paper committee. The research paper committee needs to sign the Research Paper Request form. Students are expected to submit a complete draft of the paper to the committee at least three weeks prior to the Graduate Thesis/Dissertation Defense Deadline of the semester they intend to complete the project. The committee will then make recommendations to the student on ways to improve the paper. The student must submit the final paper to the program assistant no later than the last day of classes of the semester the student intends to complete the project. The research paper committee recommends final approval or disapproval of the research paper.
B. Writing the Thesis. The thesis option is designed for students who are planning on applying to PhD programs, or who otherwise wish to gain the substantial experience involved in research and writing a full thesis. While some students have a general idea what they would like to write their thesis on early on in the program, other students develop ideas as they progress through their classes. It is always a good idea to discuss your ideas early with the professors that have expertise in that area. Sometimes students write a seminar paper that sparks their interest and develops into a thesis idea. Generally, full-time students begin to enroll in thesis hours at the beginning of their second year in the program. Generally, full-time students who start in the fall and take six credits of coursework in the summer will complete their thesis during their second year in the program.
Once students have settled on a topic and recruited a thesis chair who will advise them throughout the thesis process, they will need to find two additional members, at least one of which needs to be from their department, to form a thesis committee (see thesis committee guidelines below). The thesis committee needs to sign the thesis committee approval form.
The student will then write a research design proposal, which will be formally presented to the thesis committee and other faculty and graduate students at a thesis proposal hearing. The committee will then make recommendations to the student about the direction of the thesis. Upon acceptance by the committee, it will become a part of the student’s permanent file. Guidelines for the proposal are included in the handbook below. The thesis chair supervises and guides the student through the thesis progress and provides ongoing feedback. The completed thesis must be submitted to the thesis committee at least two weeks prior to the date of the thesis defense, and sometimes earlier based on the discretion of the thesis chair.
Further details on the expectations for a thesis and tips on writing a thesis are outlined below.
4. Defense of Thesis/Non-thesis
A. Non-thesis defense. The student will present their research paper publically at a department research colloquium or other public academic forum such as paper presentation at an academic conference. The student will indicate the venue the paper will be presented in the Research Paper Approval form submitted early in the semester the student intends to complete the project, and the venue must be approved by the program director.
If the paper is to be presented at a department research colloquium, the presentation will be scheduled during the week ending on the Graduate Thesis/Dissertation Defense Deadline for the semester. During paper presentations, which are generally scheduled for one-half hour, the student will give a brief summary of the paper topic, methodology, and findings. The committee members will then ask questions about the thesis. They then decide on whether the paper is acceptable or whether revisions are required. After the defense, the student is responsible for revisions if requested, collecting Research Paper Approval form signatures from the committee members, and for completing the graduate student exit survey in the departmental office. The defense is open to the public, but attendees can participate in the discussion only with consent by the paper chair. The project/paper must be evaluated by and receive formal confirmation of completion from the Graduate Committee, the graduate coordinator, and the department chair.
B. Thesis defense. Once the thesis is completed, all committee members have had the opportunity to provide feedback on the entire thesis and have agreed that the student is ready, the student will then orally defend the thesis. The student will need to coordinate the thesis defense date and time with the thesis chair and the thesis committee members. Students are expected to submit a complete draft of the thesis to the entire committee at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense. The student also needs to submit an approved abstract and defense announcement to the departmental program assistant, who will distribute the defense announcement. A thesis should be completed and ready for submission to the thesis committee early on in semester in which the student intends to defend the thesis.
During the defense, which is generally scheduled for one hour, the student will give a brief summary of the thesis topic, methodology, and findings. The committee members will then ask questions about the thesis. They then decide on whether the thesis is acceptable, whether revisions are required. The student is expected to discuss the details of expectations for the defense with the thesis advisor. After the defense, the student is responsible for revisions if requested, collecting thesis approval form signatures from the committee members, and for completing the graduate student exit survey in the departmental office. The defense is open to the public, but attendees can participate in the discussion only with consent by the thesis chair.
Degree Plan of Study
A students plan of study will be drawn up early in their first semester. Students should also contact the Graduate Program Director if any questions on their plan of study or registering for courses come up. Any exceptions to the plan of study have to be agreed on in advance by the Graduate Program Director. Once the plan of study is finalized, the student is required to seek approval for any deviations from that plan from the Graduate Program Director. Such deviations from a previously agreed plan of study may result in a delay in the expected graduation date.
For more information, refer to the section on Plan of Study in the most current catalog at www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/content/Policies.aspx > General Graduate Policies > Plan of Study.
Department of Political Science
University of Central Florida
Howard Phillips Hall 302
Orlando, FL 32816-1356
Dr. Kerstin Hamann
Dr. Michael Mousseau
Graduate Program Director (MA and PhD)
Graduate Program Assistant (contracts, comprehensive exams, general questions)
Coordinator, Administrative Assistant (timecards and payroll for Graduate Assistants)
The following faculty members are available to teach and supervise you throughout your graduate career:
Terri Fine, PhD, University of Connecticut
Research Areas: American, Minorities in American Politics
Kerstin Hamann, PhD, Washington University
Research Areas: Western Europe, Spain, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Roger Handberg, PhD, University of North Carolina
Research Areas: Pre-Law, Judicial, Space/Defense/Security Policy
Peter Jacques, PhD, Northern Arizona University
Research Areas: Environmental, Internships
Michael Mousseau, PhD, Binghamton University
Research Areas: Causes of War and Peace
Philip Pollock, PhD, University of Minnesota
Research Areas: Methods, American, Elections
Mark Schafer, Ph.D. Arizona State University
Research Areas: International, Political Psychology
Bruce Wilson, PhD, Washington University
Research Areas: Comparative, Judicial, Latin America
Martin Dupuis, PhD, University of Southern California
Aubrey Jewett, PhD, Florida State University
Research Areas: American, State and Local
Myunghee Kim, PhD, Binghamton University
Research Areas: Comparative, Asia
Barbara Kinsey, PhD, Washington University
Research Areas: Comparative, Research Methods
Jonathan Knuckey, PhD, University of New Orleans
Research Areas: American, Methods, Southern Politics
Drew Lanier, PhD, JD, University of North Texas
Research Areas: Judicial, Presidency, Pre-Law, Methods
Eric Merriam, JD, University of Virginia; LL.M., George Washington University
Research Areas: National security law and constitutional law
Houman Sadri, PhD, University of Virginia
Research Areas: International, Middle East, Caspian Sea
Gunes Tezcur, PhD, University of Michigan, 2005
Jalal Talabani Chair of Kurdish Political Studies
Research Areas: Kurdish politics; Middle East; Comparative Politics
Andrew Boutton, PhD, Pennsylvania State University
Research Areas: International, War and Conflict, Counterterrorism
Thomas Dolan, PhD, Ohio State University
Research Areas: International, War & Conflict
Nathan Ilderton, PhD, Texas A&M University
Research Areas: Judicial, American, Presidency
Kyungkook Kang, PhD, Claremont Graduate University
Research Areas: International Relations, Political Economy, Formal & Computational Modeling
Nickola Mirilovic, PhD, University of Chicago
Research Areas: Comparative, International, Asia
Demet Mousseau, PhD, Binghamton University
Research Areas: Comparative and International Politics, Global Human Rights and Democracy
Jonathan Powell, PhD, University of Kentucky
Research Areas: Civil-Military Relations with regional interests in Africa and the Middle East
Andrea Vieux, PhD, University of Kansas
Research Areas: American, Public and Education Policy, Political Behavior, State and Local
Anca Turcu, PhD, University of Texas-Dallas
Research Areas: Comparative, Immigration
Daniel Marien, PhD, The New School for Social Research
Research Areas: American Politics and Political Theory
Robert Bledsoe, PhD, Professor Emeritus University of Florida
Research Areas: International Law, Geography, Pre-Law
Barry Edwards, PhD, University of Georgia
Research Areas: American Politics, Public Law, Research Methodology
Joseph Paul Vasquez, PhD, University of Notre Dame
Research Areas: International, War and Conflict
All candidates for the MA degree must take a comprehensive written examination. Students will not be allowed to take their comprehensive exams until they have completed all of their core courses, and you must be registered for at least one graduate credit hour in the semester you take the comprehensive exam.
The exam is designed to demonstrate proficiency in research methods and will consist of two parts. Part I will involve the critique of an article from a political science journal. The article will be assigned by the department’s Graduate Methods Committee in consultation with the student and where possible will be based on the student's substantive areas of interest. Part II will involve questions based on data analysis.
The examination will be offered once each fall, spring and summer semester. Dates will be set by the department. Students register to take the examination at least six weeks prior to its scheduled date.
Students not passing any part of the examination may take this part a second time within one calendar year on the dates that comprehensive exams are regularly scheduled. However, no student will be allowed to take the examination more than twice.
Research and Writing of the Thesis/Non-thesis
student must complete 6 additional credit hours of course electives in their
respective areas. Thesis hours, if already taken, will not count for course
credit for the 6 additional credit hours of coursework.
student must complete an approved article-length independent research paper
(minimum 8,000 words inclusive or 25 pages). The project/paper must have a
component of original, independent research; it cannot be a literature review
or research design only. The project/paper can be a product of a graduate
research seminar and/or independent study paper. The student will present their
research publicly at a department research colloquium or other public
academic forum such as paper presentation at an academic conference. The
project/paper must be evaluated by and receive formal confirmation of
completion from the Graduate Committee, the graduate coordinator, and the
A master’s student’s research paper
committee must consist of at least two members and be approved by the College
of Graduate Studies. Of the two members, the chair must be an approved graduate
faculty member in your program. In case of a split decision by the committee,
the Graduate Program Director will decide pass/fail.
Adjuncts, visiting faculty, courtesy
appointments or qualified individuals from outside the university may serve as
the second member or co-chair of the committee, but may not serve as the chair.
If there are co-chairs, one must satisfy faculty qualifications for serving as
a chair of a dissertation advisory committee. The other co-chair must satisfy
the minimum requirements for serving as a member of a dissertation advisory
committee. Qualifications of additional members must be equivalent to that
expected of UCF faculty members. UCF faculty members must form the majority of
any given committee.
University Thesis Requirements
The College of Graduate Studies Thesis and Dissertation page contains information on the university’s requirements for dissertation formatting, format review, defenses, final submission, and more. A step-by-step completion guide is also available at Completing Your Thesis or Dissertation.
All university deadlines are listed in the Academic Calendar. Your program or college may have other earlier deadlines; please check with your program and college staff for additional deadlines.
The following requirements must be met by dissertation students in their final term:
- Submit a properly formatted file for initial format review by the format review deadline
- Submit the Thesis and Dissertation Release Option form well before the defense
- Defend by the defense deadline
- Receive format approval (if not granted upon initial review)
- Submit signed approval form by final submission deadline
- Submit final dissertation document by final submission deadline
Students must format their dissertation according to the standards outlined at Formatting the ETD. Formatting questions or issues can be submitted to the Format Help page in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site. Format reviews and final submission must be completed in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site. The Dissertation Approval Form is also available in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site.
The College of Graduate Studies offers several thesis and dissertation Workshops each term. Students are highly encouraged to attend these workshops early in the dissertation process to fully understand the above policies and procedures.
The College of Graduate Studies thesis and dissertation office is best reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A master’s student’s thesis committee must consist of at least three members and be approved by the College’s Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. Of the three members, two must be approved graduate faculty members in your program, one of whom must serve as the chair of the committee.
Adjuncts, visiting faculty, courtesy appointments or qualified individuals from outside the university may serve as the third member or co-chair of the committee, but may not serve as the chair. If there are co-chairs, one must satisfy faculty qualifications for serving as a chair of a dissertation advisory committee. The other co-chair must satisfy the minimum requirements for serving as a member of a dissertation advisory committee. Qualifications of additional members must be equivalent to that expected of UCF faculty members. UCF faculty members must form the majority of any given committee.
For more details about the Thesis Committee, please refer to the UCF Graduate Catalog: www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu.
Prior to enrollment into XXXX 6971 Thesis, your thesis committee must be reviewed and approved by Graduate Studies. This form can be found online at www.students.graduate.ucf.edu/files/.
To be considered full-time, thesis students engaging in thesis research must be continuously enrolled in three hours of XXXX 6971 every semester, until they successfully defend and submit their thesis to the University Thesis Editor. This enrollment each semester reflects the expenditure of university resources.
Master’s Thesis Research Design Proposal Guidelines
Each MA student should submit a research design proposal to their thesis committee for approval during the first semester that a student signs up for thesis hours. The student will make a formal presentation of their thesis proposal to their committee. This hearing will be open to all faculty and other graduate students.
The proposal for a thesis is essentially an outline of the research— similar to an architectural blueprint for building a house. The clearer the plan, the more timely and successful the completion of the house. And the clearer the plan, the more likely it is that it will be approved by your thesis chair and committee, with a high probability that the final product will also be accepted. A well-developed, acceptable proposal, therefore, is a kind of personal contract between you the student, and your committee.
Certainly the challenge lies—as usual—in deciding exactly what topic you want to propose! It is true that some fortunate students may be offered a specific topic or problem to pursue by a mentor whose preferences agree with the student's own. But more often, your job is to come up with a specific topic or research question that shows promise for extended study. Do not worry if a topic does not suggest itself to you immediately. Be ready and willing to try out a number of possibilities to see how they develop. How do you "try out" a topic? By doing a topic analysis.
How to do a Topic Analysis. This is really a simplified proposal form that includes the following parts:
- Problem, hypothesis, or question;
- Importance of research;
- Significant prior research;
- Possible research approach or methodology;
- Potential outcomes of research and importance of each.
Analyzing a potentially useful topic in this step-by-step way forces you to look at it objectively and precisely within 2-4 pages. Here are some points to watch for:
- If you are unable to write your topic in either the form of a hypothesis or a clear statement, you need to refine and clarify the topic. It must be stated specifically, not in vague, imprecise terms.
- You will need to be able to justify what you are doing and prove that it is worthy of your time and energy. It is always handy if you can quote a major authority who is stating a need for the research. But if you do not have an authority on hand, try to demonstrate that your research is in some way significant to a major activity.
- Be sure you have a reasonable (if not exhaustive) grasp of what has been done before. This will help support #2.
- Extremely important part! Exactly how do you plan to approach the research? Try to explain as precisely as possible, and include an alternative methodology. This part may still be in rough form, but it should indicate the likely nature of your approach.
- This will be important in assessing the worth of your topic. For example, let's say you might propose the use of a questionnaire to collect evidence. You would then need to analyze the results of the questionnaire. Your potential outcomes (speaking generally) might be a positive correlation between two factors, a negative one, none at all, or unsatisfactory responses. Perhaps only one of these outcomes could lead to a thesis. That result could suggest the need for a different approach to the issue, which in turn could lead you down a more productive path.
Once you have settled on a topic, you are now in the happy position of writing the first draft of your formal research design proposal. This is an expansion of the topic analysis and will be your final work plan, so it will probably end up being anywhere from 15 to 25 pages. So this is a substantive piece of work you will be producing. Again, here is a generally accepted proposal with an idea of expected page length:
Section of Proposal
Hypotheses, problem or question
Importance of topic
Prior research on topic
Limitations and key assumptions
Contribution to knowledge
Description of proposed chapters
Section 1 through 4
The first four sections are about the same as those in your topic analysis, only amplified and refined. The prior research section in particular must be more comprehensive, although you may certainly summarize your report of prior research if there is a great deal of it. Your actual thesis will be the obvious place to go into more detail.
The research approach or methodology section should be explained explicitly. For example, what questions will you include on your questionnaire? If your work includes an experiment, what apparatus will you use, what procedures will you follow, what data do you intend to collect, and what instruments will you use in data collection? Remember even a qualitative research design (such as a case study) requires a methodological approach. List any major questions yet to be decided.
In the limitations section make clear what your study will not attempt to do.
Section 7 and 8
The contributions section will simply be more detailed than in your topic analysis, and your chapter descriptions should be as specific as possible. Just remember this is a proposal, so keep descriptions brief, and try to highlight the structure of each chapter. Most theses follow a standard chapter format:
1. Introduction (general problem area, specific problem, importance of topic, research approach, limitations, key assumptions, and contribution to research)
2. Description of what has been done in the past (a.k.a. literature review; this documents that your own research has not already been covered.)
3. Description of the research methodology (how your research was conducted).
4. Research results (what you found out).
5. Analysis of the results (explains the conclusions that can be drawn from data, and implications of a theory).
6. Summary and conclusions (emphasize the results obtained and contribution made. Outline suggestions for further research)
With this general framework in mind, along with the specific characteristics of your own thesis, you can define your chapters clearly for your formal proposal.
Students are strongly encouraged to attend professional development opportunities offered at UCF, such as the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning’s GTA workshops, which all students can apply for regardless of whether or not they receive an assistantship (for information, see www.fctl.ucf.edu ).
There are other resources available to assist graduate students. The University Writing Center (uwc.cah.ucf.edu/) is available for consultations with any type of writing assignments, from term papers to the Master’s thesis.
Students are encouraged to present their research at UCF’s Graduate Research Forum during Student Research Week, generally held in March or April. For more information on the Graduate Research Forum visit www.graduate.ucf.edu/researchforum or UCF Student Research Week and www.researchweek.ucf.edu.
If students do truly outstanding work on a research project, their advisor or instructor for the course might encourage them to submit their paper to a professional conference. Applying for a conference and finalizing a conference paper should be done in close consultation with the project advisor or course instructor. However, conference presentations are not part of the degree plan of study.
Students are bound by UCF’s Golden Rule (see www.goldenrule.sdes.ucf.edu/), which contains Student Rights and Responsibilities including regulations on academic honesty, plagiarism, and codes of conduct. If a student is found to be engaged in plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty, this can result in dismissal from the program.
Graduate students are encouraged to take advantage of the workshops on thesis and dissertation formatting, library research, and other workshops organized by the Graduate Student Association (see www.gsa.ucf.edu/).
Travel Support for Conference Presentation
The College of Graduate Studies offers a Graduate Presentation Fellowship that provides funding for master's, specialist, and doctoral students to deliver a research paper or comparable creative activity at a profession meeting. Students must be the primary author and presenter. More information can be found on the graduate studies website: funding.graduate.ucf.edu/presentation/.
Graduate Students Travel Funding is available to pay transportation expenses for graduate students who are delivering a research paper or comparable creative activity at a professional meeting. Contact the Student Government Association at 407-823-5648 or at www.gsa.ucf.edu for more information.
If the student chooses to conduct research that involves human subjects (i.e. surveys, interviews, etc.), he or she must gain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval prior to beginning the study. For access to the IRB submission form and sample consent forms, please visit the Office of Research website: www.research.ucf.edu > Compliance > UCF IRB Webpage > UCF-IRB Principal Investigator’s Manual
If the student chooses to conduct research that involves animal subjects, he or she must gain Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval prior to beginning the study. For access to the IACUC submission forms, please visit the Office or Research website: www.research.ucf.edu > Compliance > UCF IACUC Webpage > Animal Use Approval Form
If you have questions regarding human or animal subjects, please contact an IRB Coordinator, at (407) 823-2901.
Ethics in Research
Researchers in every discipline have a responsibility for ethical awareness as the status of the profession rests with each individual researcher. It is important to be honest and ethical in conducting research as well as in taking classes. The ethical collection and use of information includes, but is by no means limited to, the following: confidentiality, accuracy, relevance, self-responsibility, honesty, and awareness of conflict of interest. The University of Arizona’s Code of Research Ethics provides our students with guidelines for responsible practice in research. This code of ethics can be found here: fp.arizona.edu/senate/ethicode.htm.
Patent and Invention Policy
UCF has three fundamental responsibilities with regard to graduate student research. They are to (1) support an academic environment that stimulates the spirit of inquiry, (2) develop the intellectual property stemming from research, and to (3) disseminate the intellectual property to the general public. UCF owns the intellectual property developed using university resources. The graduate student as inventor will according to this policy share in the proceeds of the invention.
The full policy is available online from the Graduate Catalog: www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu > Policies > General Policies > Patent and Invention Policy.
Depending on available funding, we offer
several Graduate Teaching Assistantships to first- and second year students.
Graduate Teaching Assistants are generally expected to support faculty members
in a variety of ways in their teaching efforts. Assignments may vary by
semester. Most GTAs are funded by university tuition waivers and departmental
funds. Occasionally, additional students are funded or partially funded by
external grants, and the student on these lines will primarily work with the
faculty member holding the grant.
In order to ensure that support is
received on time, applicants are encouraged to apply by the priority deadline
and to stay in close contact with the department’s Office Manager for timely
completion of all necessary paperwork. Students are also encouraged to register
early for classes in time to process tuition waivers. Support from the
department will cover no more than the minimum hours required for the students
to complete their degree; if the student takes additional hours, no support
will be provided for these additional hours.
Students are strongly
encouraged to apply to fellowships available from the university as well as
from outside sources for financial support (see www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/content/FinancialInfo.aspx?id=6094).
See Funding and www.cos.ucf.edu/graduate/funding/ for further information.
Several types of employment are available to international students,
including on-campus employment. For more information about the types of
employment available to international students, and the requirements and
restrictions based on visa-type, please see the International Affairs and Global Strategies' website: www.international.ucf.edu/international-students-scholars-and-professionals/international-students-and-scholars/f-1-students.
Assistantships and Tuition Waivers
For complete information about
university assistantships and tuition waivers, please see the UCF Graduate
To be employed and to maintain employment in a graduate
position, the student must be enrolled full-time and meet all of the training
requirements and/or conditions of employment.
To be awarded and
continue receipt of a tuition waiver, the student must be enrolled full time
and either employed in a graduate position (GTA, GRA, GA), receiving a
University fellowship, or (if employed off-campus) employed is a position
where payment is processed through Graduate Studies.
can be offered tuition support for a maximum of four semesters, excluding
GTA Training Requirements
If the student
is hired in the position of Graduate Teaching Associate, Assistant or
Graders, there are training requirements that must be met in order for the
contract to be processed. Associates and Assistants must complete a minimum
two-day training and an online GTA Policies and Procedures Module. Associates
must also have completed at least 18 hours of graduate courses in the
discipline they will be teaching. Students who are employed as Graders are
required to complete the online legal module. These services are offered by
the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL) and more information can
be found at the following website: www.fctl.ucf.edu > Events > GTA
Programs. More information about the requirements is available at www.students.graduate.ucf.edu/GTA_Training_Requirements/
International students who will be hired in GTA positions must be proficient
at speaking English. This is determined by successfully passing the SPEAK test
with a score of 55 or better. This test (also known as the Oral Proficiency
Exam) is administered during the GTA orientation by the Center for
Multicultural and Multilingual Services (CMMS).
GTA Performance Assessment
At the completion of each semester the student is employed as a GTA, the
student’s performance will be evaluated by the faculty advisor. These
assessments will be used to review strengths and weaknesses in the student’s
performance in preparation for future employment.
Graduate Student AssociationsThe Graduate Student Association (GSA) is UCF's graduate
organization committed to enrich graduate students' personal, educational and
professional experience. To learn more or get involved, please visit www.gsa.ucf.edu. For individual department or graduate
program organizations, please see program advisor.
Students may pursue up to 6 hours of internship for
elective credit with approval of the Graduate Program Director.
Students are encouraged, but not required, to submit their research to
Political Science conferences and to peer-reviewed journals. Students’
academic advisors will alert students who have produced particularly
outstanding research in their courses or on their thesis to existing
opportunities. Students are also encouraged to join the American Political
Science Association and join the subfield sections relevant to their
research, which will familiarize them with ongoing trends and discussions in
the discipline. Furthermore, students are encouraged to engage in
professional development opportunities by writing book reviews for journals.
The department offers a Brown Bag Seminar series where faculty
members present ongoing research. All graduate students are encouraged to
attend these presentations and discussions. The schedule is available from
the departmental Program Assistant.
Instructor Training and Development
The Faculty Center for Teaching and
Learning (FCTL) promotes excellence in all levels of teaching at the
University of Central Florida. They offer several programs for the
professional development of Graduate Teaching Assistants at UCF.
GTA Training (mandatory for employment as a
This training provides information and resources for students who
will be instructors in a two-day workshop. The seminars cover a variety of
topics, including course development, learning theories, lecturing, and
academic freedom. Those interested in additional training can also attend an
optional training session that normally follows the mandatory training.
Preparing Tomorrow's Faculty Program
program (12-weeks) consists of group and individualized instruction by Faculty
Center staff and experienced UCF professors. Textbooks and materials are
For more information, visit the UCF Faculty
Center for Teaching and Learning's website at www.fctl.ucf.edu > Events
> GTA Programs or phone 407-823-3544.
Pathways to Success Workshops
Coordinated by the College of Graduate Studies, the Pathways
to Success program offers free development opportunities for graduate
students including workshops in Academic Integrity, Graduate Grantsmanship,
Graduate Teaching, Personal Development, Professional Development, and
Research. For more information and how to register, please visit www.students.graduate.ucf.edu/pathways/.
Graduate Research Forum
Sponsored by the Division of Graduate
Studies, the Research Forum is an opportunity for students to showcase and
their research and creative projects and to receive valuable feedback from
faculty judges.valuable feedback from faculty judges. Awards for best poster
and best oral presentation in each category will be given and all participants
will receive recognition.
The College of Graduate Studies and the
Graduate Student Association invite all UCF students, community, and employers
to attend the Graduate Research Forum. For more information, contact email@example.com.
Graduate Excellence Awards
Department of Political Science
Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award
Each year, students can submit a
portfolio for nomination of Department, College and University level awards of
excellence. Theses are intended to showcase student excellence in academic
achievement, teaching, research, leadership, and community service.
These awards include the following:
Award for Outstanding MA
Pollock-Ellsworth Award for Excellence in
Methods in an MA Thesis (Department)
Award for Excellence by a
Graduate Teaching Assistant (College of Sciences)
Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching (College)
the Outstanding MA Thesis (College)
For the nomination process and eligibility criteria, see the College of Graduate
Studies website www.graduate.ucf.edu/GradAwards
For information about the Council of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) thesis
and dissertation awards, see their website: www.csgs.orgAwards.
writing resources: uwc.ucf.edu/gradwriting.phpWriting for Graduate
Career Services and
Graduate career development issues are unique
and include evaluating academic and nonacademic career choices, discussing
graduate school effect on career choices, as well as learning, evaluating,
and refining networking and interviewing skills. Whatever your needs, the
offices of Career Services and Experiential Learning offer services and
resources to aid in the career exploration and job search of Master and
Doctoral students in every academic discipline. To learn more, visit their
website at www.career.ucf.edu.
For specific services or
resources provided by the academic program, please contact the graduate
program director or academic advisor.
- College of Graduate Studies Forms
A listing of forms and files for the College of Graduate Studies.
- Thesis Committee Approval Form (College Form)
Thesis committees must be in place and approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator, the Department Chair/Director, and the College of Sciences Associate Dean of Graduate Studies prior to a student’s enrollment into Thesis (XXX6971)
- Traveling Scholar Form
Required form of graduate students who would like to take advantage of resources available on another campus, but not available at UCF.