Political Science

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    Department of Political Science

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Study Guide for the MA Comprehensive Exam

Below you will find information that will help to prepare you for the MA Comprehensive Examination in Political Science at California State University Northridge. The first section indicates the exam fields and particular study areas within the fields that students should prepare themselves for. The second section offers information about the exam format and evaluation criteria. 

Section I: Fields and Study Areas

American Politics

  • Congress
  • The Presidency
  • Parties and Interest Groups
  • American Political Thought
  • Elections and Political Behavior
  • Subnational and Urban Politics
  • Public Law

International Relations

  • Core and Classic Works
  • International Relations Theory
  • Diplomatic History and American Foreign Policy
  • International Law
  • International Organizations
  • International Political Economy

Comparative Politics

  • Comparative Method/Inquiry
  • Political Change (e.g. Modernization, Development, Democratization, Revolution)
  • Political Culture (e.g. political culture, nationalism, social movements)
  • Political Institutions (e.g. the state, political parties, constitutions)
  • Regional Politics (e.g. Advanced Industrialized Nations, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, Africa)

Section II: Exam Format

  • Three examination fields (Comparative, IR, and American) over three different days; students choose two out of the three examination fields to sit for
  • Each exam lasts 4 hours in duration; respondents take the exam in a computer lab on campus with responses to be handed in on disk (Word formatted)
  • Each exam consists of three sections (students must complete all three sections)
  • In the first two sections, students may choose one out of multiple questions; in the last section students must respond to the question given
  • Evaluation of the exam is on a pass/not pass basis
  • Students must adequately pass all 3 sections of the exam
  • Exams are evaluated by Faculty members in the Department of Political Science
To receive a grade of 'PASS' a response must do all of the following:
  • address the key points of the question;
  • cite literature relevant to the response/question, or in some way demonstrates support for the response [other than student assertion];
  • be coherent in terms of written ability.