5 Key Courses in a Master’s in Political Science Program

Staff picture
Updated August 4, 2020

Master's in Political Science Courses

  • Political Theory
  • Public Policy and Administration
  • International Relations
  • Comparative Government
  • American Government

A Master's in Political Science can lead to a surprisingly eclectic and fulfilling array of potential careers. You could take your degree and become any of the following: a campaign staffer, a federal government analyst, an agent of the CIA, a political commentator, a lobbyist, or an urban policy planner. To get to the point of holding down one of these jobs you would likely have to take one or more courses in the following five concentrations: American government, comparative government, international relations, public policy and administration, and political theory. Let's take a look at all of these in turn.

Resource: Top 20 Most Affordable Online Master's in Political Science

Political Theory

Courses in political science can cover a host of international issues and geopolitical struggles. Yet, programs can also offer you strategies or a prism for looking at all kinds of political issues regardless of where those events transpire in the world. That's just what a political theory course is meant to do. Political theory hones in on modern political thought as it intersects with issues of cultural identity, democracy, citizenship, and social justice. The lessons that you learn in a political theory course extend to a wide range of issues, including the social justice implications of globalization and diminishing borders.

Public Policy and Administration

Public policy and administration is really where the rubber meets the road in terms of showing how political theory eventually becomes established policy. Public policy and administration takes a closer look at the nuances of the implementation of public policy issues like environmental protections and the layering complexities of the federal tax code in the United States. Public administration specifically deals with the implementation and ratification of government policy and laws. This would be an excellent masters concentration if you're thinking about becoming a civil servant after you graduate with your degree in hand.

International Relations

International relations is an academic subdiscipline similar to global studies. The field of international relations is quite broad and encompasses international non-governmental organizations, non-government organizations (NGOs), and the role that multinational corporations have in enhancing or mitigating a country's sovereignty. For instance, the dispute settlement process in many trade agreements could prove to be the basis of a stimulating discussion at your masters program.

Comparative Government

Comparative government is sometimes called comparative politics since it seeks to study the intersection of domestic policies with international norms and political institutions from around the world. Comparative government research might, for instance, look at the instrumental role that the United Nations has played in eradicating certain diseases and severely curtailing the incidence of extreme poverty in locations from around the world. With a comparative government declaration you would be searching out for similarities and disparities between American and foreign politics and policies.

American Government

Academic study in American government seeks to bridge the divide that can sometimes exist between political theory and the nuts-and-bolts of practical application. Any comprehensive course on American government should involve a walk-through of American history from the establishment and maintenance of the three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial) as well as how both political behavior and the larger public opinion is shaped by politicians themselves and the media. American government is shaded with a bit of communications since you'll study mass communications, media behaviors, public opinion, and quantitative methods used in America for making policy decisions.

A masters program usually entails taking a closer look at both American and international governments. You'll also study NGOs, comparative government, and international relations in order to determine how U.S. domestic and foreign policy affect other countries globally.

Latest Posts