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The thesis option gives MA students the opportunity to work closely with a supervisor. This program is designed to be completed in 12 months. You may study part-time but must complete your degree within 5 years of registering.

The thesis-stream MA is a 15.0 unit program. The thesis is worth 9 units and you’ll take 6 units (4 courses) of graduate level course work. At least 2 of these courses (3 units) must be taken from these field seminars: POLI 507508509516 and 540.

The methods course POLI 505 is mandatory, unless your supervisor gives an exemption. You can take the rest of the courses from Political Science graduate courses, a senior undergraduate course (300 or 400 level), a directed readings course (POLI 590) or a graduate course from another department.


Moderate your own expectations. A thesis is an academic exercise designed to teach you things that you cannot easily learn in any other way. 

Normally, you are not writing for publication, though an exceptionally good thesis may provide the basis for an academic article or short book.

You will probably write something longer and more complicated than what you've done before. You will learn to work with and organize your material how an academic researcher would.

Most master's theses are between 75-100 pages. We set a limit of around 100 pages, and we will ask you to shorten it if your thesis exceeds this. The library keeps electronic copies of all master's theses. Look at a few to get a sense of what is acceptable work.

Scheduling your work

Each new student is assigned a supervisor. Speak with your assigned supervisor about your interests and your program. Try in your first term to talk to all the faculty members who seem to share some of your academic interests.

You will enter the program with ideas about what you might do in the way of thesis research. Discuss these ideas with your assigned supervisor. Ask for suggestions on turning your proposed topic into a manageable thesis project.

You will need to do a good deal of background reading to prepare yourself for your thesis research. With your supervisor's guidance you may write some preliminary papers and get credit for the work as a directed readings course.

If you do the proposal and necessary background work during the fall term, you should be able to start your thesis writing when classes start in January. Six months work is enough to bring your thesis to a successful conclusion.

Finishing on time

A master's program is designed for full-time students.

To finish in 12 months, plan for many hours of work during this period. Begin working early and maintain regular communication with your supervisor.