We offer three tracks for an M.A. in political science, including an online option, an accelerated hybrid program, and a traditional residential course of study. 

1:7 faculty/student ratio
4 graduate certificate programs
35 number of M.A. students
100% complete a significant research project
What Is a Master's in Political Science?

A master's degree prepares you for doctoral work, or careers in government, non-profit organizations, and private sector research. It introduces you to the work of political scientists, builds your content knowledge, and gives you the opportunity to undertake significant independent research.

Why Study Political Science Here?

Our M.A. program includes 6 hours of coursework in methodology, providing a solid foundation for the individual research required for the thesis. The program also offers electives that cover a broad range of political topics, allowing you to personalize your degree to your area of interest. 


Steps to Apply

Start Your Application

Application Deadline: August 1

Deadline for International Students: April 1

  • Complete the online Application for Graduate Admission:
    • select political science from the alphabetical list of degree programs
    • upload a personal statement of academic and professional goals
    • upload required writing sample
    • submit the names and contact information of three individuals who will provide letters of recommendation
    • upload resume/CV
    • pay applicaiton fee ($75)
  • Submit transcripts from all colleges or universities where you completed undergraduate or graduate coursework or degrees
  • Send GRE scores: our code is #005859
  • Send TOEFL scores (for applicants who are not native speakers of English)

Additional Notes

  • Our application deadline is August 1, but international students should apply by April 1 for consideration. 


Graduate Assistantships

Details about Assistantships

We offer qualified students assistantships awarded on the basis of academic merit. Students who are awarded assistantships receive monthly stipends in exchange for assisting faculty in teaching or research. Students with assistantships have the full cost of tuition covered.

Students must enroll for at least twelve hours of graduate credit each semester to be eligible for financial assistance and must make acceptable progress toward the degree to have assistance renewed from semester to semester. 

Other opporutnities for graduate teaching assistantships or graduate research assistantships are available across the university.

Duration of Funding

Students may apply for more than four semesters of financial assistance. However, there are a limited number of awards available, and students cannot depend on receiving support for more than four semesters. The degree can be completed in that time in most instances. Assistantships are not usually available for summer terms.

Benefits of Assistantships

Assistantships provide these benefits:

  • stipend
  • tuition waiver
  • health insurance program (see the Graduate School benefits page for details)


You can find details on benefits and fees under "financial matters" at the Graduate School website: www.grads.vt.edu.

Graduate teaching assistants receive a stipend for teaching undergraduate courses, usually public speaking. Other campus-wide opportunities are avaialble. See additional assistantship information avaialble through the Graduate School.

Students pay non-academic fees. Students are advised to apply for Virginia residency as soon as possible (after one year in residence). 


Applying for Funding

To be considered for financial assistance, send a written or emailed request to the Director of Graduate Studies. Requests for assistance should be received by January 15th of the calendar year in which you plan to enter the program.

Travel Support

You are encouraged to seek funding for your work from other resources. You should also consider applying for scholarships that offer research funding. 

Beyond the Classroom


We offer assistantships based on academic merit. The positions provide monthly stipends in exchange for assisting faculty in teaching or research and have the full cost of tuition included. 


Our diverse faculty of 34 works closely with students to design a program that fits their needs. We have particular strengths in security studies; campaigns, elections, and voting behavior; constitutional law; and environmental politics.


In addition to the three tracks available to M.A. students, we also offer four graduate certificates, including: Environmental Politics and Policy; Foundations of Political Analysis; Information, Policy, and Society; and Security Studies.

Finishing with Options

Our programs have been successful in placing students in governmental and non-profit positions, as well as launching James Madison Scholars and sending students on to prominent Ph.D. programs nationwide.

Thesis Political Science
Writing Your Thesis

Spend several semesters developing a carefully argued, in-depth, original research project that demonstrates your expertise in a chosen area.

Graduate School VT
Graduate School

Learn more about living and studying in Blacksburg as a graduate student.


Director of Graduate Studies

Dr. Scott G. Nelson

519 Major Williams Hall
(540) 231-5629

Graduate Coordinator

Karen Nicholson

531 Major Williams Hall
(540) 231-6572

Political Science Office

531 Major Williams Hall

(540) 231-6571