Thesis or Comprehensive Exams

Which culminating Master’s project should you pursue?

Students, in consultation with their advisor, can choose their culminating project for their degree in Political Science. Students can either compose a thesis or take comprehensive exams. Briefly, the thesis requires students to conduct original research and writing that mirrors the standards of publication within a political science journal. Writing the thesis usually requires a minimum of three semesters of work. Comprehensive exams are a two-day series of questions where students demonstrate their expertise on two major fields of political science. The details of the options are in the below links in more detail.

During your second semester of graduate school (or after you have graduated with a bachelor’s degree when pursuing the accelerated track), you should meet wither your advisor or the program coordinator to discuss the best option for you. We recommend students that are likely to use a research project in the future to pursue a thesis (those that plan to apply for a doctoral program or want proof of methodological expertise). Those who are less likely to need such a project after graduation should take comprehensive exams.


Thesis | Comprehensive Exams | Table of Contents