THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA GRADUATE CATALOG
Table of Contents > College of Arts & Sciences

6.18 DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE (PSC)

Chairperson: Professor Richard Fording, Office: 309 ten Hoor Hall

 

The department offers programs leading to the master of arts (MA), master of public administration (MPA), and doctor of philosophy (PhD) degrees. Much more detailed information relating to the degrees offered by the Department of Political Science is contained in the Graduate Handbook at the web site of the Political Science Department. Students and prospective students should consult as well as this catalog.

 

Master of Arts

Admission Requirements
Applicants for admission to the MA program must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination general test.
Additional information is in the Admission Criteria section of this catalog.


Degree Requirements
Plans I and II. MA students may follow either Plan I, requiring 30 semester hours of coursework, a written comprehensive examination, a thesis, and an oral examination in defense of the thesis; or Plan II, requiring 36 hours of coursework and a written comprehensive examination.
 
Course requirements. Under either plan, students must take courses in three of five fields, including a core seminar in each. The available fields are American politics, comparative politics, international relations, public policy and administration, and political theory.
Students select one major field and two minor fields. Plan I students take 9 hours in the major field and 6 in each of two minor fields; Plan II students take 12 hours in the major field and 6 in each of two minor fields. The core seminars are PSC 610 Core Seminar in American Politics, PSC 631 Seminar in Comparative Politics, PSC 642 Concepts and Theories of International Relations, PSC 651 Political Theory Seminar, and PSC 565 Survey of Public Administration. All students must complete PSC 521 Research Design and PSC 522 Quantitative Methods in Political Science I (or approved substitutes).
 
Comprehensive examination. The written comprehensive examination will cover the student's major field and will require integration of material across courses.
 
After passing the written examination, a student following Plan I should prepare a thesis prospectus, which should describe the substance and methods of the thesis research, outline the thesis itself, and provide a preliminary bibliography. Once the prospectus has been approved, the chairperson will formally appoint a committee of three faculty members to supervise the thesis. The student must take a final oral examination to defend the thesis and show competence in the field in which it lies. Except in unusual circumstances, the final oral examination must be taken during the fall or spring semester and before final course examinations begin. After the examination, the student must
submit the thesis electronically in accordance with procedures laid out in this Catalog.

Detailed information on requirements is in the Degree Requirements section of this catalog.

 

 

Master of Public Administration

Admission Requirements
The MPA is a professional degree program designed primarily for those who plan a career in federal, state, or local government. Applicants for admission to the MPA program must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination general test. Scores from the Miller Analogies Test may be submitted as supplementary information, but not as a substitute for the GRE. Additional information is in the "Academic Policies" section of this catalog.
 
Degree Requirements
Plans I and II. MPA students may follow either Plan I, requiring 30 hours of coursework, a written comprehensive examination, a thesis, and an oral examination in defense of the thesis; or Plan II, requiring 36 hours of coursework and a written comprehensive examination. Students following Plan II may receive up to 6 hours of credit for an internship, and students following Plan I may receive up to 3 hours.
 
Course requirements. MPA students must complete at least three of the following four courses: PSC 565 Survey of Public Administration, PSC 662 Organization Theory, PSC 667 Public Budgeting, and PSC 562 Public Personnel Administration. Including the preceding, at least 18 hours must be taken from the courses listed under "Public Policy and Administration." Student must also complete PSC 522 Quantitative Methods in Political Science I.

 

Detailed information on requirements is in the Degree Requirements section of this catalog.
 

 

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements
Admission to the PhD program requires either a bachelor's or a master's degree. Applicants must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination general test.

Degree Requirements
Major and minor fields. PhD students must choose and develop competence in one major field, a secondary field, and a third field (see fields listed above under MA Course Requirements).  In exceptional cases, a student may choose their third field outside the department, with special permission from the graduate studies committee.

 

The PhD Plan of Study is available at the Graduate School website.  All doctoral students must have a completed Plan of Study approved by the Graduate School no later than the semester during which the student will complete 30 semester hours of UA and/or transfer credit for the doctoral degree.  Otherwise, a “hold” may be placed on future registrations.
 
 
Course requirements. The student's plan of study for the PhD degree must be approved by the department and the Graduate School by the time the student completes 30 graduate semester hours of UA and/or transfer course work. PhD students must complete at least
51 hours of graduate coursework.  At least 18 hours must be taken within the student's major field, at least 12 hours must be taken within the secondary field, and at least 9 hours must be taken in the third field.  Up to 24 hours may be transferred from other institutions, with the permission of the graduate studies committee and with some limits on the number of courses per field that can be transferred.  Students must take the core seminars in their fields (see the list under "MA Course Requirements" above). In addition, all students must complete 9 hours of methods courses, including PSC 521 Research Design, PSC 522 Quantitative Methods in Political Science I, and PSC 621 Quantitative Methods in Political Science II.
 
 
Students interested in pursuing a topic in greater depth than the standard course offerings allow may take up to 12 hours of
 PSC 595 Directed Reading and PSC 598 Individual Research, with up to 6 hours in the major field and three hours in each of the secondary and third fields. 
 
 
Language requirement.
 A foreign language is required of PhD students if appropriate to the student's research interests. The appropriateness of the foreign language requirement shall be determined by the relevant faculty in the student's primary field of interest prior to the student's completion of 18 hours in residence in the PhD program.  Students may, with approval of the Graduate Studies Committee, substitute foreign language for the PSC 621 requirement. 
  
Comprehensive examination.
 Before writing a dissertation, but only after completing at least two full years of graduate study and completing all course requirements, PhD students must take and pass written comprehensive examinations in their major and secondary fields. Students whose written results are weak but fall short of failing will be required to pass an oral exam. Exams will be given during fall and spring semesters only. 
 
 
Candidacy.
 Students who have fulfilled the course requirements and passed the comprehensive examination become PhD candidates after the Graduate School approves the student’s formal application to candidacy for the doctoral degree.  
 
 
Dissertation.
 Students must complete no less than 24 hours of dissertation credit (699). As soon as possible after satisfying the requirements for candidacy, each student should submit three copies of a dissertation prospectus to the department chairperson, who will establish a dissertation committee of five faculty members, with at least three from the Department of Political Science and at least one from another department. The prospectus should contain the same information as an MA thesis prospectus (see above). 
 
 
The department chairperson will decide whether to approve the prospectus, on the recommendation of the dissertation committee. Once the prospectus has been approved, the student may begin work on the dissertation itself, under the supervision of his or her dissertation committee. When finished, the student must take a final oral examination to defend
the dissertation and demonstrate competence in the field in which it lies. The examination, conducted by the dissertation committee, must ordinarily be held during the fall or spring semester. Following a successful defense, the student must submit the thesis electronically in accordance with procedures laid out in this Catalog.


 

Course Descriptions
Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

American Politics

PSC 511 Public Opinion. Three hours.
The formation, distribution, structure, properties, and techniques of measuring public opinions in the United States.

PSC 512 Urban and Metropolitan Government. Three hours.
An examination of the implications of urban growth, the organization of urban and metropolitan areas, and the political forces operating at this level.

PSC 566 Urban Policy. Three hours.
An examination of urban political structure and its influence upon selected areas of public policy in contemporary urban society.

PSC 611 American Political Behavior. Three hours.
Research and methodology in the areas of social and psychological factors related to voting, party preference, and ideology.

PSC 612 Judicial Politics. Three hours.
Examines the role of the courts in political systems with primary emphasis on the United States Supreme Court.

PSC 614 State Politics. Three hours.
An investigation of electoral, executive, legislative, bureaucratic, and judicial politics in American states.

PSC 615 American National Government Executive and Legislative Institutions. Three hours.
An examination of the structure, operation, and politics of national government executive and legislative institutions.

PSC 616 Topics in American Politics. Three hours.
An examination of selected problems in American politics. Content varies.



Comparative Political Systems

PSC 531 Political Development. Three hours.
An examination of the political processes in the developing world, especially of the stress of change and impact of economic development on political life.

PSC 533 Communism, Europe 1945–89. Three hours.
The interaction of Marxist theory and practice in various national settings, with attention to the differential evolution of Communist regimes and parties.

PSC 543 Comparative Public Policy. Three hours.
An examination of the actors and processes involved in making public policy, with an emphasis on the question of what kinds of governments are responsive to popular demands.

PSC 631 Seminar in Comparative Politics. Three hours.
A survey of the theoretical literature in the field of comparative politics.

PSC 632 Topics in Comparative Politics. Three hours.
An examination of selected problems in comparative politics.

PSC 633 Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics. Three hours.
An examination of highly developed modern authoritarianism in the Soviet Union, dynamics of systemic evolution and failure, as well as patterns and sources of democratization and nondemocratic politics in Russia and the newly independent states.

PSC 634 Politics of Advanced Industrialized Democracies. Three hours.
An examination of the government and politics of the advanced industrialized democracies, including Western Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Precise content varies.

PSC 635 Politics of the European Union. Three hours.
A survey of the literature on European integration. Theories of integration, including neofunctionalism and intergovernmentalism, will be examined. Topics will include EU institutions, political parties and the EU, democracy within the EU, and EU policies.

PSC 637 Postcommunism. Three hours.
Examination of the processes of transition from communist political systems in comparative perspective. Attention to democratization and the revival of authoritarianism in East Central Europe and Eurasia.



International Relations

PSC 513 American Foreign Policy. Three hours.
An examination of the forces and processes affecting United States ' foreign relations. Attention is also given to the content and problems of contemporary American foreign policy.

PSC 514 American Defense Policy. Three hours.
An investigation of the processes involved in making American defense and security policy and the substance of that policy.

PSC 542 International Conflict. Three hours. An examination of the various kinds of violent conflict in which nation-states become involved.

PSC 544 International Organization. Three hours.
This course details the essential structures, actors, land processes in international organizations, by examining both governmental and non-governmental organizations and their roles in the areas of global security, economy, and social welfare.
 

PSC 641 Issues in International Relations. Three hours.
An examination of major problem areas in the international system and their effects. Content varies.

PSC 642 Concepts and Theories of International Relations. Three hours.
A survey of contemporary theoretical approaches to the study of international relations, providing an overview of traditional and behavioral orientations.

PSC 643 International Political Economy. Three hours.
This course considers mercantilist, liberal, and socialist theories of political economy. Topics include international trade and the monetary system, the consequences of interdependence for interstate conflict, the operation of multinational corporations, and economic development.

PSC 644 Interstate Conflict. Three hours.
This is an examination of the causes of interstate war and the conditions that promote peace and security. Realist and liberal theories of war are contrasted. Historical and formal analyses are considered, but emphasis is on the use of quantitative methods of analysis.



Methodology

PSC 521 Research Design. Three hours.
Includes but is not limited to the role of theory, development of hypotheses, modes of observation and analysis, and testing of hypotheses.

PSC 522 Quantitative Methods in Political Science I. Three hours.
Introduction to statistical techniques, including univariate and bivariate descriptive statistics and their application within the field of political science.

PSC 523 Survey Research Methods. Three hours.
Examination of the theory and practice of various types of surveys and different parts of the survey research process (e.g., sampling, questionnaire design, interviewing, and data reduction).

PSC 621 Quantitative Methods in Political Science II. Three hours.
Prerequisites: PSC 521 and PSC 522, or equivalents.
Data analysis and statistical applications in political research, including data processing, inferential statistics, correlation and regression, multivariate analysis, and other multidimensional techniques.

PSC 622 Seminar in Political Science Methodology. Three hours.
May be repeated for up to 6 hours of credit. Topics vary and may range from case studies and historical analysis to mathematical modeling and computer simulation.



Political Theory

PSC 552 American Political Thought. Three hours.
Investigates the origin and direction of the U.S. political ideology, including liberalism, civic republicanism, and debates condemning American exceptionalism.

PSC 650 Ancient Political Thought. Three hours.
A consideration of classic thinkers including Thucydides, the Pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine. Attention will also be given to how more recent theorists have dealt with the ancients.

PSC 651 Modern Political Thought. Three hours.
An examination of key political theorists from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Assigned works may vary but typically include those by Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, J. S. Mill, Marx, and Nietzsche.

PSC 653 Topics in Political Theory. Three hours.
An examination of selected political theorists. Content varies.

PSC 654 Twentieth-Century Political Thought: Political Judgment. Three hours.
This course asks what political judgment is and whether or not we have lost our capacity for it. Readings include the works of Arendt, Marcuse, Oakeshott, and Nietzsche.



Public Policy and Administration

PSC 561 Administrative Regulation. Three hours.
The impact of legal powers and procedures of administrative agencies on public policy. Analysis of regulatory powers in American governments.

PSC 562 Public Personnel Administration. Three hours.
A study of the American public personnel system, with an emphasis on the political setting of government employment, equal opportunity and affirmative action, and collective bargaining.

PSC 565 Survey of Public Administration. Three hours.
Introduction to the scope, theory, and substantive issues of public administration.

PSC 613 Intergovernmental Relations. Three hours.
A study of intergovernmental relationships in selected policy areas, with attention given to grant-in-aid programs and other devices of cooperative federalism.

PSC 661 The Environment of Public Administration. Three hours.
An analysis of the physical, technological, legal, and political environments of administration.

PSC 662 Organization Theory. Three hours.
An analysis of the theories of organization and management that examines models, reviews current administrative philosophy, and presents contemporary trends in organization and management.

PSC 663 Selected Problems in Public Administration. Three hours.
May be repeated up to a maximum of 6 hours of credit. In-depth analysis of a policy issue or administrative problem. Specific topics vary.

PSC 664 Problems of Public Policy. Three hours.
Focuses on issue and policy analysis, with attention to formal and informal processes of policy development and program implementation.

PSC 665 Urban Administration. Three hours.
An examination of major urban problems and the administrative approach to solving these problems.

PSC 666 Political Economy and Public Policy. Three hours. An examination of the political economy/public choice approach to the study of public policy.

PSC 667 Public Budgeting. Three hours.
Problems of financial management in governmental units: revenue sources, budgeting, financial management, and control.


Miscellaneous

PSC 500 Department Seminar I. Five hours.
Once-monthly information sessions required of new political science graduate students.

PSC 501 Department Seminar II. Five hours.
A continuation of PSC 500.

PSC 595 Directed Reading. One to three hours.

PSC 598 Individual Research. One to three hours.

PSC 599 Thesis Research. Variable credit.

PSC 679 Internship and Supervised Research. Three to six hours.
Field work and research opportunities to be supervised by departmental faculty.

PSC 699 Dissertation Research. Variable credit. Three-hour minimum.


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