College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Political Science Department

The Political Science Department’s commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching has yielded an enviable number of graduates successful in law, government, education, communications, and business. The major in Political Science is designed to provide a knowledge of the nature of politics and government on the local, state, national, and international levels and of the functions and theories of the state. The courses enable the student to develop an understanding of the political process and an ability to analyze political systems, relationships, and problems. The major affords excellent preparation for graduate education, law school, public administration, public service, social science teaching and, most importantly, intelligent citizenship.

The Department of Political Science provides a full complement of core courses, and offers its students practica, qualitative and quantitative research methods courses, participation in Model International Organization programs and individualized research opportunities. Opportunities to spend a semester or a summer in Washington, D.C. under the auspices of the Washington Center Internship Program while earning academic credit are also available. Also, arrangements may be made to earn academic credit from universities around the world through study-abroad programs.

The introductory courses for majors strengthen the freshmen experience and create common bonds among students. Core offerings in American Politics and International Relations have been augmented by others on the comparative politics of countries ranging from Europe to Asia to Latin America.

The department also offers specialized courses related to electoral politics, survey research, international political economy, media and political communication, and public policy analysis that are of interest to students in a variety of majors across the university.

In addition to traditional courses in political thought, recent course offerings have included work in feminist political theory, current theoretical conflicts in constitutional interpretation, and Islamic political thought.

Career Opportunities

Many Political Science majors pursue careers in public affairs on the staffs of elected officials, government agencies, public interest groups, or corporate public affairs departments. Journalism, broadcasting, public relations and other communications-related professions have also been of interest to majors. The major also provides good training and skills for other business applications.

As part of the required Practicum, over the years, student majors have pursued internships involving all of these areas. The Department of Political Science receives notice of many significant internship opportunities in governmental and non-governmental settings, often from Department alumni who increasingly hold positions of note and are helpful in facilitating these opportunities. Many majors have also worked on political campaigns and in some instances, have even run for office themselves.

Because many Political Science majors are interested in pursuing careers in the legal field, the Department offers several course opportunities in the legal-political area. In appropriate instances, this may include a practicum course that provides exposure to legal practice. Political Science majors may also elect the interdisciplinary legal studies minor; however, political science courses utilized for the minor may not also be credited to the major, and the number of political science courses taken for the major and minor together may not exceed 45 credits within the minimum 120 credits required for graduation.