Graduate Programs in American GovernmentBy Ann van der Merwe
Published June 4, 2012
If you are thinking of working for or with the American government, a graduate degree may serve you well. But which one is right for you? If you are more interested in a humanities-driven education than a professional program such as law or business, you might want to think about a master's in American government.
Coursework for an MA in government includes core classes in politics, economics, and research methods along with electives in these and other related disciplines. This enables students to learn about a variety of issues in the field of government, develop research and writing techniques, and prepare for a wide range of career paths in the public sector.
There is more to graduate study in government than knowledge, however. Preparation for work in government is also essential, and different institutions will approach this in various ways. At Regent University, for instance, students in the MA program are personally mentored. As 2008 graduate and current specialist for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency Amber Sells states, “the professors not only cared about my academic success, but also took time to get to know me… [and] the admissions, advising, and financial aid staff provided me with every tool I needed in graduate school and still maintain contact with me because they genuinely care.” Sells also values the way the program introduced her to professional standards in the field of government. “RSG events encouraged me to engage in a professional manner with fellow students, professors, and special guests,” she says.
Most importantly, though, Sells values the way Regent fostered the relationship between her faith, her studies, and her future career. The university offers graduate programs in government based on the Christian world view, and the faculty incorporates this view into all aspects of the curriculum. As Sells puts it, “My faith is more complete because I was able to integrate a biblical worldview with domestic and international political issues.”
If you are comparing MA programs in American government, you may want to think not only about the specific course requirements of each but also about how each could help you develop into the kind of person you want to be. You will likely be able to gain similar knowledge and techniques in any of them, but one might be more suited to your interests, learning style, beliefs, and goals than the others.
Ann van der Merwe is a singer and music historian based in southwest Ohio. She holds a B.M. in music performance and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in music history.