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Department of Political Science

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    Earn your advanced degree while living and working in the heart of politics in South Carolina.


The Department of Political Science offers graduate programs to train leading scholars in the field as well as public servants in the political sphere, from local, state and federal government to international relations. Students develop analytical, research and leadership skills valuable for any number of specialized careers. 


Questions about applying?

Admission for each program is based on a holistic evaluation of the applicant’s potential, whether it is for conducting rigorous social science research (Ph.D. program) or for professional work – Master of Public Administration (MPA) or Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS). 

Learn more about requirements and important dates



Doctoral Program

Located in the capital city, the University of South Carolina offers students of political science opportunities for deep study, innovative research and hands-on experience through local and state government partnerships. 

The Ph.D. program offers six primary fields of study: 

  • American Politics 
  • Comparative Politics 
  • International Relations 
  • Political Theory 
  • Public Law 
  • Public Administration/Public Policy 

Ph.D. candidates select a primary and secondary field of study from the six areas listed above, plus political methodology (secondary only). Through the selection of these fields, students design a flexible course of study and determine a topic for a dissertation. 

Ph.D. students benefit from multi-year funding packages, financial support for conference presentations and research projects, assistance with publishing, professional placement services and more.

Ph.D. candidates in our department make up a strong community, dedicated to collective success. The faculty derive from top institutions in the U.S. and abroad, bringing a diversity of experience and expertise that promotes curiosity and critical thinking...

Gregory Nelson, Ph.D. candidate

Master's Degrees 

The Department of Political Science offers several options for master’s degrees. Students can earn a Master of Arts in International Studies or a Master of Public Administration with options to specialize. 

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) 

This program is oriented toward professionals who aim to work in government, nonprofit or private sectors, both domestic and internationally. 

Coursework combines relevant political science sub-fields (primarily International Relations and Comparative Politics) with skills in data analysis and research design. Students may choose a track with a thesis or a course-based track with more electives and an oral examination. 

Master of Public Administration (MPA) 

This program provides graduate and professional education that incorporates managerial and analytical skills while advancing students’ understanding of issues in the public sector. 

Students prepare for careers in public administration, human resource management, policy analysis and more, with an optional concentration in Emergency Management and Planning. With three dual-degree and joint programs available, students can further curate the M.P.A. degree to match their goals. 

Dual and Joint Degrees 

The M.P.A. program participates in three dual-degree programs with other academic units at the University of South Carolina. Learn more about dual-degree programs at USC and options for joint degree programs with other institutions in South Carolina in the Graduate Bulletin. 


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