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Department of Political Science
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Political Science

fireworksPolitical Science is a discipline that focuses on the nature of “power” – whether this power is held by an individual or a group, elected officials or monarchs, government agencies or protestors.

Political Science inquiry critically examines the structures and functions of governments, elections, political parties, interest groups, social movements and more. Political Scientists study both the process of politics and public policies enacted by governments; they compare across the world, and look at the same questions in the smallest hamlet.

While modern Political Science is only about 100 years old, philosophers and academics have studied these questions for millennia. Plato, arguably, was the “first” Political Scientist when he pondered the nature of justice almost 5,000 years ago.

Contemporary Political Science in the United States is divided into several subfields: Political Theory, Comparative Politics, International Relations, American Government and Politics, Public Policy and Public Administration, and Public Law.

Political Science is grounded in the study of the traditional liberal arts. The traditional liberal arts are not focused on preparing individuals for a particular profession, but focus preparing students to think critically, to express themselves effectively orally and in writing, to examine their own lives in terms of their own ethical principles and contribute meaningfully to society as citizens.

Undergraduate study of Political Science is excellent preparation for careers in education, government service, campaigns, lobbying, journalism, foreign service, military service, law, labor unions, business and industry. The Political Science degree is also excellent preparation for advanced study in law, international affairs, international relations, public administration, public policy, public affairs, urban affairs, and more. 

The Political Science department is currently accepting applications for the Joe B. Lanford Scholarship, the William J. Blough Undergraduate Essay Contest, and the Mary Jeanne Byrd Award. If you have any questions, contact Elizabeth Oswald, the departmental program assistant, at or 803/323-2209.