Political Science Major

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science

The major requires a minimum of 36 credit hours (9 courses).

Required Core Courses
1. PSCI 101 The American Political System4
2. PSCI 103 International Relations 4
3. PSCI 105 Comparative Politics4
4. PSCI 106 Political Theory4
Elective Courses
5-7. Any three PSCI courses at 200-level and above in which at least one of them must be 300-level. Internship or independent study may replace one of three PSCI courses.12
Required Capstone Preparation
8. PSCI 455 Designing Political Research4
Required Capstone Experience4
Select one of the following:
9. PSCI 465 Senior Independent Study OR
PSCI 470 Senior Thesis OR
PSCI 490 Departmental Honors
Total Credits36

Senior Capstone in Political Science. A 3-week seminar (PSCI 455) required of all Political Science majors taken during the fall of their senior year in preparation for their Senior Independent Project, Senior Thesis, or Honors Thesis. In this seminar, student will discuss topics in Political Science and identify potential senior research project. Students will present proposals for their senior capstone at the end of the seminar. Students take their Senior Independent Project (PSCI 465) during the spring of their senior year in which they will develop their skills in research and oral and written communication as related to Political Science. The course includes presentations and discussions by students and guest lecturers, field trips, and a community service project.  PSCI 470 (Senior Thesis) or PSCI 490 (Departmental Honors) can replace PSCI 465. 

Total credit hours required for A.B. degree in political science is 36 credits

It is recommended that all core courses – PSCI 101, PSCI 103, PSCI 105, and PSCI 106 – be completed before taking upper-level elective courses. It is required that majors complete all core courses prior to taking PSCI 455,  and PSCI 455 must be taken before PSCI 465. Of the 9 elective credits, at least 1 must be from 300-level courses or above, 1 of which can be Internship or Independent Studies.

Majors may want to focus their elective credits in an area of particular interest in order to provide more in-depth knowledge of one of the particular sub-disciplines of political science: American politics/public policy and administration; international relations; comparative politics or political theory/political analysis. The core courses serve as a foundation for upper-level courses within each of the four tracks.


Areas of Study

American Politics/Public Policy and Administration

This track focuses on governmental and policy dynamics and debates within the United States. Students are exposed to the organization and behavior of the institutions, groups and participants in the American political arena. Students in this track investigate various public policies and political behaviors from a broad array of governmental and nongovernmental institutions. Study in this track equips students for graduate studies in American politics and public policy and provides a foundation for careers in American government, teaching or other public policy sectors.

Recommended Elective Courses
PSCI 204Public Policy and Administration4
PSCI 225The American Presidency4
PSCI 265Terrorism in America4
PSCI 305Politics of Gender4
PSCI 317The American Founding4
PSCI 318Environmentalism in Early America4
PSCI 319Modern Environmental Problems4
PSCI 335America and the World4
PSCI 355Constitutional Law and Civil Rights4
PSCI 389Homeland Security Policy4

International Relations

International relations focus on the manner in which states and other actors interact in the global arena. The track exposes students to a wide variety of methods-approaches, and substantive concerns. This track equips students for graduate studies in international affairs and provides a foundation for careers in international business, diplomacy or other public policy sectors. Students interested in this track may also double-major in international studies or complete a minor in African, East Asian or Latin American studies. Language courses are essential in this regard and thus are strongly encouraged.

Recommended Elective Courses
PSCI 266Global Terrorism4
PSCI 275Asia and the World4
PSCI 316China and the World4
PSCI 330Global Power and Wealth4
PSCI 345Avoiding War, Making Peace4
PSCI 350Special Topics1-8
PSCI 391Globalization and Its Discontents4

Comparative Politics

The goal of comparative politics is to equip students with the concepts and methods of research necessary for understanding the enormity of contemporary political, economic and social changes, and to elucidate their significance. Students will apply practical research methods to examine policy processes and outcomes in different nations – in areas such as industry, education, health care, housing and social security. Other issues covered within the comparative politics track include political and economic development, the relationship between economic development and democratization, reform and revolution. Students interested in this track may also double major in international studies or complete a relevant minor. Language courses are essential in this regard and thus are strongly encouraged.

Recommended Elective Courses
PSCI 201Comparing Countries4
PSCI 206Challenges of Global Democratization (PECS 206)4
PSCI 210East Asian Politics4
PSCI 222African Government and Politics4
PSCI 315Chinese Politics4
PSCI 350Special Topics1-8

Political Theory/Political Analysis

 Political theory challenges students to confront the full history of political thought in order to sharpen and focus their analytical skills and to develop for themselves standards of judgment through which they can assess the relative merits of political systems and public policies. To this end, students in this track pursue coursework and independent study in the following areas: the history of political ideas (such as freedom, obligation, justice, power and democracy); interpretation of political texts; and normative approaches to persistent political issues and problems. This track equips students for graduate study in political science and law as well as for various careers in community service and public policy.

Recommended Elective Courses
PSCI 240American Political Thought4
PSCI 305Politics of Gender4
PSCI 364Race, Ethnicity and Politics4
PSCI 367Violence and Politics4