Please Enter a Search Term

Graduate Frequently Asked Questions






Top ↑


Does having an M.A. in Political Science make much difference compared to just a B.A.?

Yes! Graduate degrees are increasingly the norm for management-type positions. The extra time, effort and financial investment should quickly pay off. Statistics show that M.A. graduates find jobs sooner, have greater earning power, and higher job satisfaction than those with just the B.A. degree. A graduate degree can also lead to a different career path. While B.A. holders in Political Science tend to find jobs in administration and regulations, computing, teaching, and writing and public relations, people completing an M.A. in Political Science often pursue occupations such as university professors, policy and program officers, human resources and business services professionals, judges and lawyers, and managers in public administration.

How is the Master of Arts in Political Science program organized?

The degree of Master of Arts in Political Science is offered by full-time and part-time study. It may be taken by course work and thesis, by course work and a major research paper, or by course work and internship. Generally students taking the full time M.A. program fall into one of two groups: (1) those pursuing the internship option which provides students with an interest in public policy the option to gain some practical work experience in the field, or (2) the research option for those interested in broader academic and analytical issues. Both options are one-year programs for full-time students. In situations where students are committed to pursuing a Ph.D. or may simply want to do a more serious research project, they can be admitted to the thesis stream. Although the thesis stream can be completed in one year, it is often the case that it takes between one and two years to complete. The thesis stream also places more emphasis on core Political Science subfield courses. Part-time students can enroll in either the research paper or the thesis stream options but are not eligible for the internship stream. See the Program Options page for the specific requirement of each program stream.

What is the difference between the thesis/research paper streams and the internship stream?

The choice of streams is up to the individual student. In the past, it was generally believed that a thesis or major research paper was a necessary component of a Masters program for students planning to continue on and enroll in a Ph.D. program. Today, opinions are mixed on this. The major difference really comes down to the fact that the internship stream offers some (paid) practical experience that may give graduates an advantage in pursuing non-academic careers, while the research-oriented streams provide greater training in conducting academic research.

How long will the Master of Arts degree take to finish?

The internship and research paper streams should be completed within the one year time frame. The internship stream has a particularly strong track record in producing timely completion within 12 months. This is one of the real advantages of graduate studies in our department as many MA programs advertise themselves as being "one year" but take considerably longer to complete. The thesis stream will very likely take more than 12 months. Many students have completed that program early on in their fourth semester (less than 15 months) however some take considerably longer. When working on a graduate thesis it is therefore important to develop a research schedule in consultation with your supervisor.

Does it matter if I do my Masters at the same school that I did my undergraduate degree?

All students who are considering applying to a Masters program should probably apply to more than one institution. If you have very strong grades you may end up with competing financial offers to consider; if you have borderline grades you may not receive an offer of admission from your preferred university. This holds true if you will have completed your undergraduate degree at Memorial and are thinking of applying for admission to our M.A. program. It is common for people to complete two degrees at the same institution.

Is there any way to study the M.A. by distance?

Currently the course work components must be completed on campus, requiring that you be in St. John's. It is possible to complete other program components while not resident in St. John's, although this can add some logistical difficulties for students, and should not be attempted without discussing it with our graduate coordinator.

What types of graduate courses do you offer?

The availability of a particular graduate course depends on the resources of the Department in any given year. Generally the department offers such courses each year tailored to the needs of that year's cohort of graduate students. Information on our range of course offerings is available at the Courses page.

What type of organization will my internship placement be with?

The internship placements are normally with public or nonprofit agencies involved in public policy and administration. In the past, most students have worked with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in one of the main policy agencies. However, it is possible to work for a non-governmental organization (NGO), with the Government of Canada, or with another provincial government.

Is there a chance that our internship can be extended into a permanent position?

In our experience students that have performed well during their internship have been offered ongoing or permanent positions in the office they were placed in. Also, the Co-op office offers a host of professional advising. Students are encouraged to cooperate with the Co-op office in advancing their career search skills.

How many Political Science graduate students are there at Memorial?

Numbers vary from year to year, but each year the Department admits approximately 15 new graduate students.

Are there any topic specializations within the Master of Arts program?

Although there are no formal topic specializations at this time, students in the thesis or research paper streams are encouraged to choose courses that are in a field related to their research topic.

Do you offer a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in Political Science?

The University has an interdisciplinary PH.D. program which makes it possible for a student to pursue a Ph.D. under special arrangements.

Top ↑


What are the requirements for admission to the Master of Arts program?

Admission is limited and competitive. To be considered for admission an applicant shall hold a Bachelor's degree or its equivalent from a recognized institution and should have knowledge of the proposed field of specialization satisfactory to the Department (or Departments, when interdisciplinary study is intended) and to the Dean of Graduate Studies. Preference will normally be given to applicants who hold an appropriate Bachelor's degree. The minimum undergraduate grade average of incoming students in recent years has been 75 percent, however this does not guarantee admission. An applicant may be required to demonstrate a satisfactory knowledge of the proposed field of study. Instruction is in English, and examinations and theses are to be written in English.

How do I apply to study for an MA in Political Science at Memorial?

Application for admission to graduate studies must be made either online (recommended) or on the appropriate form in duplicate to the School of Graduate Studies. The application must be supported by an official transcript of the applicant's university record. Admission to graduate studies shall be upon acceptance by the Dean after assessment of the qualifications of the applicant but no candidate will be admitted unless the academic unit of specialization recommends acceptance along with a proposed program of study and a proposed supervisor or advisor. Successful applicants will be notified by the Dean of Graduate Studies. The applicant may be required to appear for an interview before a final offer of admission is made. The University reserves the right to refuse admission to any applicant.

How do I optimize my chances for acceptance to graduate school?

Students should have a minimum of a 75 (B+) average over the final two years of undergraduate studies, with some first class (A/80+) grades in fourth-year courses. Students intending to write a thesis should be able to state clearly and concisely the general topic of their proposed research topic. These should not be too specific, as the details will have to be worked out with their supervisors. Pay attention to application deadlines and make sure that all of your materials have been submitted prior to the deadline. If you are applying to the M.A. Thesis option, be sure that your proposed area of study fits into the research areas of the Department. You can get advice on this by consulting with Political Science faculty members.

Is an undergraduate Political Science degree a requirement for entry into the MA program?

Generally yes. However, students without a degree in Political Science may be admitted to the program as long as the Department's graduate committee feels that both their area of study and their overall academic background adequately fit within the existing MA program. We will consider a very strong minor (i.e., 10 courses and high grades) in Political Science to be the equivalent of a major.

Will high grades in some extra 3rd or 4th year Political Science courses make me eligible to apply?

If your undergraduate marks are not particularly high, obtaining "A" grades (80% or above) in several fourth-year courses would certainly improve your opportunity for admission. However since this may not guarantee an offer of admission you may wish to first consult with our graduate advisor before taking additional undergraduate courses.

Would my work experience so far help make my application stronger?

Relevant professional experience is a consideration in the application process and can potentially compensate for a lower grade point average. However, strong marks are the foremost consideration when a committee assesses eligibility for the program.

Does it matter if I do my Masters at the same school that I did my undergraduate degree?

All students who are considering applying to a Masters program should probably apply to more than one institution. If you have very strong grades you may end up with competing financial offers to consider; if you have borderline grades you may not receive an offer of admission from your preferred university. This holds true if you will have completed your undergraduate degree at Memorial and are thinking of applying for admission to our M.A. program. It is common for people to complete two degrees at the same institution.

Who do I ask if I have questions about the graduate program?

Questions regarding the graduate program can be directed to our graduate advisor.

Top ↑


I'd like to do an M.A., but how can I afford to continue my university education?

Tuition fees at Memorial are comparatively affordable to many other institutions. Moreover, graduate students in the Department of Political Science often receive some form of financial assistance from the university to support their studies. This can come in the form of a fellowship or paid Graduate Assistance work as a teaching or research assistant. The internship option is normally a paid position. Furthermore, some students may qualify for scholarship opportunities.

How much will it cost to do an MA in Political Science at Memorial?

While tuitions at Memorial are quite affordable, it is also the case that graduate students in the Department of Political Science often receive some form of financial assistance from the university to support their studies. This can come in the form of a fellowship, a paid internship, or paid Graduate Assistance work as a teaching or research assistant. Information about current tuition fee rates is available from the School of Graduate Studies.

Do most students get funding?

We are able to offer some form of funding – fellowship or graduate assistantship – to most students admitted to our programs. However, there is no guarantee of funding, as offers of financial support are made during the application process.

Is the internship paid? If so, approximately how much can I expect?

Most internships are paid and students should expect to earn something close to $6,000 as a minimum. In some case students have chosen to pursue an internship with an NGO that is not paid out of their own interest. However the Co-op office, which handles internship placements, will work with each student to find them a paid placement.

How do I get a job as a "Teaching Assistant"?

Work as a GA teaching assistant is offered on a competitive basis. Students will be given the opportunity to apply for these positions before the start of a teaching semester. Some students will also receive GA awards as part of the funding package offer to them at admission.

Are there any scholarships/bursaries I can apply for?

Yes, see Awards (bottom half of page).

Top ↑


Can I get funding from the Department or School to attend conferences?

You can get travel funding from the School of Graduate Studies.

Will I be given office space? What about photocopying privileges?

Graduate students will be given access to shared office space in the department. Students also may use the Department's photocopier. Inquires should be sent to Juanita Lawrence, the department administrator.

Top ↑


Is there anything I should do to better prepare myself for graduate studies before school starts?

Students are encouraged to take care of their living arrangements (etcetera) before the start of classes as graduate work can be demanding. The fewer distractions you have during the academic year the better.

What kinds of things are there to do in the St. John's area?

St. John's is a safe and picturesque place with all of the amenities you would expect of a city its size. Visitors and residents alike are often intrigued by its colourful row houses, by its proximity to the ocean, and by the local culture. Daytime activities include browsing the shops and cafés along Water and Duckworth streets, visiting Cabot Tower on Signal Hill (site of the first transatlantic radio signal), taking in the quaintness of Quidi Vidi village, and driving out to the Cape Spear lighthouse (the most easterly point in North America). Museum lovers can visit The Rooms, the GEO Centre (features geology, as well as a Titanic and oil/gas exhibit), or the Railway Coastal Museum. The Grand Concourse is a walking system that connects the city's many parks and the East Coast Trail winds along the ocean coast of many area communities. You can also relax in any number of local spas. For more information, visit Newfoundland and Labrador's tourism site.

What's the nightlife like in St. John's?

Ask anyone about nightlife in St. John's and chances are they will mention George Street, which is filled with Newfoundland Irish pubs, jazz halls and mainstream dance clubs. Other activities include taking in a play at the Arts and Culture Centre or the LSPU Hall, watching a dinner theatre production, or listening to a musician at a major venue such as Mile One Centre or at a local pub.

What kinds of things are there to do elsewhere in Newfoundland?

Newfoundland and Labrador is physically vast - similar in size to Japan. You will need a car to visit many areas across the island of Newfoundland, such as quaint fishing villages, lighthouses, lookouts and B&Bs. On the Avalon Peninsula you can see millions of birds (such as gannets) at Cape St. Mary's, take in magnificent theatre in Trinity, view fossils and the site of communications with the Titanic at Cape Race, or walk around Lord Baltimore's 17th century colony in Ferryland.

Hikers and scenery lovers are strongly urged to consider visiting the west coast of Newfoundland in the summer. Gross Morne National Park has incredible views of mountains and fijords, interesting tourist activities (such as ocean kayaking), challenging hiking trails, and great camping. Within it is the Tablelands, a barren area of rust-coloured rocks that were thrust upwards from the mantle of the earth that is so unique that it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not far away you can also learn about Maritime Archaic and Dorset peoples. Further north, on the Northern Peninsula, is L'Anse aux Meadows, the site of a Viking settlement in 998 A.D. and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Labrador is known as "the big land," where you can see the Northern Lights, visit a former whaling station operated by the Basques (Spain) in the 1500s in Red Bay, or spend time in the restored fishing village of Battle Harbour.

You can also visit France! Saint Pierre et Miquelon are French islands off of the Burin Peninsula that feature French cars, cuisine, nightlife and the Euro. They are accessible by ferry from Fortune or by air from the St. John's airport. You will need your passport to clear Customs.

Will I see icebergs and whales?

The number of icebergs floating down to the St. John's area can vary considerably and can be tracked online. If you pay attention to the local news or ask around chances are you will be able to see an iceberg from Signal Hill (or closer) in the spring. Humpback and minke whales are frequent visitors along the coastal shores and can often be seen breeching the ocean surface throughout the summer. One way to see these, as well as Atlantic puffins, is to go on a boat tour out of the St. John's harbour or from another community such as Witless Bay.

What kinds of outdoor activities are there to do?

There is a considerable range of outdoor activities to consider. During the summer and autumn you can go hiking, camping, kayaking, fishing, golfing, or cycling, for instance. Winter activities include skiing, skating, snowshoeing, tobogganing or snowmobiling. Visit Tourism Newfoundland and Labrador for more information.

What kinds of local foods should I try?

Newfoundland is known for its fish and certainly you can experience any number of seafood dishes at St. John's restaurants: cod, salmon, halibut, mussels, scallops, and lobster to name a few. Some local delicacies include scrunchions (fried pork), toutons (fried dough topped with molasses), homemade bread, local game (caribou, moose, rabbit), and the ubiquitous "Sunday jigs dinner" (salt beef, potatoes, cabbage, peas pudding, duff). Desserts often feature local berries (blueberries, partridgeberries, bakeapples). For the more adventurous there are also local beers, berry wines, and Screech rum (the name says it all!).

Will I need to buy a car in St. John's?

St. John's has a public transit system which provides good service between the university and major destinations. Furthermore, unlike universities based in major urban centres, it is usually a short walk between the university and your housing, and other events and services. For example, downtown St. John's is only 1.5km from the University, although during periods of inclement weather walking to Memorial may not be advisable.

What is the weather like in St. John's?

Official weather information is available online at sites such as The Weather Network. Generally speaking, the temperatures in St. John's are not as hot as many other cities in Canada, but nor are they nearly as cold. On the one hand, in the summer and early autumn you can expect to be able to explore ocean coastlines and pick wild berries wearing shorts, sandals and sunscreen. On the other, in the winter and even very early spring you may experience blizzard conditions that temporarily shut down the university, only to find the snowfall melting a few days later. Furthermore all times of year can be prone to what locals call "RDF" (rain, drizzle and fog) so you will need appropriate outdoor clothing. Also, while the air is very clean, the wind can be quite strong at times!

How far is the St. John's airport from the Memorial campus?

There tend to be relatively short travel distances in St. John's. The airport is less than 10 minutes' drive from the Memorial campus and about 10 minutes from downtown.