Graduate Catalog
Political Science

Room 437, Clement Hall
(901) 678-2395

Coordinator of Graduate Studies


I. The Department of Political Science offers individually tailored programs leading to the Master of Arts in Political Science. This degree provides a broad foundation in politics and government for those intending further graduate study or careers in education and public service or private enterprise. Both thesis and non-thesis programs are available. Together with the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, the department offers a dual MA/JD program. Also, the study of Political Science may be combined with study in related areas.

Assistantships are available for qualified students in all programs. Applications are available in Clement Hall, Room 437.

All graduate students will consult with their advisor in the Department of Political Science as to the program of study they expect to follow.  All graduate students must comply with the general requirements of the Graduate School (see Admissions Regulations, Academic Regulations, and Minimum Degree Requirements) as well as the program requirements of the degree being pursued.

II. The Department of Political Science offers a graduate program leading to the Masters of Arts with a major in Political Science. Special fields of study included in the Master of Arts in Political Science are: American Politics (National, State, and Urban); Public Law; Political Theory; Public Policy; Comparative Politics, and International Relations.

Program objectives are: (1) development of a broad understanding of the political science field; (2) understanding of the behavioral and humanist approaches to the study of politics; and (3) ability to engage in critical thinking and analysis, use of logic and evidence to construct and defend a position, and communicate argument in written and oral form.

III. MA Degree Program

A. Program Admission

  1. Admission to the program will be based on selections from a pool of applicants who meet the University’s Graduate School admission requirements.
  2. Significant weight is given to the following factors in determining admissions to the MA program:
    1. An undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale from an accredited college or university.
    2. GRE or LSAT scores.
    3. Letters of recommendation from two persons (at least one academic) familiar with the applicant’s academic background or experience, specifying in detail the applicant’s capabilities for graduate study.
    4. A statement of approximately 1000 words indicating the applicant’s present interests and career goals, including why the applicant wants the MA degree.

B. Program Requirements

  1. Students who write a thesis must complete 33 hours of graduate courses, including 3-6 hours of credit for POLS 7996, Thesis. Students electing to write a thesis should familiarize themselves with the Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide before beginning to write. Students who do not write a thesis must complete 36 hours of graduate courses.
  2. All students must complete POLS 7100, Seminar in Scope and Methods of Political Science Research, and POLS 7401, Seminar in Political Theory, and 7101 Political Statistics, with grades of B or better in each course.
  3. At least 27 semester hours of the courses (30 hours for the non-thesis option) must be taken at the 7000 level, at least 21 (24 for the non-thesis option) of which must be in Political Science.
  4. No more than 6 semester hours of internship courses may be counted toward the 33 or 36 semester hour requirement. Without the approval of the graduate coordinator and chair, no more than 6 semester hours outside the department of Political Science may be counted toward the 33 or 36 semester-hour requirement.
  5. Non-thesis students must pass a comprehensive examination and thesis students must pass an oral defense of their thesis. The oral defense of the thesis constitutes a comprehensive examination over all course-work.
  6. Comprehensive examinations will consist of six questions total. Students will answer two exam questions on the core Theory and Methods (POLS 7401 and POLS 7100, and POLS 7101) and two exam questions from any two of the following fields: American Politics, Public Law, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, Public Policy or a combination of International Relations and Comparative Politics. A student should take a minimum of nine hours in each of the two examination fields.
    1. With the approval of the academic coordinator and the chair, a student may substitute 9 hours in a collateral field for one of the two examination fields.
    2. The examination committee will consist of a chair and two other faculty, chosen by the student in consultation with the academic coordinator and the chair of the examining committee.
    3. Each of the three written exams will be graded by at least two faculty readers, at least one of whom is a member of the examination committee.
    4. Students receive a grade of “low pass," "pass,” “high pass,” or “fail,” on each of the three exams. If a student receives a grade of “high pass” on all three exams, the oral examination is waived. Otherwise, the student will, upon passing all three written exams, submit to an oral exam with the committee, to cover all three examination areas.
    5. Students who fail any of the three written exams will not submit to an oral exam with the committee that semester. The student will be required to re-take the failed written exam(s) the following semester and then submit to an oral examination upon passage of said exams.
    6. Should students earn a low pass on any portion of the written exam(s) and then fail to compensate for the written weaknesses during their oral examination, the members of the examination committee will allow the students one week to successfully rewrite the examination answers in question. If the student fails to sufficiently improve their answers, they must retake the exams the following semester.

IV. Dual MA-JD Program

A. Program Admission

Admission to the dual program will require separate admission to each program. However, for applications to the joint program, the Political Science Department will accept LSAT scores in lieu of the GRE. Students are admitted into each program separately; completion of one degree is not contingent upon completion of both.

B. Program Requirements

  1. Dual Credit
    Students may earn up to a maximum of sixteen hours of dual credit for law courses taken at the law school. The following courses will qualify for both the JD and MA in Political Science:
    1. Law Courses Required at Law School:
      Constitutional Law 4 hours, Criminal Law 3 hours, Criminal Procedure I 3 hours
    2. Law School Electives:
      Administrative Law 3 hours, Criminal Procedure II 2 hours, Federal Courts A 2 hours, Federal Courts B 2 hours, Civil Rights 3 hours, Constitutional Law Seminar 2 hours, Tennessee Constitutional Law 2 hours, Jurisprudence 2 hours, International Law 3 hours, Comparative Law 3 hours, Immigration Law 3 hours, Environmental Law 3 hours
  2. Other Requirements
    1. For students in the dual program, their first year of law school must include only classes that are part of the JD program.
    2. With the above exceptions, all the normal requirements for admission and graduation for a JD and for an MA in Political Science apply.
    3. See the Law School's Academic Regulations, pp. 14-16, for current JD requirements.

V. Accelerated B.A./M.A Program in Political Science

This program allows outstanding undergraduates to begin the coursework for the Master of Arts in Political Science during their senior year. Students are encouraged to begin planning to enter the Accelerated B.A./M.A. program early in their undergraduate career, in consultation with their advisor in the Department of Political Science.

Working with the undergraduate and graduate academic coordinators, undergraduates selected into this program begin a carefully tailored course of study which will allow them to complete their B.A. degree while they also begin the coursework toward their M.A.

To apply, students should have a minimum 3.25 grade point average, and must submit two reference letters and a copy of their transcript to the Political Science department. Exceptions to the minimum GPA will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Each applicant will complete an interview with the graduate academic coordinator in political science.

Students must also apply to the Graduate School for "combination senior" status, which allows them to take graduate courses in political science. To continue in the program past the B.A., students must apply for admission into the Graduate School and into the Political Science department's MA program. 

Up to 9 hours of graduate course work may be applied to both the undergraduate and graduate programs.


In addition to the courses below, the department may offer the following Special Topics courses:
POLS 6710-19. Special Topics in Political Science. (1-3). Topics of current significance in public issues. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours with permission of the chair or graduate coordinator.

POLS 7710-19–8710-19. Special Topics in Political Science. (1-3). Intensive study of selected topics in political science. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 hours.

POLS 6101 - Political Statistics (3)
(Same as PADM 6101). Introduction to analysis of quantitative data used to test, statistically, hypotheses in fields of political science and public and health administration.

POLS 6200 - Envrnmntl Law/Polcy/Reg (3)
Survey of the principal federal laws, policies, and regulations concerning environmental use and protection.

POLS 6211 - Const Law Natl Power (3)
An analysis of the relationships and controls of the three branches and the nature of the division of power between the nation and the states, with emphasis on the role of the Supreme Court as the arbiter in the constitutional system.

POLS 6212 - Const Law Civil Liberty (3)
Background, role, and legitimate extent of civil rights and liberties in US.

POLS 6222 - Urban Politics (3)
Roles and processes of politics and governance in urban America in context of global, social, and economic influences on cities and suburbs.

POLS 6223 - Issues/Urban Politics (3)
Selected issues in contemporary urban politics and policy.

POLS 6230 - Legislative Interns (3-12)
Supervised internship working with the Tennessee General Assembly or other legislative bodies on current legislative programs. Seminar sessions are held to discuss and analyze the problems with which the interns are working. May be repeated for a total of 12 credits. PREREQUISITE: Permission of department. Grades of S, U, or IP will be given.

POLS 6315 - Revolution/Pol Violence (3)
Comparative analysis of the forms and causes of political violence within nations, including revolutions, ethnic conflict and secessionist movements, and terrorism.

POLS 6317 - Democratic Transitions (3)
Comparison of the transition from authoritarian rule to democracy in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe, including consideration of the institutional design of democracy and the impact of culture on democratic transition and consolidation.

POLS 6405 - Origin/Dev Am Pol Thght (3)
Origin and development of political thought in the United States from the colonial to the present time, with emphasis placed on the relation between political thought and political institutions and practices.

POLS 6504 - International Law (3)
An analysis of the nature, scope, duties, rights, and evolutionary trends of international law.

POLS 6508 - Theories Intl Relations (3)
Theoretical approaches to study of international politics. Consideration of various schools of thought, methods, and substantive literatures.

POLS 6510 - Politics Global Econ (3)
Consideration of manner in which political processes affect and are affected by economic processes at global level.

POLS 6511 - International Conflict (3)
Sources of conflict between nations, including characteristics of the international system, national attributes, and decision making.

POLS 6512 - Global Environmental Politics (3)
Exploration of major issues and topics of politics of global environment, including governing the global environment, multilateral agreements, issues of sustainability, and environmental justice.

POLS 7100 - Sem Scope/Meth Pol Sci (3)
Survey of major theoretical approaches to study of politics with emphasis on both analytic and empirical aspects of political inquiry.

POLS 7101 - Political Statistics (3)
Introduction to descriptive and inferential analysis of quantitative political science data.

POLS 7201 - Seminar/Amer Politics (3)
Selected topics in American government and politics. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours.

POLS 7202 - Seminar US Government (2-3)
Analysis of the principal institutions of the federal government of the United States, including Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court.

POLS 7203 - Seminar in Public Policymaking (3)
This course is designed to focus on the process of evidence-based policymaking. Policymaking is a critical component of government, and relies on the horizontal and vertical flow of ideas and opinions. This course will examine the input and output of policymaking mechanisms by exploring cornerstone topics like issue-framing, what "evidence" is, and decision-making calculus.

POLS 7204 - Representation in American Pol (3)
This course provides a broad overview of the scholarship on representation. The course will examine how well the American public is represented, what it means to be represented, whether the public is capable of ensuring it is represented, and the effectiveness of American government institutions in achieving representation. The course is designed to be a collaborative enterprise in which we, as a class, evaluate the health of representative democracy in America and consider how we might do better.

POLS 7302 - Sem Comp Politics (3)
Selected topics in comparative politics. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours.

POLS 7303 - Sem Political Devlpmnt (3)
Comparative study of the process of political change in the nations of the third world.

POLS 7304 - Seminar/Human Rights (3)
Focuses on improving government respect for human rights through an understanding of national and international institutions, interactions, norms, and actors; emphasizes conceptualizations and measurements of government respect for particular human rights used by this general research program.

POLS 7317 - Democratization (3)
This course is designed to focus on the theory and practice of democracy and democratization. It will help students understand the conceptual, theoretical, and empirical foundations of democratization; develop a foundation of fundamental knowledge about the nature of democracy promotion in theory and practice; and incorporate quantitative and qualitative methods in professional life and thinking.

POLS 7401 - Sem Political Theory (3)
Contribution of political philosophy to full understanding of politics is illustrated through selected topics.

POLS 7402 - Topics in Political Thought (3)
Selected topics within political theory. May be repeated a maximum of 6 hours.

POLS 7501 - Sem Interntl Relations (3)
Selected topics in international politics and foreign policy. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours.

POLS 7502 - Sem Intnl Confl/Security (3)
Comparative and theoretical examination of how national and international actors conceptualize, identify, perceive, and address threats to their security; includes technological and social change, capabilities and limitations of defense decision makers and bureaucracies, and role of international institutions.

POLS 7504 - Sem Gov Western Europe (2-3)
Politics and policies of Western Europe, with emphasis on the nations of Britain, France, and Germany and integration processes occurring within the European Community.

POLS 7505 - Sem Latin Amer Politics (2-3)
Developmental challenges that confront Latin American nations, configurations of political institutions with which those nations address those challenges, and changing patterns of state-society relationships that result from the politics of development in Latin America.

POLS 7506 - Foreign Policy (3)
Analysis of the conduct and formulation of foreign policy.

POLS 7508 - Interntnl Reltns Theory (3)
A survey of the main theoretical approaches within the field of international relations.

POLS 7510 - Politics Global Economy (3)
Analysis of the interactive relationship between global political and economic processes.

POLS 7512 - Politics of Environment Change (3)
This seminar introduces students to the political challenges that accompany global environmental change. The central premise of this course is that deciding how to respond to environmental issues is a highly political process involving conflicts over competing values and interests. These conflicts and the subsequent outcomes are shaped by a variety of factors which will be explored in this seminar.

POLS 7702 - Ind Study Pol Sci (1-3)
May be repeated for a maximum of six hours. Independent investigation of research problems or directed readings in selected area of political science. PREREQUISITE: Permission of instructor. Grades of A-F, or IP will be given.

POLS 7996 - Thesis (1-6)
The student must write and defend satisfactorily a thesis on a subject approved by the major professor. Grades of S, U, or IP will be given.

POLS 8201 - Seminar/Amer Politics (3)
Selected topics in American government and politics. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours.

POLS 8302 - Sem Comp Politics (3)
Selected topics in comparative politics. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours.

POLS 8501 - Sem Interntl Relations (3)
Selected topics in international politics and foreign policy. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours.

POLS 8702 - Ind Study Pol Sci (1-3)
May be repeated for a maximum of six hours. Independent investigation of research problems or directed readings in selected area of political science. PREREQUISITE: Permission of instructor. Grades of A-F, or IP will be given.

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