Political Science

Political Science Graduate Catalog

Admission | Courses | Program | Requirements

Department Chairperson:  Keith Boeckelman
Graduate Committee Chairperson: Gregory Baldi
Department Office:  Morgan Hall 422
Department Telephone: (309) 298-1055 Fax: (309) 298-1739
Department E-mail: p-science@wiu.edu 
Website: wiu.edu/politicalscience 
Location of Program Offering: Macomb

Graduate Faculty


  • Julia Albarracin, Ph.D., University of Florida–Gainesville
  • Vincent A. Auger, Ph.D., Harvard University
  • Keith Boeckelman, Ph.D., University of Illinois
  • Jongho Lee, Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin

Associate Professors

  • Gregory Baldi, Ph.D., Georgetown University
  • Jonathan Day, Ph.D., University of Iowa
  • Casey LaFrance, Ph.D., Northern Illinois University
  • MaCherie Placide, D.P.A., Hamline University
  • Erin Taylor, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


  • Victoria Smith, JD, Harvard Law School

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. 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);
  3. At least three letters of recommendation, two of which must be academic references; and
  4. A substantial number of political science courses at the undergraduate level. Students who fail to meet this requirement may be required to 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. Applicants for assistantships are encouraged to discuss in their personal statements any skills they may have (computer or language skills, for example) that may be relevant to graduate assistant tasks of importance to the department.

Degree Requirements

I. Core Courses: 12 s.h.

POLS 558 Scope and Methods of Political Science (3) 
POLS 553 International Relations* (3) 
POLS 568 Comparative Government and Politics* (3) 
POLS 563 Seminar in American Politics (3) 
POLS 583 Seminar in American Political Thought (3) 
POLS 493G Seminar in Organization Theory and Behavior (3) 
POLS 546 Public Administration (3) 
POLS 603 Comprehensive Examination (0)

*Students choosing the Comparative Politics and International Relations specialization must take both POLS 553 and POLS 568 to satisfy core requirements and 9 sh in area of specialization.

II. Select one of the following exit options: 18 s.h.

A. Thesis

Area of Specialization (12) 
POLS 600 Thesis Research (3) 
POLS 601 Thesis (3)

B. Two Paper

Area of Specialization (12) 
Electives (6) 
POLS 604 Political Science Papers (0)

C. Applied Thesis Project.  This option is limited to students in the Peace Corps Fellows Program. 

Area of Specialization (12)
POLS 601 (3) 
POLS 602 (3)


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 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

400G Comparative Public Policy. (3) The course will examine the public policy process and public policy outcomes using a comparative perspective. It will analyze different policy areas in diverse contexts (e.g. industrial and developing countries) and in selected cases in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Prerequisites: POLS 267, 300 or 302, or permission of instructor.

410G Constitutional 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.

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.

440G International Security and Arms Control. (3) Systematic analysis of the disarmament efforts of nations; role of international organizations; problems of national security and inspection; economic and political implications.

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.

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.

454G Interest Group Politics. (3) The study of interest group politics in the United States, including theories of group development and maintenance, their roles in American politics, their methods of influence, and their effect on governmental behavior. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

465G Genocide in Our Time. (3) Case studies of recent genocides with examples from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.  Examination of the perspectives of social scientists, victims, perpetrators and witnesses. Prerequisite: POLS 267 or 228.

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 is contrasted with administrative policy making.

493G Seminar in Organization Theory and Behavior. (3) Review of classical and modern theories of administration. Goals and expectations of high echelon administrators and analysis of authority relationships in formal organizations are emphasized.

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.

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 provides an overview of the problems and issues that confront public administrators and introduces contemporary public management theory and skills for dealing with the problems and issues.

550 Nonprofit Management. (3) This course will focus on defining and categorizing the third sector and then exploring its relationship to the public sector as value guardians.  Considerable attention will be paid to the role nonprofits play in the formulation and execution of public policy.

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.

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.

567 Ethics in the Public Sector. (3) This course will examine the ethical dimensions of the public sector through an administrative responsibility lens. Administrative responsibility will be explored through examination of the principles of responsiveness, fairness, flexibility, honesty, accountability, and competence.

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.

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 Management. (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. Graded S/U. Prerequisite: Approval of the Department Graduate Adviser.

604 Political Science Papers. (0) Students in the two-paper option will write and defend two papers on topics approved by a committee of three faculty members selected by the student and approved by the Chair of the Departmental Graduate Committee. Graded S/U. Prerequisite: Permission of the Department Chair.