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Master's Degree

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Political Science

Admission Criteria and Degree Requirements

The JMU graduate school requires that prospective students submit official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate course work and GRE test scores. International students must achieve a TOEFL score of at least 570 for the paper-based version and 88 for the electronic version. The Department of Political Science requires that students submit a written statement of educational and professional goals, GRE writing examination scores, curriculum vita or resume, and two current letters of recommendation from professors, employers and other professionals qualified to judge the applicant's ability to complete graduate studies. Students must also submit a statement of language proficiency and a statement of policy interest.

Once admitted to the program, to remain in good academic standing students must comply with the requirements of the JMU Graduate School and those imposed by the Political Science program. Students must complete the EU Policy Studies (EUPS) concentration in a consecutive 11-month period. Students withdrawing from the EUPS concentration may be permitted to re-enter the program at the same point in subsequent years. Students must meet The Graduate School requirement of a 3.0 GPA or higher to qualify for graduation.

Mission

The Master of Arts in Political Science program focuses on comparative and international politics. This program is designed to directly engage students in comparative and international politics via studies abroad and practical experience.

Learning Objectives

When students complete the Master of Arts in Political Science program, they should have:

  • Comprehensive knowledge of the relevant subfields of political science that pertain to their area of concentration in the program.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of the processes that shape politics and policies and the complex interrelationships of political, economic, cultural and ideological interests that influence them in their concentration area.
  • Expertise in contemporary policy issues in political science in their concentration area including international security, immigration, human rights, environmental protection, welfare provision, health and human services, and information technology and their underlying political philosophies.
  • Analytic and language skills, the ability to express themselves in written and verbal form, the ability to formulate and execute a final in-depth project or apply their learning and skills in a practical situation, and broad intercultural competence.

European Union Policy Studies Concentration

This concentration involves an intellectually rigorous program with a theoretical and practical orientation. It provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the political science literature on the European Union in general (its historical development, current institutions, and practices and future prospects).

The European Union policy studies concentration also places particular emphasis on public policy in two domains: economic and social policy, and foreign policy and internal security. Students will focus their studies on one of these policy areas. The concentration is designed as a one-year residential program based in Florence, Italy.

This concentration is intended:

  • to improve understanding of the European Union as a system of governance and as a multinational actor;
  • to promote awareness and understanding of the growing importance and expanding scope of the transatlantic partnership between the European Union and the United States; and
  • to train students to be effective future participants in this partnership.

Concentration Requirements1

Credit Hours

POSC 603. The Political Institutions of the European Union

3

POSC 604. Policy-Making Processes

3

POSC 605. Comparative European Politics

3

POSC 620. The EU: Contemporary Issues and Controversies

3

POSC 640. Policy Analysis and the European Union

3

Choose one of the following:

3

POSC 641. Topics in Economic and Social Policy

 

POSC 642. Topics in Foreign Policy and Internal Security

 

POSC 643. The Transatlantic Relationship and the Challenges of Globalization

POSC 644. Research in Policy Dynamics

POSC 690. Tutorial in EU Policy Studies

6

POSC 692. EU Seminar

3


33

Typical Curriculum for European Union Policy Studies

Fall Semester1

Credit Hours

POSC 603. The Political Institutions of the European Union

3

POSC 604. Policy-Making Processes

3

POSC 605. Comparative European Politics

3

POSC 620. The EU: Contemporary Issues and Controversies

3


12

 

Spring Semester

Credit Hours

POSC 640.  Policy Analysis in the EU

3

Choose one of the following

3

POSC 641. Topics in Economic and Social Policy

POSC 642. Topics in Foreign Policy and Internal Security

POSC 643. The Transatlantic Relationship and the Challenges of Globalization

3

POSC 644. Research in Policy Dynamics

3


12

 

Summer Semester

Credit Hours

POSC 690. Tutorial in EU Policy Studies

6

POSC 692. EU Seminar

3


9

Course Offerings

Political Science

POSC 540. Post-Conflict Societies. 3 credits.
An examination of the political dynamics of social, economic, security and governance problems faced in rebuilding societies that are emerging from a period of intense conflict.  Emphasis on institutional and behavioral challenges brought about by conflict; strategies employed by domestic and international actors to promote democratic, just and secure societies after conflict; and standards that can be used to assess the success, failure and durability of a newly emerging political system.

POSC 601. Theories of European Integration. 3 credits.
This course is a comprehensive introduction to normative and empirical theories of European integration. It covers the "European visions" of historical figures and the history of European integration since World War II. The course requires intensive analysis of twentieth and twenty-first century empirical theories of integration, including neofunctionalism, intergovernmentalism, historical institutionalism, multi-level governance, constructivism and Europeanization.

POSC 602. The Politics of European Culture and Identity. 3 credits.
This course examines the dynamics of cultural identity in Europe. It canvasses alternative theoretical approaches to identity (primordialism, instrumentalism, constructivism) and addresses the interplay among sub-national, national, and supranational identities in various European states. The course also considers the ways that political actors express and modify identities in an enlarging and increasingly multi-cultural Europe.

POSC 603. The Political Institutions of the European Union. 3 credits.
This course is a comprehensive consideration of the EU's institutions and the relationships among them. It analyzes the roles of the EU's institutions and advisory bodies and considers the ways that executive, legislative, judicial, and advisory institutions interact. The course also engages debates about the "democratic deficit" in Europe and considers whether changes in the Union's institutional structure might increase the quality of European democracy.

POSC 604. Policy-Making Processes. 3 credits.
This course examines policy cycles and illuminates the range of general and sector-specific policy processes that take place in the EU and other complex decision-making environments. The course analyzes the structures of policy regimes and the ways that those structures affect the behaviors of diverse policy actors. 

POSC 605. Comparative European Politics. 3 credits.
This course examines the functioning of Europe’s national political systems. It focuses on state formation, nation building, models of democracy, territorial governance, electoral systems, party systems, legislative-executive relations, state-society dynamics, and other core elements of national governance. This course involves analysis of similarities and differences among national political models and consideration of Europeanization’s effects on national governance.

POSC 620. The EU: Contemporary Issues and Controversies. 3 credits.
This course offers a deep look into contemporary issues and debates in EU politics. The particular subject matter changes from semester to semester; contemporary issues include the future of the common currency, immigration and asylum, relationships between particular member-states and the broader Union, and EU foreign policy challenges. Regardless of its specific focus, this course considers the historical background of the debate, the positions of different member-states and policy players, and the likely future of the issue. The course requires active engagement with contemporary media coverage, think tank analyses and scholarly literature.

POSC 630. Topics in U.S. Government. 3 credits.
In-depth examination of specialized topics in U.S. government and politics. The topical area of each section of this course will be clarified in its online listing.

POSC 631. U.S. Congress. 3 credits.
An analysis of the nature of political representation, institutional development of the national legislature, organizational structures, parliamentary procedures, and relationships with the executive and judiciary branches and with interest groups, political parties, and the media.

POSC 636. Public Policy. 3 credits.
This course will provide students with a set of conceptual frameworks with which to analyze the nature and resolution of public problems. We will conduct an in-depth examination of the political context within which public policy agendas are set, alternatives are weighed, decisions are formulated, and outcomes are implemented.

POSC 637. Interest Groups and Public Policy. 3 credits.
An analysis of the origin, maintenance, and mobilization of organized interests, the central role they play in the American system of government, and their influence on the public policy process.

POSC 640. Policy Analysis and the European Union. 3 credits.
This course offers an intensive immersion into the methods and concepts of policy analysis, with emphasis on applications involving European affairs. It introduces students to various techniques in policy forecasting, monitoring, and evaluation while discussing their potential application to policy decision-making, policy advocacy, and policy implementation. Students apply those techniques in case-based projects.

POSC 641. Topics in Economic and Social Policy. 3 credits.
In-depth exploration of specialized topics in EU economic and social policy. The topics for each semester will vary and may include the single market, economic and monetary union, competition policy, social policy, agricultural policy, regional policy, environmental policy, energy policy, and research and development policy.

POSC 642. Topics in Foreign Policy and Internal Security. 3 credits.
In-depth exploration of specialized topics in EU foreign policy and internal security. The topics for each semester will vary and may include European foreign policy, European security and defense policy, police and judicial cooperation, immigration and asylum, and efforts to combat organized crime.

POSC 643. The Transatlantic Relationship and the Challenges of Globalization. 3 credits.
This course analyzes the connections between North America and Europe. It examines the transatlantic trade and investment relationship, the transatlantic security relationship, US/EU approaches to specific global challenges and governance regimes, and the ways that developments in other world regions affect transatlantic dynamics. Students pursue transatlantic topics of interest within the policy track of specialization..

POSC 644. Research in Policy Dynamics. 3 credits.
This course involves scrutiny of policy proposals from their conception through their ultimate fate. Students gain familiarity with specialized databases in multiple policy-making systems. The course promotes familiarity with alternative ways of conceptualizing, organizing, publicizing, and tracking the evolution of policy proposals and policy-relevant data.

POSC 665. Governance and Stabilization. 3 credits.
This course will apply political science research and theory to the role of counterinsurgency and post-conflict operations in providing governance and stabilization. It will examine current military and political strategies in light of lessons learned from past operations.

POSC 690. Tutorial in EU Policy Studies. 6 credits.
A tutorial requiring students to pursue one of the following: a service learning project, a practicum or internship, or in-depth original research. Students integrate prior course work and knowledge as they serve in government, NGO or business settings or develop a thesis in their policy specialization area. They are further exposed to and directly maneuver within specific EU policies and procedures.

POSC 692. EU Seminar. 3 credits.
This is the capstone seminar for the program designed to address students' professional development. The course will integrate individual students' experiences and give further consideration to topical issues in the European Union. It seeks to build students' professional networks and to aid their transition into the professional realm. Course work includes speakers, roundtable discussions, research colloquia and study tours.