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Political Science (2002-2003)

Admission | Courses | Program | Requirements

Department Chairperson: Charles J. Helm
Graduate Committee Chairperson: Jutta A. Helm
Department Office: Morgan Hall 422
Department Telephone: 309/298-1055 Fax: 309/298-1857
WWW Address:
Location of Program Offering: Macomb only

Graduate Faculty

  • Professors
    • William D. Anderson, Ph.D., University of Illinois
    • Charles J. Helm, Ph.D., University of North Carolina
    • Jutta A. Helm, Ph.D., University of North Carolina
  • Associate Professors
    • Phyllis Farley Rippey, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Charles H. Weston, Ph.D., University of Chicago
  • Assistant Professors
    • Vincent A. Auger, Ph.D., Harvard University
    • Keith Boeckelman, Ph.D., University of Illinois
    • Martin Dupuis, Ph.D., University of Southern California
    • Aimee D. Shouse, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University

Associate Graduate Faculty

  • Assistant Professor
    • Adam Chacksfield, Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin
    • David Connelly, ABD, State University of New York at Albany
    • Sharon Wrobel, ABD, University of Texas at Dallas

Program Description

The Department of Political Science at Western Illinois University offers an intensive program of study and guided research to qualified applicants holding the bachelor's degree. The M.A. degree in political science may be earned in any one of the following areas of specialization: a) American government; b) comparative politics and international relations; c) public administration and public policy.

The curriculum is designed to provide graduate students with a broad and solid foundation in political science suitable for careers in teaching, research, government work, public service, community development, and continued study at the Ph.D. level.

Admission Requirements

The criteria for admission into the graduate program in political science are:

  1. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or, for the last two years of undergraduate work, a GPA of 3.0;
  2. The GRE is not required for admission into the master's program. However, it is recommended for those students with an overall GPA below 2.75 or those students with a GPA below 3.0 in their last two years of undergraduate work;
  3. Submission of a writing sample in English of at least several pages in length such as a short essay, a research paper, or a statement outlining academic or career goals. (For a student applying for a graduate assistantship, completion of the autobiographical sketch and the statement on reasons for desiring an assistantship will be sufficient);
  4. A TOEFL score of 550 or above for international students whose native language is not English or satisfactory completion of the WESL program. International students generally will be required to complete deficiency courses as a way to strengthen their English language skills and understanding of the political process;
  5. At least three letters of recommendation; and
  6. A substantial number of political science courses at the undergraduate level. Students who fail to meet this requirement must successfully complete undergraduate deficiency courses with a grade of B or better.

Applications for graduate assistantships are considered throughout the year. However, preference will be shown to students who apply for assistantships by April 15.

Degree Requirements

A total of 30 semester hours is required for the M.A. degree. This includes four core courses and twelve to eighteen semester hours of course work in the student’s chosen area of specialization. Core courses must be chosen from the following list:

  • Graduate Core Requirements:
    • POLS 558 Scope and Methods of Political Science: 3 s.h.
    • POLS 553 International Relations or POLS 568 Comparative Government and Politics: 3 s.h.
    • POLS 563 Seminar in American Politics or POLS 583 Seminar in American Political Thought: 3 s.h.
    • POLS 493G Seminar in Organization Theory and Behavior or POLS 546 Public Administration: 3 s.h.
      TOTAL CORE: 12 s.h.

In addition to completing twelve semester hours in the core courses and at least twelve semester hours in their area of specialization (not including POLS 602), students must choose one of the following degree tracks:

  • Thesis Track
    • Core: 12 s.h.
    • Area of Specialization: 12 s.h.
    • POLS 600: 3 s.h.
    • POLS 601: 3 s.h.
      TOTAL PROGRAM: 30 s.h.
  • Two Paper Track
    • Core: 12 s.h.
    • Area of Specialization: 12 s.h.
    • Electives: 6 s.h.
      TOTAL PROGRAM: 30 s.h.
  • Applied Thesis Project Track. This track is limited to students in the Peace Corps Fellows Program.
    • Core: 12 s.h.
    • Area of Specialization: 12 s.h.
    • POLS 601: 3 s.h.
    • POLS 602: 3 s.h.
      TOTAL PROGRAM: 30 s.h.

Theses, the two papers, and thesis projects must be defended before a committee of three faculty members selected by the student and approved by the chair of the Graduate Committee. For the two paper option, at least one paper must be in the area of specialization.

Up to six semester hours (at least three of which must be at the 500 level) may be taken outside the department for graduate credit if approved by the chairperson of the Departmental Graduate Committee. Each student may take a maximum of three semester hours in POLS 501, Independent Study. Additional hours in POLS 501 may be taken only by petitioning the Departmental Graduate Committee.

To satisfy the requirements for the M.A. degree, a student must pass a comprehensive exam in his/her area of specialization (POLS 603). The department will administer the comprehensive exams three times a year. Students admitted to the program in the fall of 1995 or later must pass both parts of the comprehensive exam by the third attempt. Students failing to do so will be removed from the program.

Course Descriptions

410G Constiutional Law: Governmental Organization and Powers. (3) An examination of constitutional law in the United States, with emphasis on cases dealing with the framework, powers, and function of the federal system. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

411G Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. (3) An examination of U.S. Constitutional law, with special emphasis upon civil liberties and civil rights cases. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

440G Arms Control and Disarmament. (3) Systematic analysis of the disarmament efforts of nations; role of international organizations; problems of national security and inspection; economic and political implications. Prerequisite: POLS 228 or permission of instructor.

446G Conflict Resolution and International Peacekeeping. (3) Study of the history and practice of international peacekeeping operations. Emphasis on international organizations and the feasibility of conflict resolution and collective security. Prerequisite: POLS 122 and POLS 228.

448G The Supreme Court. (3) An examination of the role of the Supreme Court in the federal judiciary and in the U.S. political system. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

451G Revolution and Political Change. (3) The causes and consequences, foreign and domestic, of revolution, political turmoil, and violence. Case studies of contemporary political systems that have undergone dramatic change. Prerequisite: POLS 228 or POLS 267.

455G Political Parties, PACs and Pressure Groups. (3) Structure and functions of political parties and interest groups with special emphasis upon the United States. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

490G Bureaucracy and Public Policy. (3) The role of the public bureaucracy in the policy-making and policy-formation process. Legislative and judicial policy-making are contrasted with administrative policy making. Prerequisite: POLS 300 or POLS 302 or permission of instructor.

493G Seminar in Organization Theory and Behavior. (3) Review of classical and modern theories of administration. Goals and expectations of high echelon administrators. Treatment of authority relationships in formal organizations. Prerequisite: POLS 300 or POLS 302 or permission of instructor.

494G Public Budgeting Systems. (3) Financial and budgetary processes and problems of public agencies at various governmental levels. Includes types and functions of budgets. Systematic program evaluation and budgetary allocation questions are emphasized. Prerequisite: POLS 300 or POLS 302 or permission of instructor.

501 Independent Study. (1—6, repeatable to 6) Permission to take this course for more than three hours of credit must be obtained beforehand from the Departmental Graduate Committee.

546 Public Administration. (3) (Colloquium) This course is an examination and discussion of selected problems, concepts, and issues of public administration.

549 Public Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation. (3) Analysis of the processes of policy formation, policy contents, and outcomes of a number of domestic policy areas and niches.

553 International Relations. (3) (Colloquium) An examination of selected topics in international relations.

554 American Foreign Policy. (3) An examination of selected topics in American foreign policy.

558 Scope and Methods of Political Science. (3) Philosophy of science as it applies to political science, the study of contemporary approaches used in explaining political phenomena, and techniques of research.

560 Rural Community: Government, Politics, and Policies. (3) Examination of political characteristics of rural and small town communities, such as structures of government, decision-making patterns, public policy issues, and administrative problems.

563 Seminar in American Politics. (3) An examination of selected major issues of American politics.

566 Legislative Process. (3) An examination of the institutional and external influences on the functions of the American Congress.

568 Comparative Government and Politics. (3) (Colloquium) An examination of selected topics in theories of comparative government.

571 Political Systems of the Developing Areas. (3) An examination of selected topics on political systems of developing areas.

577 United States–Russian Relations. (3) An examination of the global competition and cooperation between the two nations.

580 Skills in Community Development. (3) This course emphasizes the practical skills required to be an effective community developer, including conflict resolution, leadership, comunication, and community capacity-building. The focus is on skill-building, as students are provided opportunities to practice new techniques. Topics will be modified as new technologies and other external factors impact the practice of community development. Graded S/U. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

583 Seminar in American Political Thought. (3) An examination of the major political theories and figures in the development of American political thought.

592 Public Personnel Politics and Administration. (3) Historical overview of public sector hiring systems. Coverage of legal and management issues in personnel administration. Examination of political context of government recruitment.

600 Thesis Research. (3) The selection and development of a thesis topic in the field of political science.

601 Thesis. (3)

602 Internship in Public Affairs. (1-3, repeatable to 6) Prerequisite: 18 semester hours with a GPA of 3.0 or above.

603 Comprehensive Examination. (0) Students will complete a written comprehensive examination in their chosen area of emphasis. The examination will be graded either satisfactory or unsatisfactory and will be administered three times a year. Students admitted to the program in the fall of 1995 or later must pass both parts of the examination by the third attempt. Students failing to do so will be removed from the program. Prerequisites: Approval of the department graduate adviser.

Western Illinois University.

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