Political Science Major (B.A.)
The study of government and politics, to which the courses and seminars of the Department of Political Science are devoted, includes the development of knowledge of political behavior by individuals and groups as well as knowledge about governments: their nature and functions, their problems and behavior, and their interactions—at the national and international levels and at the local, state and regional levels.
Much of the learning offered by the Department of Political Science also can be regarded as essential for good citizenship, since political knowledge helps to explain the formal and informal institutions by which we are governed and the forces that lead to policy decisions, and also seeks to clarify the issues and principles that encourage people toward political involvement. It contributes to the store of knowledge necessary for informed citizenship. In addition, such learning is especially valuable to students planning to enter local or national government or other public service, including the Foreign Service, and it will be of great help to those who intend to study law and enter the legal profession. For teaching, particularly at the college level, and for many types of government service, graduate work may be indispensable. An undergraduate major in political science will provide a helpful foundation for any further study of politics and related fields in the social sciences and humanities. Such an emphasis also will be valuable for students seeking careers in journalism, international organizations, and the public affairs and administrative aspects of labor, financial and business organizations.
The major program in political science consists of at least 10 courses (40 credits) and not more than 12 courses (48 credits). The minimum grade requirement is C- per course. Any grade lower will not count toward major. The required minimum overall GPA for major coursework is 2.0.
|Major Program Requirements 1|
|POLT 401||Politics and Society||4|
|POLT 402||American Politics and Government||4|
|POLT 403||United States in World Affairs||4|
|Six 500-level courses (select at least one from each of the four subfields listed below)||24|
Subfield: American Politics
|American Public Policy|
|State and Local Government|
|Parties, Interest Groups, and Voters|
|Politics of Crime and Justice|
|Supreme Court and the Constitution|
|Managing Bureaucracy in America|
|Media and Politics|
|Public Opinion in American Politics|
|Civil Rights and Liberties|
|Selected Topics Am Politics|
|Selected Topics in Political Thought|
Subfield: Political Thought
|Politics, Justice, and Morality|
|Rights and the Political Community|
|American Political Thought|
|Politics and Literature|
|Politics and Literature|
Subfield: Comparative Politics
|Of Dictators and Democrats|
|People and Politics in Asia|
|Wealth and Politics in Asia|
|The Politics of Markets|
|Comparative Government and Society|
|Contemporary European Politics|
|Revolution and Protest in Latin America|
|Politics in China|
|Government and Politics of Canada|
|Comparative Politics of the Middle East|
|Selected Topics in Comparative Politics|
Subfield: International Politics
|Introduction to International Political Economy|
|Strategy and National Security Policy|
|The Global Information Grid's Disruptive Impact on Government, Politics, and Society|
|United States Policy in Latin America|
|The Rise of China|
|Counterterrorism: Nation states' responses to terrorist activity|
|Selected Topics in International Politics|
|Discovery Program Capstone||4|
Select one 700-level POLT course
ECON 402 Principles of Economics (Micro) or ECON 605 Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis and ECON 401 Principles of Economics (Macro) or ECON 611 Intermediate Macroeconomic Analysis may also be used to fulfill the fifth or sixth elective in this sequence. Additional economics courses will be considered by petition. Only one economics course can count toward this requirement. If students substitute an economics course for a POLT 500-level course, the economics course cannot be used to satisfy Discovery Program category requirements.
Candidates for a degree must satisfy all of the University Discovery Program requirements in addition to satisfying the requirements of each individual major program. Bachelor of arts candidates must also satisfy the foreign language proficiency requirement.
Political Science majors may use one major-required course to satisfy one Discovery category requirement.
- Knowledge base: a proficient knowledge base of four subfields of Political Science including American Government, Political Theory, Comparative Politics, and International Relations. Areas of strength include the study of public opinion, comparative politics and international relations, political economy, environmental politics, Latin American politics, Middle Eastern politics, and Asian politics. In this regard, the program fosters the development of a strong empirical foundation through multiple levels of courses. Majors are required to complete each of the following: POLT 401 Politics and Society, POLT 402 American Politics and Government and POLT 403 United States in World Affairs.
- Research Skills: A second goal is to advance the students’ abilities to understand and use basic political science research skills. These include computer literacy, knowledge of credible sources of information, basic statistical applications, and support for foreign language proficiency. We also strive to help students identify interesting and important research questions clearly and concisely, gather and assess various types of information, and come to well-reasoned conclusions.
- Critical Thinking: The third objective involves enhancement of student cognitive abilities, and critical thinking. We hone the ability to analyze, assess, and reconstruct findings in written, oral, and graphical form. We strive to promote students who are self-disciplined thinkers who understand the rigorous standards of research, are intelligent consumers of political information, and are able to understand multiple perspectives and interpretations.
- Communication Skills: Another aim is to enhance the written and oral communication skills of our students. We support the goals of the writing intensive requirement and expose students to different genres and conventions in academic writing. Most 500 and 700-level courses emphasize cultivating strong writing and reading skills, while at the 700-level, student engagement in sustained discussion becomes the centerpiece of instruction in many seminars. Writing instruction includes emphasis not only on research papers but on short analytical essays, précis, and reviews that ask students to synthesize complex information, develop arguments, and delve more deeply into interpretation. In some courses, part of this work includes iterated practice of grammar and stylistic choices through revision and proposal assignments.
- Professional Socialization and Support for Post-Graduate Training and Placement: The sixth aim of the program is to give students the requisite skills, preparation and knowledge base to become capable and responsible political actors in their chosen professional careers and future goals. We expect our students to be exposed to the ethics and organizational culture of political science specifically and the social sciences generally. We aim to provide a foundation of professionalism for students who enter both the private and public sectors upon graduation and for those who continue their studies beyond the B.A.
- Inspire Curiosity and Enthusiasm for Inquiry: A final goal is to foster a spirit of inquiry. Faculty in the Department hope to stimulate curiosity about the political world and inspire life-long learners who are engaged in the political process at the local, national and global levels.