Political Science -
Graduate Program
The University of New Orleans Home  

Political Science Home

Faculty & Staff

Teaching/Research Assistants

Ph.D Students

Undergraduate Program

MPA Program

UNO Survey Research Center


Political Science Department
College of Liberal Arts

256 Milneburg Hall
2000 Lakeshore Drive
New Orleans, LA 70148

Phone: (504) 280-6383
Fax (504) 280-3838

Contact Us



Guide to Graduate Study

The University of New Orleans, a publicly supported institution of higher education, is the comprehensive urban university of the University of Louisiana System. It is situated on a 300-acre site on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain. UNO opened in 1958 with 1,500 students, and was the only fully integrated university in the South. The Graduate School began in 1963. About 15,000 students are currently enrolled, including about 5,000 in graduate programs.

The Department of Political Science offers a comprehensive program leading to the degrees of Master of Arts, Master of Public Administration, and Doctor of Philosophy. Highly qualified applicants who do not have a Master’s degree may seek admission directly to the PhD program, subject to the decision of the Graduate Committee. The MPA program is administered separately, and information about the program can be found at http://poli.uno.edu/MPA. The graduate program is designed to prepare professional political scientists for careers in research and teaching, government, and public service. Many students currently enrolled are pursuing a degree on a full- time basis; others are working on degrees part-time while engaging in careers with a variety of governmental, private, and educational agencies.

Admission to Graduate Study

Application forms for admission to graduate study in political science are available from the UNO Admissions Office and the UNO Graduate School. Applications can be made on-line at http://grad.uno.edu. In addition to the general application to graduate school, applicants must meet departmental requirements. These departmental admission requirements for the M.A. and Ph.D. programs are detailed below. 

All applicants, M.A. and Ph.D., should forward the following records directly to the Office of Admissions, University of New Orleans, 2000 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans LA 70148.

  • The Graduate School Application for Admission , three letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. The recommendation letters and the statement of purpose can be uploaded with your application.,

  • An official transcript from every college attended.

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores.

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores for students from non-English speaking countries without a previous degree from an American university.

IImportant Dates

Admission Deadlines

Tuition and Fees

Click here for current tuition and fees.

Financial Assistance

The Graduate School offers competitive scholarship and fellowship awards to newly admitted students.  These awards will cover tuition for 2-5 years and may also offer a stipend. In order to be eligible for these awards, students must be admitted to the program before the scholarship application deadlines (February 15 and March 15). Further information on these awards, including eligibility requirements, is available on the Graduate School website: http://www.uno.edu/grad/financing-your-education/awards.aspx.

In addition, competitive, renewable graduate assistantships are available each year for both M.A. and Ph.D. students from the Department of Political Science. Students wishing to apply for graduate assistantships should should have all materials forwarded to the Department of Political Science by March 15.  Graduate assistants serve as research or teaching assistants. Ph.D. students may be assigned to teach undergraduate courses, such as American Government, Introduction to Comparative Government, and Introduction to World Politics.

Information about student loan programs is available from the Office of Student Financial Aid (online at http://finaid.uno.edu/

The M.A. Program

The Masters of Arts program provides each student with the flexibility to develop a plan of study suitable to their own interests, needs, and career goals. Political Science M.A. graduates have been successful in a variety of pursuits, including careers in public service at the federal, state, and local levels. Others have gone on to pursue doctoral degrees at UNO and at institutions such as California-Berkeley, Duke, Florida State, Howard, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts/Amherst, Michigan, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Northwestern, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Washington University.

Degree Requirements

There are two tracks in the Masters program: thesis and non-thesis. The thesis track requires 33 hours, and the non-thesis track 36 hours. No more than 9 hours in courses numbered below 6000 and no more than 6 hours of thesis research may be counted toward these minimum requirements. Up to six credit hours may be taken in related departments, with permission of the Department. All students are required to demonstrate competence in statistics. The statistics requirement may be satisfied either by completing  Political Science 6001 and 6002 with a grade of “B” or better or by passing a departmental examination in statistics.

Students who take thesis research must write a thesis that demonstrates an appropriate level of skill in research and writing in an accepted field of political science. The thesis is directed by a member of the Department and defended before a committee consisting of three faculty members, all of whom must be members of the Department. The committee must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator and the Department Chair using the MA Committee Request Form by the first week of the semester in which the student plans to defend their thesis prospectus. The committee will decide by majority vote whether the thesis is acceptable. Students writing a thesis must have a prospectus approved by the committee prior to writing the thesis, and defend the thesis upon its completion. A Masters defense may be repeated once. 

A student taking the non-thesis degree option must pass a written comprehensive examination prepared by a committee consisting of three members of the Department. The composition of the committee must be reflective of the bulk of a student’s substantive coursework.  The committee must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator and the Department Chair using the MA Committee Request Form by the first week of the semester in which the student plans to take the exam. The examination shall be held during a single day (six hours maximum). Students are not allowed any notes or materials when taking this examination. The committee also may require an additional oral defense of the examination. A majority vote determines whether the student has passed or failed the comprehensive examination, and it may be repeated once.

The Ph.D. Program

The Doctor of Philosophy is the highest degree offered by the University of New Orleans. This degree prepares individuals for a variety of endeavors, including teaching and research careers in political science and positions of responsibility in the public sector. Ph.D. candidates must select areas of concentration from among the following:

  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • US Politics (which may include institutions, behavior, minority and urban politics, public law, and/or public policy and administration subfields)

Ph.D. candidates must select three concentrations which may consist of either of the following combinations:

  • a major in US Politics with at least two subfields, and either Comparative Politics or International Relations as a third field; or
  • all three fields with either Comparative Politics or International Relations as a major, and minors selected from the remaining fields.

Qualifying Examination
The Ph.D. qualifying examination is a university requirement to determine the capability of a student to work toward the Ph.D. degree. The Department of Political Science views the qualifying examination as having three purposes:

  • To assess analytical skills and potential for further graduate study,
  • To assess graduate work taken at other institutions, and
  • To guide the development of an academic program of courses leading toward the general examination.

While all three goals are elements of the committee’s assessment, the Department emphasizes that this exam is intended to guide students toward further steps in the program.
The qualifying examination is oral, and may be taken the semester following the completion of 9 credit hours in the Ph.D. program. It must be taken no later than the semester following the completion of 15 credit hours. Students with an M.A. in political science from UNO, however, may take the qualifying examination during their first semester in the Ph.D. program, and they must take the examination no later than the semester following the completion of 15 credit hours. All students are encouraged to take this exam at the earliest feasible time, to facilitate preparation for the comprehensive exams. Qualifying exams will be administered during the third week preceding the end of classes in the fall and spring semesters. The student must submit a research design or other analytic paper to the examining committee at least two weeks before the exam.

The qualifying examination committee consists of three faculty members from the Department of Political Science. There must be at least one faculty member from each of the areas of concentration selected by the student. The committee must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator and the Department Chair using the PhD Committee Request Form .  The form must be completed by the first week of the semester in which the student plans to take the Qualifying Examination. Passage of this examination requires a unanimous vote of the committee, and it may be repeated once. Failure to pass the exam on the second attempt results in termination from the program.

Upon successful completion, the qualifying examination committee will identify the courses a student must complete for the remainder of his or her program of coursework. A student must complete a minimum of 60 graduate credit hours overall. Included in this must be at least 12 credit hours in one of the areas of concentration, and at least 9 credit hours in each of the other areas of concentration, completion of the research methods sequence of POLI 6001, 6002, and 6003 with grades of “B” or better, and 6 credit hours of dissertation research. Work taken toward a Masters degree may be counted for this purpose, but at least 30 hours must be completed as a Ph.D. student.

 M.A. Degree Requirements for Doctoral Students

Doctoral students qualify for a Master of Arts degree by passing the General Examination or upon successful completion of 36 credit hours and passage of a non-thesis M.A. examination.

Residency Requirements
A doctoral student must earn four semesters of full-time residence. Full-time is considered to be nine credit hours during the academic year and six credit hours in a summer term. All students must be enrolled at UNO in at least six credit hours for at least two consecutive semesters. The remainder of the residency requirement may be satisfied by part-time enrollment until the equivalent of four full-time semesters is met. The following formula is used to compute residency requirements: six to eight credit hours count as one half a full-time semester; three to five credit hours is one-fourth of a full-time semester; less than three credit hours does not count toward the residency requirement. Transfer credit from other institutions may be accepted in partial fulfillment of the residency requirement if approved by the Department and the Dean of The Graduate School.

Research Tool Requirement

Before students can take the General Examination they must demonstrate competence in research methods by passing POLI 6001, 6002, and 6003 (or their equivalents) with a grade of “B” or better.

General Examination

The general examination consists of two written examinations followed by an oral defense. It is administered after the completion of all course work and certification of competency in research tools. Students are examined in their major and first minor fields. Students with majors in US Politics will be examined only in the subfields covered by their course work. Completion of third fields is demonstrated by course work. Students may have up to seven hours to complete each written examination. For Fall semesters, these examinations will be held during the last two weeks of September and the last two weeks of October; for the Spring semesters, the examinations will be held during the first two weeks of February (Mardi Gras permitting) and the last two weeks of March. The exams will be administered and evaluated by Field Committees consisting of 2-3 faculty appointed by the Department Chair. The makeup of the Field Committees will be announced the semester prior to the exam. The semester before taking the exam, students should inform the Graduate Coordinator of their intention to take the general examination the following semester.

An oral exam in both fields must be taken the week following the written exams. Immediately after each oral examination, the Field Committees will decide whether a student has passed. If a student passes both exams, they will be given a passing grade on their general exam. If they fail they will be allowed to retake the exams once. If a student passes one field exam, but fails the other, they may retake the exam in one field. A passing grade for the general exam will not be given until both field exams are passed.


Once the general examination is completed, students must form a dissertation committee. The committee may consist of either three members of the Department, or five faculty, four of whom must be members of the Department and one of whom may be from another department. The committee must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator and the Department using the PhD Committee Request Form.  This form must be completed by the first week of the semester in which the student plans to defend their dissertation prospectus. Students must then prepare and submit a prospectus of the dissertation to the committee, which is defended in a committee meeting.  Prospectuses are normally 30 to 60 pages in length. The Department expects that the prospectus defense will be successfully completed within six months of the completion of the comprehensive examinations, in order for the student to be considered to be making normal progress through the program. Failure to do so must be explained in writing to the Graduate Committee. The Graduate Committee may then decide to terminate any departmental funding received by the student.

A student’s dissertation research is guided and evaluated by the dissertation committee. Once the dissertation is completed, the dissertation defense is held. It is an open meeting. For five-person committees, at least four members of this committee must approve the dissertation for this examination to be passed. For three-person committees, all members must approve the dissertation. This examination may be repeated once. Upon completion of the dissertation defense, the student is awarded the Ph.D.

The University of New Orleans • 2000 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans, LA 70148
(504) 280-6000 • Toll-Free at (888) 514-4275