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Gain real-world skills needed to take on an administrative role in any organization. Our students work full time, and we understand that earning your advanced degree is a big commitment. That's why we offer 100% online classes with eight areas of specialization.

Prepare to Lead and Manage Effectively

Ideal for early and mid-career professionals working in governmental agencies, nonprofit and social service organizations, health care and education—or any organization provides public services. Graduates of the program are prepared to lead and manage organizations; analyze, think critically, solve problems and make decisions; adequately consider the ethical and legal implications of their administrative decisions including personnel and budgeting, and communicate effectively with organizational members and stakeholders. Because we value your experience, we do not require an admissions GRE/GMAT entrance exam.

This cross-disciplinary, 36 credit hour program offers you both online flexibility and affordability. Requiring two years of professional experience, it is ideal for the early- and mid-career professionals and provides the primary skills necessary for leadership positions. Research and discuss topics relevant to you and customize your degree with eight specializations to choose from in the areas of organizational leadership, health services administration, long-term care administration, human resource management, nonprofit management, criminal justice studies and addiction studies and or design your own specialization (interdisciplinary studies).

You may choose two administration specializations.

The student can easily complete two specializations in the Master of Science in Administration program. He or she will complete 36 credit hours of required coursework in one area of specialization and complete the additional credit hours of coursework in another area to obtain two specializations. The diploma and transcript will indicate both specializations.

Degrees & Offerings

Administration: Organizational Leadership (M.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

Designed to enhance your leadership skills in a variety of organizational settings, this specialization focuses on contemporary theories of leadership to develop your own perspectives when leading an organization.

View Admissions Requirements

Administration: Health Services Administration (M.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

As business and social forces drive creative and revolutionary approaches to health care in the United States, the next generation of leaders will innovate in the planning, marketing and management of health care systems. The Health Services Administration specialization prepares you to lead in this dynamic and growing industry.

View Admissions Requirements

Administration: Human Resource Management (M.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

Human resources professionals are the leaders of leaders, those who shape an organization through the management of its most precious resource—its people. Learn how to effectively supervise personnel and implement innovations in human resource management.

View Admissions Requirements

Administration: Nonprofit Management (M.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

Every day, nonprofit organizations partner with government and businesses to solve our communities’ most pressing challenges, from affordable housing to food insecurity. Expand your skills in the nonprofit sector through courses in administration, fundraising, personnel management, grant-writing, team building and budgeting.

View Admissions Requirements

Administration: Criminal Justice Studies (M.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

As Americans reimagine the criminal justice system, from policing to sentencing and rehabilitation, communities seek leaders who will innovate as communities evolve and grow. Gain a master’s level education in criminal law, fundamentals of criminal procedures, police administration and criminal justice policy.

View Admissions Requirements

Administration: Addiction Studies (M.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 20 million Americans struggle with substance use disorder. The Addiction Studies specialization introduces you to the theoretical knowledge regarding the nature, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of alcohol and other addiction issues. The specialization prepares you for a variety of careers in the provision of care and intervention services in this important and growing area of health care.

View Admissions Requirements

Administration: Interdisciplinary Studies (M.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

Artificial intelligence management, data science, climate change resilience—these and other careers require ethical leaders who think creatively across fields of inquiry. The interdisciplinary studies specialization invites you to create the leadership training that fits your specific career goals. You will work closely with faculty advisors to craft a course of studies that is as innovative and groundbreaking as you are.

View Admissions Requirements

Concurrent Administration, Law (M.S./J.D.)

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

A student can concurrently pursue a M.S. in Administration and a Juris Doctor. Upon completion of the first year, you may take courses concurrently leading to both degrees and finish in three years.

View Admissions Requirements

Program Details





Graduate Admissions

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

An Affordable Education

Gain valuable real-world, professional experience while enjoying paid employment and discounted tuition rates as a graduate student at USD. The affordability you gain through graduate assistantships and fellowships will equip you with valuable, professional-level skills that will set you apart after graduation. 

Teaching and research assistantships are awarded by individual departments. If you do not receive an assistantship within your department, you are eligible for an assistantship outside of your academic program or within support offices (non-academic units) at USD. Further inquiries should be directed to the graduate director of the department.

Learn More

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Your Adventure Awaits

Do you have your sights set on Washington, D.C.? Italy? Turkey? New Zealand? Russia? The USD Department of Political Science can help you get there. Our students have participated in conferences and faculty-led courses around the world, and our Farber Fund helps make those experiences affordable.


Washington, D.C.

Politics & Policy Study Program
Learn how politics, policy and policy research interact through conversations with Hill staff and policymakers working off of the Hill in this faculty-led course. Many of these conversations will feature USD alumni now working in the city. The trip will also tour the D.C. monuments and experience “high” culture at the Kennedy Center and “low” culture with Nationals baseball. Regular spring semester meetings will prepare students to interact with D.C. policymakers and learn “the inside scoop” of the city, like how the Tortilla Coast led to a government shutdown.



Radicalism and Revolution - Irish Political History and the IRA
This faculty-led course combines an historical perspective with contemporary analysis of the political history of Ireland with a particular focus on the Irish War of Independence in the early 20th century, the “Troubles” of Northern Ireland in the 1970’s and 80’s, and the current iterations of the IRA and Real IRA.



Politics and Culture
You have the opportunity to travel to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia, for 10 days in a study program led by Tim Schorn, Ph.D. and Ilmira Dulyanova. You will study the politics, history and culture of Russia while visiting the Kremlin, Red Square, Gorky Park and more in Moscow, as well as the Hermitage, Peterhof and additional sights in Saint Petersburg. Our Farber Fund assists political science, criminal justice and international studies majors in making this faculty-led program even more affordable.



Travel through Northwestern and Central Turkey in cities including Instanbul, Gallipoli, Troy, Pergamon, Ephesus, Cappadocia and Ankara in the faculty-led course. Study Turkish politics and culture. Undergraduates and graduates come from several different majors, including English, criminal justice, political science and international studies.

At USD, our graduate students are actively pursuing unique research and presenting at local and national conferences exploring innovative areas of interest to them. Additional research and grant opportunities include:

Research and Creative Scholarship Opportunities

Each semester students may apply for grants through the USD Graduate School, faculty and students pursue research in virtually all academic departments on campus, and in many cases, it is a required portion of a graduate degree program.

Learn More


IdeaFest is an annual event celebrating student research, creative scholarship and academic engagement. Undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines present their work in oral and poster presentations, live performances, readings, exhibits and displays.

Learn More

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including several that are housed in the Department of Political Science. You may be interested in joining College Democrats, College Republicans or Students of Public Administration (SOPA) to make friends, develop new skills and explore your interests.

Explore Student Organizations

Graduate & Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Join your fellow graduate and professional students at USD. We aim to build a sense of community between graduate and professional students. Build your resume, network with others and gain experience and the unique opportunity to represent the interests of graduate students to the greater campus and community.

Join Now

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in political science.
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Political Science

Whether you are interested in a career in government and politics, law, the criminal justice system, international relations or a related field, the real-world experiences and connections you find in the Department of Political Science will help you get there.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know faculty and staff in the Department of Political Science. Our faculty are experts in their fields, contributing research and scholarship in American government, criminology, victimology, international human rights, gender politics, race/ethnicity in politics, comparative political economy, international law and more. They bring practical experience in government, law and the private sector to the classroom.
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Earnest

David Earnest

Chair, Political Science/Director of the Farber Center/Professor


International Political Economy
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jenna Borseth

Jenna Borseth

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Michael Card

Michael Card

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member April Carrillo

April Carrillo

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Ilmira Dulyanova

Ilmira Dulyanova

Director of Online Graduate Programs & Coordination
Bio Image for Faculty Member Matthew Fairholm

Matthew Fairholm

Coordinator-Graduate Programs, Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Edwin Gerrish

Edwin Gerrish

Coordinator-MPA, Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Julia Hellwege

Julia Hellwege

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Joshua Houy

Joshua Houy

Senior Lecturer
Bio Image for Faculty Member Eric Jepsen

Eric Jepsen

Coordinator-Undergraduate Studies, Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Sandy Mckeown

Sandy Mckeown

Coordinator-Criminal Justice
Bio Image for Faculty Member Thomas Mrozla

Thomas Mrozla

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Shane Nordyke

Shane Nordyke

Coordinator, Chieseman Center/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Timothy Schorn

Timothy Schorn

Coordinator-International Studies, Associate Professor
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Take Your Classes Online

We're committed to bringing our knowledge to you. USD serves the largest number of online students in the state of South Dakota. With competitive online tuition rates, we offer the same price whether you’re out-of-state or an in-state resident.


USD maintains a challenging and rigorous curriculum focused on preparing you to move forward in your career.


Enroll in an online class today! 


View all online programs
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Gain Real-World Experience

Each year, the Department of Political Science puts more than $175,000 of funding toward student internships, study abroad experiences, research and conference participation, and student organizations.

Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 
GA (Resident*)
Tuition (1 cr.)
GAF Fee (1 cr.)

More About Tuition & Fees

Tuition rates are subject to change and may vary depending on the program or department. Visit the Graduate Tuition & Costs page for more information.

* Graduate Assistant (GA) rates are available for resident, non-resident and online students.

** Resident rates may be available to you through the SD Advantage, Child of Alumni or Western Regional Graduate Program. To see if you quality, visit

Alum success story

Success story Jose R Duenes smiling.
I am proud of my education from USD! They challenged my views in a positive way and as a current director at a trauma responsive substance abuse and mental health clinic the M.S. in  Administration with Health Services Administration specialization was a perfect fit. All my instructors were knowledgeable and willing to work with me directly.

Jose R. Duenes

M.S. Administration, Health Services Administration
Director of Services, River Edge, LLC
Burnsville, Minnesota

Take the Next Step