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When should I take the quantitative methods course (PSc 5913)?
Ordinarily, PSc 5913 is offered in the fall.  You should try and take it in your first semester.

I have previously taken a graduate method course. Must I complete PSc 5913?
No. Exceptions to the proficiency in research methods requirement described in the Graduate Studies in Political Science Statement must be approved by the course instructor and the Graduate Program Director.

 I have graduate credits from another institution. Can this reduce the coursework I must take?
The student must request an evaluation of transfer credit. Presumably, where previous graduate coursework parallels courses offered in our department, committees should be sympathetic to counting that work in lieu of such courses from this department.

Do I have to take three core courses in my concentration field if I have had previous course work, even undergraduate preparation, in one or more fields?

No. The Graduate Studies in Political Science Statement allows advisory committees to make appropriate adjustments to various program requirements. Changes should be consistent with the spirit of the program and need the approval of the Graduate Program Director. Exceptions should be spelled out in the M.A. Advisory Worksheet.

In courses with M.A. and Ph.D. students, are the expectations the same for all students?
This depends on the professor, but it is not unusual for the expectations for Ph.D. students to be higher. Some professors even include additional readings and assignments for doctoral students in their class syllabus.

Are M.A. students expected to present research papers at professional conferences and to try to have them published?
No. Although we have had students who have done this in the past. For superior papers and/or superior students, this is often encouraged by individual professors.

Are M.A. students eligible for travel funding to present conference papers?
Yes. The funding is at the discretion of the Department Chair and subject to the availability of funds.

When should I form my committee?
This will normally be done before the M.A. Advisory Worksheet is filed. A good time to start, for full-time graduate students, is before the end of the second semester (or in the semester when they will complete 18 credit hours).

How do I form my committee?
Start by talking to your faculty advisor or other professors that you have had classes with or share similar interests. Set up an appointment to explore committee membership. At this meeting, be prepared to tell them what classes you have taken and what your general idea is for the research you will be conducting.

What criteria should I consider when trying to choose between the Thesis and Research Paper (non-thesis) Option?
If you plan on continuing your graduate studies, then a Thesis may be preferable. Also, a Thesis is a published document and it would be available to other scholars through the University of Michigan Dissertation and Thesis repository, as well as through the University of Oklahoma Library and the Political Science Department Library.

How does the final research paper differ from a Thesis?
The research paper is not published or filed with the University.  It is normally a project of a slightly smaller scale than a Thesis.

What kind of research do I do for the Thesis or Research Paper?
Do research on a topic of interest to you. If you don’t have a specific topic, is there something in the  media or in journal articles that you have read that you would like to know more about, or something that government does that you feel strongly about? These may be topics. Also, many professors have research projects that you may be able to become active in. Talk to professors that you admire and ask them for ideas. You can also get helpful hints about types of research papers on the M.P.A. website at

My research involves data from sources that should be exempt from full board review by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Do I still need IRB approval?
Yes. Although some data may be exempt from IRB oversight, official determination must be made by the IRB. A copy of IRB approval must be attached to the student’s Admission to Candidacy when this form is submitted to the Graduate College. Do not wait until you are ready to defend to obtain IRB approval. Doing so will delay your defense significantly. For a full description of the university’s research policies and procedures and appropriate forms, see the IRB website.

Can I take the comprehensive examination during a semester when I'm still taking course work?
Yes, with the permission of your committee. Ordinarily, students should not plan on holding the oral defense and comprehensive exam if they have more than one substantive course left to complete.

Can I take the comprehensive examination if I have not completed PSc 5913?
No. The Graduate College requires the student to complete this class before it will give permission for the student to take the comprehensive exam.

Must all my committee be present for the oral exam?
Yes, all members must be physically present.                                                                        

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