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Degree Requirements

MA and PhD academic requirements for our graduate program can be found at Faculty of Graduate Studies—Program Requirements.


The MA generally takes a full calendar year to complete, with the summer term devoted to completing the Research Paper or Thesis.  The three options for the MA are:

  1. three full-year courses (or their equivalent in full and half-year courses) plus the MA Research Paper,
  2. four full course equivalents with one 25-30 page essay identified as a designated research paper written as part of the requirements for a 6000-level graduate-only course, or
  3. two full courses plus an MA Thesis.  We generally discourage students from taking the thesis option unless they have a very solid background in the discipline and a research topic important enough to warrant one-half of their time for a full year.
  • MA candidates must take courses in at least two of the program's five fields.  Those who plan to proceed to the PhD program are advised to select their courses with the future in mind.
  • All MA students must enrol in the MA Colloquium, a half credit course graded on a pass/fail basis.  The MA Colloquium seeks to familiarize students with the range of scholarly work in which members of the Political Science faculty are engaged.
  • York also offers a part-time MA program.  Its general requirements are identical to the full-time program described above, save that candidates normally take only one full course per year.
  • Candidates for the MA whether full or part-time, must complete all degree requirements within four years of their initial registration.

Please visit How to Apply for detailed instructions on applying to the program.


The PhD program generally requires at least four years of full-time study, with considerable variation depending on the nature of the candidate's dissertation research.  Faculty regulations require the completion of all requirements no later than six years after the first enrolling in the program.

The stages of a PhD career can be summarized as follows:

  1. Coursework over two years;
  2. Qualifying Examinations, normally at the end of the first and/or second year;
  3. The Dissertation Proposal Workshop, which should be completed by the Fall term of the third year;
  4. The Dissertation, which from the initial proposal to the final defence takes anywhere from a year and a half to three and a half years.

Usually involves four full courses or their equivalent, with two courses taken each year. Students with specialized interests or deficiencies in their Political Science background may be required to take additional coursework to ensure an adequate grounding. In both the first and second years, students will normally take two courses. At least one-half course must be in a field other than their major or minor (although this requirement may be met by other coursework taken at the MA level). Students will have to take both core courses in the first year.

Must be passed before the candidate can proceed to the dissertation stage.  The examinations have a sit-down format, with questions released 24 hours beforehand.  In some cases, the written examination will be followed by an oral session.

Must be completed by no later than the seventh term in the PhD program (normally the Fall Term of their third year). The proposal workshop consists of 3 three-hour sessions offered on a monthly basis during the Fall term of the academic year (with dates set for late September, October and November). Students will receive a passing grade by attending all three sessions, including preparation, circulation and presentation of a draft of the proposal by the third session.

From its earliest stages, is prepared in close consultation with the candidate's supervisory committee.  The dissertation proposal must be submitted to the committee who will meet as a body with the student to discuss the project.  Once the proposal is approved, further reports on the progress of the dissertation will be required.  When an approved final draft is completed, a dissertation defence will be held.

Please visit How to Apply for detailed instructions on applying to the program.

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The Graduate Program in Political Science at York is an exciting environment to pursue innovative, socially engaging, career-ready education. Contact our Graduate Program Assistant to learn more.