Jul 15, 2024  
2024-2025 Catalog 
2024-2025 Catalog

Political and Social Justice Studies, M.A.

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The College of Arts and Sciences  graduate major in Political and Social Justice Studies combines traditional disciplinary strengths in political science with a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of social justice. This program encourages students to serve as ‘change agents,’ who will receive solid analytical and theoretical foundations in politics and justice, gain knowledge regarding current social justice issues, and acquire the leadership skills and best-practice strategies necessary for effective work in advocacy and community development. Students will investigate a stimulating range of topics, from the traditional concerns of domestic politics and foreign policy to contemporary local and global social issues such as inequality, community development, human rights advocacy, environmentalism, refugees, and social movements. This program replaces the former Political and Justice Studies, M.A. program, which no longer enrolled students as of Spring 2017 term. Students completing that degree will follow the degree program found in the 2016-2017 Academic Catalog. Students have the option of transferring to this new program.

Program Expected Student Outcomes

Upon completion of the MA in Political and Social Justice program, students will be able to:

1. Critically evaluate classical and contemporary theories of political and social justice.

2. Apply quantitative or qualitative research methods toward an original analysis of an issue in social justice and/or global and comparative politics, including issues of environmental justice, restorative justice, citizenship, migration, gender inequity, racial disparity, and political economy.

3. Apply a comparative political analysis toward the characterization of justice within a particular local, national, or international context.

4. Describe interdependent relationships among institutions, justice, and the individual, including how each influences the other.

5. Assess social justice as a mechanism of individual empowerment to challenge injustice within institutions.

Admission Requirements and Recommended Preparation

In addition to the university admissions requirements, students applying to the Political and Social Justice Studies MA program must submit:

  • Official transcripts showing successful completion of a bachelor’s degree. Applicants will be expected to have a 2.75 cumulative G.P. A. (on a 4.0 scale) in their last sixty credits.
  • Submit a letter of application explaining a statement of personal interest in pursuing a master’s degree in the Political and Social Justice Studies program. This statement should be specific and include information about the applicant’s short- and long-term goals, and how enrolling in the program may help achieve them.
  • At least one confidential letter of recommendation from a professional reference (e.g. current or former college faculty member, current or former work supervisor, or community leader) speaking to the applicant’s interests and abilities relevant to the PSJS program.
  • Completed application must be submitted by June 1st for fall semester admission and November 1st for spring semester admission.

Students seeking admission to the Political and Social Justice Studies MA program with a GPA lower than 2.75, but have a strong personal interest in the program may petition to the graduate program admissions committee for admission. The admissions committee takes into consideration strong letters of recommendation from professional references that attest to the student’s abilities in writing and communication skills and concrete examples of the student’s leadership abilities.

An undergraduate major or minor in political science, or a major in one of the social sciences or humanities, including anthropology, economics, sociology, history, philosophy, international studies, black studies, or area studies is recommended. Students may be required to demonstrate competency for graduate work by satisfying the following undergraduate preparatory courses at Governors State University or another accredited university: Foundations of U.S. Democracy (POLS-2100 ) and a research methods course such as SOSC-4500 . These courses must be completed with a grade of “B” or better and are required in addition to the degree requirements listed below.

Transfer Credits

Providing that University policies regarding transfer of graduate credits are met, transfer credit will only be allowed for courses taken in a graduate social science or related graduate programs at accredited institutions. A limit of nine hours of transferable credits can be awarded for the Political and Social Justice Studies master’s degree program.

Admission to Candidacy

After admission as a degree-seeking student, a student also must apply for candidacy status before registering for final project, directed research, or practicum options. Application for candidacy should be made at the beginning of the term in which the student expects to fulfill the candidacy requirements. Application forms are available in the college office. To qualify for degree candidacy, a student must:

  1. complete all required courses and at least two elective courses with a grade of “B” or better; and
  2. maintain an overall grade point average of “B” or better.

More detailed candidacy information is available through the division office or the student’s advisor.

Degree Requirements

Students must meet all university requirements for a master’s degree.

Electives (15 Hours)

In consultation with an advisor, students select 5 courses from the list of elective courses. Electives are offered in two areas - Comparative & Global Politics and Social Justice. Students must select two courses from each area, with the fifth course selected from either of the two areas.

Final Project/ Directed Research & Analysis/ Problem-solving Practicum Options (6 Hours)

Students must be in Candidacy Status before registering for the final project, directed research, or practicum options. This requires completing all required courses and two elective courses with a grade of “B” or better, and having an overall grade point average of B or higher.

Select one of the following options:

Final Project Option (6 Hours)

A panel of three faculty members, including a PSJS-affiliated project director, must approve the final project. Students must also present their final project to invited faculty members in a public forum. It is required that the student enroll in PSJS - 8700 Graduate Research (1-4)  prior to registering for PSJS - 8990 Graduate Final Project (3)  to allow the student the requisite time to complete readings and research needed for a high-quality final project. The student is responsible for circulating paperwork for project approval, obtaining signatures of so all three faculty members approve prior to course registration.

Required courses for Final Project Option:

PSJS - 8700 Graduate Research (1-4)  - minimum credit hours required = 3

PSJS - 8990 Graduate Final Project (3)  


Directed Research and Analysis Option (6 Hours):

The directed research option requires each student to take two directed research courses covering distinct areas of study in Comparative & Global Politics or Social Justice. They are to successfully pass two comprehensive examinations for the selected areas with a grade of B or better. PSJS - 8981 Directed Research and Analysis I (3)  and PSJS - 8982 Directed Research and Analysis II (3)  must be taken in two differerent areas (one in Comparative & Global Politics, the other in Social Justice). Also two different faculty members should serve as the main readers for each, with at least two secondary faculty readers, one of whom must be a PSJS-affiliated faculty member.

Required courses for Directed Research and Analysis Option:

PSJS - 8981 Directed Research and Analysis I (3)  

PSJS - 8982 Directed Research and Analysis II (3)  


Problem-solving Practicum Option (6 Hours)

Students may select the practicum for six credit hours and complete 300 hours at an internship or practicum experience related to restorative-, social-, or community-justice and service initiatives. The analytical practicum paper applies student knowledge and skills in a culminating experience approved by the PSJS-affiliated faculty supervisor in consultation with two other faculty readers, at least one of whom must be PSJS-affiliated faculty.

Required courses for the Problem-solving Practicum Option:

PSJS - 8800 Practicum (1 - 3)  - minimum credit hours required = 3

PSJS - 8970 Practicum Project (3)  


Total Credit Hours - 39 Hours

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