graduate students and faculty at beach

Graduate Program

The department offers a Master of Arts degree in Political Science. The two-year program is academically rigorous, offering a variety of courses that provide a strong foundation in global politics, comparative and regional politics, theory, and research design. Our seminar courses cover subjects such as critical race theory, imperialism, religion and politics, right-wing movements, gender and politics, immigration and border politics, international law, revolutions, and American democracy.

We are committed to making our program welcoming to students from different parts of the world. Our recent cohorts have included students from Mexico, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Somalia, Colombia, Sweden, Brazil, Germany, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Japan, France, and Pakistan. 

Top 10 Reasons to Apply to our M.A. Program

  • A politically engaged department with commitments to local and global social justice
  • Individualized, flexible plans of study to fit your career path
  • Mentorship by accessible, supportive faculty
  • Scholarships available for first year of study
  • Strong record of post-degree placements in jobs or PhD programs
  • Certificate programs available for those wanting specializatiions in Global Politics or in Public Policy
  • Teaching and research assistantship opportunities
  • Courses offered after 4:00 pm for students with daytime commitments
  • Diverse, international student body
  • Location in a cosmopolitan, culturally rich border region

The program is designed to suit the needs of students with a variety of professional goals and academic backgrounds:

  • Students seeking an M.A. degree as a springboard to enter Ph.D. programs, receive advanced training in Political Science theory and research design, develop a specialized area of expertise, and pursue original research in a M.A. thesis. Students in our program also have opportunities to begin professional training as educators in roles as Teaching Assistants and graders. Many of our graduates have gone on to join prestigious doctoral programs.
  • Students seeking additional training and credentials for a career in government, nonprofit organizations, public interest groups, research organizations or teaching have also found our program exceptionally valuable. The flexibility of our program enables students who are employed in such fields to enroll part-time. Our public policy certficate is designed to enhance job placement through an internship in an organization relevant to a student’s interests.
  • Students who want an M.A. because they enjoy politics and the intellectual stimulation of an academic environment are also very welcome. Some of our students enter our program without a clear agenda for how they will use the degree, but with a strong interest in politics and a desire to learn and develop intellectually beyond their undergraduate studies. Through stimulating coursework, they discover new passions and develop areas of expertise that open new doors for the future.

Our MA program prepares students for professional careers in organizations that engage politics within and outside of government, or in research or teaching capacities. Our MA degree has seven distinct learning outcomes: 

Graduate students in our program will develop skill sets beyond what undergraduates achieve:

  1. Interpret, explain, and analyze academic work about politics critically in the context of scholarly debates.

  2. Design effective research questions about politics and use appropriate methods and evidence to answer them.

  3. Locate and evaluate different types of primary and secondary sources of information about political phenomena.

  4. Build effective oral and written arguments and develop original critical voice as an author.

In addition, our graduate students will gain scholarly breadth across disciplinary fields that engage different dimensions and scales of politics writ large. Many courses will span multiple fields:

  1. Develop substantive expertise in Global Politics, which might include international relations and organizations, globalization, international law, imperialism, international development, migration, resistance movements, or climate change.

  2. Develop substantive expertise in Regional and Comparative Politics, which might include domestic institutions, political processes, mobilizations, political economies, or public policies in the U.S. or other countries at national, state, or local scales.

  3. Develop substantive expertise in Theories of Politics, which might include a variety of theoretical worldviews about politics, political identities, nationalism, the state, citizenship, systems and structures of inequality, and theories and practice of justice. 

See the degree requirements page for the curriculum map realted to learning outcomes.

SDSU is the largest campus in the California State University System and has a national reputation for academic excellence. SDSU researchers continue to be among the most productive in the nation, securing research grants and contracts worth over $14 million in the last fiscal year.

Our geographic location on the U.S.-Mexican border, cosmopolitan context and diverse population provide unique opportunities for local fieldwork and research. SDSU ranks among the top universities nationwide for ethnic diversity, according to U.S. News and World Report, and is the No. 1 LGBTQ+-friendly campus in California, according to Campus Pride and BestColleges. SDSU welcomes more than 1,800 international students each year from more than 70 countries. It ranks No. 5 nationally and No. 1 in California for the number of students studying abroad, according to the latest Institute for International Education Open Doors report. SDSU is home to a rapidly developing Program on Brazil, which funds graduate research and study abroad in Brazil.

SDSU maintains close library ties to other local universities, including the University of California, San Diego, where our students can also arrange to take up to a semester’s worth of coursework (including Ph.D.-level courses in political science). Past students have also taken advantage of the opportunity to take courses at the California Western School of Law and universities around the world via SDSU’s inter-university agreements. Read more about San Diego State University.

How to Apply


Professor Kristen Maher
Office: Nasatir Hall (NH) 121
Email: [email protected]

Advising Hours (Spring 2024)

In-person office hours (NH 121): TH 2:30-4 p.m.
Please email to to make zoom appointments on other days/times.

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