Political Science Program

The Political Science Degree

Political Science embraces the study of political ideas, institutions, and behavior. Politics and government affect nearly every facet of our lives, from the quality of the air we breathe to the decision to take the nation to war. An understanding of politics is essential to an understanding of the world we live in.

The academic study of politics dates to the earliest times. Aristotle called politics “the queen of the sciences” because it addresses the fundamental question of how people can live together peacefully and productively. Traditionally, in the United States, the discipline has been divided into five sub-fields: political theory, American government, comparative politics, international relations, and public law. More recently, political science has expanded to include areas such as media & political communication, interest group behavior, and the politics of gender, race, and sexual orientation.

As a liberal arts major, a main goal of the political science program is to produce citizens who can evaluate information accurately, reason carefully, think critically, and communicate effectively. In addition to allowing students to become more effective in their daily lives, these are skills that will pay off in any career. In a world where many of today’s students will wind up in a job that does not yet exist, such “transferrable skills” give the flexibility needed to adapt to a changing job environment.

Though the political science major can lead to many careers, and political science graduates are employed throughout private industry, political science majors tend to gravitate toward jobs in state, local and federal government; public affairs and administration; law; planning; non-profit administration, and related fields. For more information on careers in political science, visit the American Political Science Association’s Outside Linkguide to careers in political science.

The Political Science Major

There are five required courses in the major.  Three courses (POL202, 203 & 204) introduce students to major areas of politics. (American Government, International Relations, and Political Theory). In addition, the major requires one course in research and writing in political science (POL308) and one in empirical methods (POL300). Thereafter, political science majors choose six upper-level courses from a wide variety of departmental offerings. This flexibility allows students to concentrate their studies in one sub-field or sample more broadly from a number of areas.


The design of the Political Science Major makes it relatively simple to double-major in one of several related fields

Public Administration: Political Science courses that count toward the Public Administration major include: POL202, POL 300, POL301, POL327 or 328, POL331, and POL355.

INGOS Minor or certificate:  Political Science Courses that count toward the INGOS minor or certificate are POL203 and POL345.

Justice Studies: Political Science Courses that count toward the Justice Studies Major or minor include POL202, POL300, POL315, POL327 or 328, POL331, POL332, POL335

Page last updated: September 29, 2015