MA in Political Science (International Relations/Comparative Government)

Total units required for MA: 30

Program Description

The Master of Arts program in Government is designed to orient the student toward critical investigation of problems in government and politics, and to improve the student's ability for independent study. This program is of special value to teachers of government in the public schools, to persons who contemplate public service or politics as a career, and to persons planning additional graduate study leading to the doctorate. The Political Science Department Graduate Coordinator acts as advisor to graduate students and should be consulted early in each student's program of graduate study.

Note: Because most graduate students work during the day, graduate courses are offered in the evening hours.

Admission Requirements

Admission as a classified graduate student in Government requires:

  • a baccalaureate degree;
  • a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 units attempted and 3.0 GPA in the major;
  • a satisfactory score on the aptitude portion of the Graduate Record Examination (the Department expects the student to achieve at least the 50th percentile in the combined verbal/analytic score);
  • three letters of recommendation from individuals who can evaluate the applicant's potential for successful graduate study;
  • a written statement explaining the applicant's purposes and goals in pursuing a master's degree in Government; and
  • an example of written work which the applicant considers evidence of his/her best scholarship regardless of the grade received.

Applicants who have deficiencies in Admission Requirements that can be removed by specified additional preparation may be admitted to the degree program with conditionally classified graduate status. Students with an undergraduate major in any subject may be accepted; no minimum number of units in Government is required. However, if a student's preparation in the field of government or political science is not adequate preparation for graduate study, he/she may be asked to complete some additional coursework before becoming classified. Any deficiencies will be noted on a written response to the student's admission application. No upper division prerequisite courses required as a condition of classification can be counted towards the degree requirement.

Admission Procedures

Applications are accepted as long as room for new students exists. All prospective graduate students, including Sacramento State graduates, must file the following with the Office of Graduate Studies, River Front Center 215, (916) 278-6740:

  • an online application for admission;
  • two sets of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State; and
  • Graduate Record Examination scores, aptitude portion only.

For more admissions information and application deadlines please visit

At the same time, each applicant should forward to the Graduate Coordinator in Government the following:

  • the three letters of recommendation;
  • the applicant's written statement of purposes and goals; and
  • the example of the applicant's best written work.

Approximately six weeks after receipt of all items listed above, a decision regarding admission will be mailed to the applicant.

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units required for the MA:  30

Minimum Cumulative GPA GPA: 3.0 with no grade below a "C" (not a "C-").

Advancement to Candidacy

Each student must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy, indicating a proposed program of graduate study. This procedure should begin as soon as the classified graduate student has:

  • removed any deficiencies in admission requirements;
  • completed STAT 1 or its approved equivalent, a prerequisite to the program (does not count towards the degree) which must be taken before GOVT 200;
  • completed at least 12 units in the graduate program with a minimum 3.0 GPA;
  • taken the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) or taken a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento or secured approval for a WPG waiver; and
  • submitted a thesis prospectus (if the student elects to do a thesis).

Advancement to Candidacy forms are available on the Office of Graduate Studies website. The student fills out the form after planning a degree program in consultation with a Political Science Department advisor. The completed form is then returned to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval.

Program Requirements

Required Courses (18 Units)
GOVT 200Method and Scope in Political Science3
Select one course in Political Theory:3
Political Theory
Specialized Studies in Political Theory
Select one course in International Relations or Comparative Government:3
Theories of International Relations
Comparative Government and Politics
Select one course in California Government and its Political Environment:3
Basic Issues of American Government
Political Behavior and Political Processes: California and Beyond
California Politics
Comparative State Government
Select two additional courses in one of the three subfields6
Other Course Requirements (9 Units) 1
Select one concentration among the following three fields:9
Political Theory
California and its Political Environment
International Relations/Comparative Government
Culminating Requirement (3 Units)
GOVT 500Culminating Experience 23
Total Units30

Three additional courses which may be completed from graduate seminars in the Department, from 200-level courses in related fields (6 units allowed with graduate coordinator's prior approval), from GOVT 295 (3 units allowed), and/or from GOVT 299 (6 units allowed). However, a maximum of 6 units of GOVT 295 and/or GOVT 299 may be applied to the MA.

Of these twelve units, up to 6 units may be in 100-level courses within the Government Department, chosen from a pre-approved list compiled by the graduate coordinator. Up to six units of coursework from the graduate fellows programs (Assembly Fellow, Executive Fellow or Senate Associates Program) can be counted towards the degree.


By the time of Advancement to Candidacy, students must enroll in GOVT 500 and choose either of the following options:

  • Plan A: Masters Thesis
  • Plan B: Comprehensive Exam (Students will take one exam in their area of emphasis and demonstrate a general comprehensive in that area

Note: Students are not permitted to enroll in the culminating experience until they have Advanced to Candidacy, obtained a sponsor for their thesis, and received the approval of the Graduate Coordinator,

Note: Upper division undergraduate courses (100-level courses) which may be used towards the MA program must be individually approved by the Graduate Coordinator and will involve an additional work component over-and-above what is required for undergraduate students. A list of approved 100-level courses will be available semester-by-semester.

Concentration in International Relations/Comparative Government1

GOVT 230Theories of International Relations3
GOVT 236Seminar in International Political Economy3
GOVT 239Globalization and International Relations3
GOVT 240Comparative Government and Politics3
GOVT 249AMiddle East Politics and the United States3

Students emphasizing in International Relations and Comparative Government must take three of the five above. It is recommended you take four courses.