School of Social Sciences and International Studies

Master of Arts in International and Comparative Politics

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Why Choose International and Comparative Politics?

You want:

  • to change the world by first understanding it better.
  • a program that produces difference makers.
  • a program that is tailored to your area of interest.
  • a program that is flexible to your time, availability, and commitment level.

Success Stories

Kathryn Chaney weaves together her passion for travel, work experiences and two degrees from Wright State to thrive at the Defense Institute of Security Cooperation Studies.
Joshua Cummins, who has degrees in history and international and comparative politics from Wright State, received first-hand lessons on the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar during a fellowship.

Academics and Curriculum

The International and Comparative Politics (ICP) M.A. offers a Research Track and an Exam Track.

Students who pursue the Research Track take a minimum of 30 credit hours of approved coursework, including:

  • 9 credit hours of core seminars (IR Theory, Research Design, Theories of Comparative Politics)
  • 5 elective courses in the student’s major area of concentration:
    • Area Studies
    • Intelligence Studies
    • Democracy and Rights
    • Conflict and Security
  • 3 credit hours of graduate statistics (or acquired or demonstrated proficiency in advanced foreign language)
  • 8 credit hours of thesis or project research

The program is completed with a thesis or applied project, done in close consultation with program faculty.

Students who pursue the Exam Track take a minimum of 30 credit hours of approved coursework, including:

  • 9 credit hours of core requirements (IR Theory, Research Design, Theories of Comparative Politics)
  • 7 elective courses in the student’s major area of concentration:
    • Area Studies
    • Intelligence Studies
    • Democracy and Rights
    • Conflict and Security
  • 3 credit hours of graduate statistics (or acquired or demonstrated proficiency in advanced foreign language)
  • 1 credit for PLS 7970 (Graduate General Examination)

Students tailor the program to meet their interests. Students are encouraged to include education abroad opportunities

Students may pursue practicum credit, including internships, in conjunction with this capstone.

View the Master of Arts in International and Comparative Politics program information and requirements in the Academic Catalog.


  • Admission to this program is competitive.
  • Applications are reviewed in the spring for fall admission.
  • Students usually need two years to complete the program.
  • Applications are done through the Wright State Graduate School.
  • Your application will include the following:
    • essays
    • letters of recommendation
    • transcripts
  • The priority deadline for all materials is March 1.
  • Qualified applicants will be interviewed by phone or in person.
  • Decisions will be announced by April 15.
  • Contact the program director, Dr. Vaughn Shannon (, with questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What materials do I have to submit in my application packet?

    Please follow all guidelines established by the WSU Graduate School. 

    In addition to these requirements, the ICP program also requires a Statement of Purpose and a 500-word essay discussing a topic in international relations or comparative politics that interests you. After your application is submitted, you will also be asked to set up an admissions interview to complete the process.

  • Why do I have to write an essay?

    This writing sample is one of the most important aspects of your application materials and provides the admissions committee a good sense of both your interests and your abilities. You should treat this essay as a piece of academic writing and use some of the best sources available on your topic of interest. While no one will count every word in your essay, please try to keep it within approximately 500 words. The topic of the essay is less important than the quality of the text.

  • What is the admissions interview?

    The program director meets with each applicant (either in person or online) after the student’s complete application has been received. This provides an opportunity for both the program director and the applicant to address any remaining questions about the program and application process, and to discuss the application materials in more depth prior to the meeting of the ICP Admissions Committee.

  • Do I have to take the GRE or any other admissions tests?

    The ICP program does not require the submission of any admission scores, including the GRE or other such exams.

  • Who should compose the letters of recommendation?

    The ICP program requires three letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to your academic and intellectual skills. Preferably, these letters should be written by faculty members who know your academic work. For students who have been away from their college or university for a number of years, it is acceptable to submit letters of recommendation from supervisors who are able to address the potential of the applicant. Seek your letter writers in a strategic fashion so that the combined package of letters can address your range of skills and abilities.

  • What is the “priority deadline”?

    Each year, the program posts a priority deadline of the March 1. Students who have submitted a complete application packet to the Graduate School by March 1 will receive first consideration for the next academic year. 

  • Can I apply after the priority deadline in March?

    Yes, applications are considered on a rolling basis for summer, fall, and spring semesters.

  • How many applicants are admitted to the ICP Program each Fall?
  • Can I begin the program in Spring semester?

    Yes, applications are considered on a rolling basis for summer, fall, and spring semesters.

  • Can I receive credit for study abroad?

    As a program that focuses on international relations and comparative politics, we strongly encourage students to take advantage of academic programs in countries around the world, either sponsored directly by Wright State University (“Ambassador Programs”), or through one of our consortia of education abroad programs. Please meet with your thesis chairperson or the ICP Program Director to confirm the applicability of individual programs to your program of study, and consult the University Center for International Education for current opportunities.

  • Where can I find out more information related to study abroad opportunities?

    Stop by the University Center for International Education (UCIE), in E 190 Student Union, for more information on Study Abroad Programs.  You can also set up an appointment to meet with Ms. Megan Trickler at (937) 775-5745. Watch for brown bag presentations and other programs offered by this office!

  • How long will it take me to complete my M.A. degree?

    The 30-hour minimum M.A. program is structured to be completed in 4 semesters.  Summer coursework has helped some students with this goal, and a few have finished in 3 semesters.  Part-time students take longer.

  • Can I participate in internships?

    The real-world experiences that are fostered through internships – both in the United States and abroad – are superb preparation for a variety of careers in international affairs. Students in the ICP program have pursued a variety of internships, in England, Costa Rica, Japan, and throughout the United States. We definitely encourage these experiences, and work closely with WSU’s Office of Career Services to promote these opportunities.

  • What opportunities are there for assistantships and scholarships?

    A limited amount of student scholarships are available for ICP students. Visit the Tuition and Scholarships webpage for more information.

  • I already speak multiple languages – will I have to study another new language for this degree?

    Students who believe they have achieved the required level of proficiency in a modern language will need to demonstrate that proficiency in order to receive a waiver from the methodological requirement of the degree. In these cases, such students will be strongly encouraged to continue advanced study of modern language (when applicable), or to enroll in the quantitative analysis option of the methodological component of the degree.

  • Can I take courses outside of Political Science?

    Many of the topics and issues of importance in international relations and comparative politics straddle the lines of academic boundaries that universities establish. Therefore, we strongly encourage students to pursue related coursework in departments outside of Political Science, and as a policy, students can include two approved courses from other departments as part of their formal program of study. ICP students also have the option to pursue a dual degree with ICP and the Master of Public Administration program, as discussed below.

  • What languages can I study at Wright State University?

    Currently, Wright State University regularly offers upper-level classes in French and Spanish. For more information, please contact Modern Languages at (937) 775-2942.

  • Can I join this program and continue to work full-time?

    We have a number of students who participate in our M.A. program while maintaining a full-time work position outside of the university. While this can present some challenges during the busiest semesters of the graduate program (especially the first semester of study), a number of students have found creative ways to manage their time and believed that their graduate study enhanced work in a related career.

  • Can I combine this M.A. degree with any other degree programs at Wright State?

    Students are able to combine their M.A. work in the International and Comparative Politics program with additional coursework in other graduate programs on campus. Some students complete two M.A. degrees at one time. We also offer a formal dual degree option with the M.A. Program in ICP and the Master of Public Administration Program, the MPA. Students who are interested in this dual degree will need to apply separately to both degree programs. After acceptance into both programs, the program directors will arrange for a joint meeting with the student in order to map out the program of study for the student. At that point, the dual degree student will need to designate with one of the programs, either the ICP MA or the MPA degree will be primary, and which will be secondary. This designation will determine which methodological requirements the student will take, and will detail the number of required electives in each program. For more information on the MPA program, please call (937) 775-2845, or visit the MPA website.

    We also work closely with the Women’s Studies program, and have had a number of students pursue the Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies while completing their M.A. degree. For more information on these options, please call (937) 775-2667, or visit the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies website.

    Students who are considering work within the NGO and nonprofit sector should consider the Nonprofit Administration and Leadership Certificate, offered through the WSU Department of Urban Affairs and Geography. For more information, please call (937) 775-3650 or visit the Non-Profit Administration Certificate page.

    Another program of interest to many ICP students in the program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), offered through WSU’s Department of English Language and Literatures. A number of ICP students have earned the Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) through their participation in an intensive summer certificate program. For more information, please call (937) 775-2268 or visit the TESOL Concentration page.


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