Political Science M. A.

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1 Political Science M. A. Program Learning Goals Mastery of scholarly, research, and teaching skills in a broad field of learning in addition to a specialized sub-field. Assessment Plans Grades and written evaluations in graduate courses. Advising by student s instructors and the graduate program director. Comprehensive examination in student s chosen specialization to assess depth and breadth of knowledge. Graduate director advises incoming students to take the required 3 credits in research methods as soon as possible in their academic program. Faculty advisors guide students to select appropriate classes within political science that ensure they have the knowledge and the required skill sets to succeed as a researcher. Course learning goals are explicitly stated on all course syllabi and on course webpages; all graduate courses are listed on the department website, with links to courses in other programs (Global Affairs, History, Sociology, Economics, American Studies, Liberal Studies) that may be of interest. Effective monitoring of student progress, including written evaluations of student work in department graduate courses; frequent conversations between Graduate Director and other Graduate Faculty members about the progress of students. Advising by the Graduate Director of those students (a majority) who elect to take the Comprehensive Exam in their Specialization. The comprehensive exam is a take-home essay exam given each semester in the fields of American Government and Politics, and International Relations. The exam questions are drawn up by the faculty based on political sciences courses Findings Proposed Change Closing the Loop (reassessment)

2 taken by a student. Students preparing for the exam must meet with the Graduate Director to discuss the exam and to pick up a packet of past exams. Preparation for comps involves intensively reviewing and re-reading course materials. Evaluation: A panel of 3-4 readers from the Political Science Graduate Faculty evaluates each exam. Exams are graded on a distinguished pass/pass/fail basis. Readers look for exams that demonstrate knowledge of the relevant political science literature, especially the material covered in coursework, and that show an ability to integrate and apply that knowledge to the specific issues that each question raises. Students are typically informed of the results within two weeks of taking the exam. If a student fails the exam, s/he can take it gain the following semester. Annual Review of Comprehensive Exam: Graduate Faculty in the department review the results of the comprehensive exam to ensure that basing it on courses taken, and administering it as a take-home exam is a satisfactory method of assessment. The Department has a set of Guidelines for Comprehensive Exam in Political Science; a copy is distributed to each student planning to take the comps. The ability to conduct and produce original research (for those students pursuing the thesis option). Completion of 26:790:533 course in Research Methods or 536 Advanced Research Methods. Preparation of M.A. thesis proposal. The M.A. thesis is typically 60 to 80 pages of text, plus bibliography, and any relevant tables or appendices. Thesis prepared and defended successfully. Oral defense before faculty committee of three professors. Provide early introduction to research methods and opportunities for research within graduate coursework. Thesis proposals are

3 often developed through the required 26:790:533 Research Methods course. Proposals are expected to be 15 to 20 pages in length. The Department has developed a set of Guidelines for the Master s Thesis in Political Science which explains the procedure for submitting a formal thesis proposal. The M.A. thesis is expected to be a substantial piece of work, and it is expected that there will be theoretical content to the thesis (for example, a review of relevant theoretical literature). Before students can register for 790:697 or 698, Research in Political Science, they must have had their proposal approved. For each thesis the Graduate Director will, in consultation with the M.A. candidate, appoint a Faculty Supervisor, and two additional faculty members who will serve as the Thesis Committee. The Committee will examine drafts of the thesis, suggest revisions, and generally advise the candidate. On completion of the thesis, the Committee will conduct an oral examination (defense). If the defense is successful, the Committee should advise how to publish parts of the thesis. If the thesis is judged to be not acceptable, the committee may at its discretion direct that the student must take the Comprehensive Examination. Faculty encourage students attendance and presentations (posters or talks) at local, regional, and national venues during the research-and-writing process. The Graduate School Symposium planned for Spring 2013 (in which each thesiswriter has 5 minutes to explain, in jargon-free terms, the problem s/he addresses, how it is addressed, and what his or her findings are) is a much-anticipated event. Graduate Director advises students to meet with their advisor and committee frequently to act as mentors throughout the student s graduate career. Graduate faculty, director and advisors, should highlight opportunities to write and submit grants to obtain external

4 funding. The Political Science M.A. Program has two scholarships awarded annually: the Walter Weiker Memorial Scholarship (to support graduate students in Political Science) and the Virginia Walsh Memorial Scholarship (for work in environmental politics). Underscore need to provide advising at every stage of the process, both from field experts and from the graduate director. Professional career preparation. Graduate Internship Course. Student success in gaining admission to graduate (doctoral) and professional schools (e.g., law, public administration, global affairs). Placement of students upon completion of degree. Students in the Master s Program in Political Science may complete an internship. The internship is a 3-credit course and consists of hands-on work experience at an approved site, plus substantial research and writing that links the real world to political science scholarship. Eligible work sites include nonprofit organizations, government agencies, campaign work, legislative or judicial offices, offices of elected officials (at state and federal levels). Students work with the Department s Internship Director and with Cheryl Egan of Rutgers-Newark s Career Development Office. Internships are intended to provide students with new work experience, and to help them make contacts in the professional world. Again, we have prepared a set of Guidelines for the Graduate Internship in Political Science. Graduate Director advises students to take advantage of Graduate School Workshops on study skills for graduate school, teaching skills, and job search skills such as CV preparation,

5 interview presentations, and mock interviewing. We hope to attend some of these Grad School workshops and to encourage our students to take advantage of them. Collection of placement data, whether through survey or more anecdotal information. Keep students informed of professional development opportunities as they become available through the University, and also of job opportunities (both academic and nonacademic), internship opportunities, and grants availability. This is done through our Political Science list-serv, PSCIGRADS, available only to Political Science graduate students. We can use our Pi Sigma Alpha chapter (National Political Honor Society) to involve graduate and undergraduate members in projects of benefit to all.

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