The study of politics traditionally examines social and political behaviors (i.e., politics), the varied contexts in which they occur (i.e., governments), and the ideas and ideals which motivate persons in public life (i.e., political thought). The department believes that this study cannot be reduced to any single theory or method; consequently, diverse interests and approaches characterize its academic life. Current faculty interests incline toward the study of institutions, law, political development, and theory.
Departmental requirements encourage students to develop a sophisticated understanding of the structure and operation of one or more political systems and the questions of justice and equity presented therein. Majors are strongly encouraged to pursue a diverse course of study, combining depth in political science with breadth in the rest of the liberal arts. In addition, majors are urged to take full advantage of internship, foreign and domestic exchange, the Five College Interchange, and service learning opportunities.
The Department of Political Science requires its majors to complete a minimum of eleven three-credit courses in political science and the one-credit junior year writing requirement. These courses include at least two 100-level political science courses; one course in each of the subfi elds of American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory, all at the 200 level or above; and additional upper-level courses to bring the course total to eleven. At least six of the eleven courses must be taken within the department.
Political Science students may choose to focus their major toward graduate and professional studies or career choices. For example, American political management focuses on the growing field of campaign management, lobbying, community organizing, public affairs consulting, or legislative service. Global political studies include foreign and security policy, political economy, democratic reform, war and conflict, and new social movements. Social science education is designed for majors who wish to prepare for certification as a secondary school social studies teacher, and the option fulfills (along with other courses) Commonwealth of Massachusetts requirements. A focus on law may be of interest to students who consider themselves pre-law or wish to prepare for the criminal justice or paralegal professions.
Political science students may pursue secondary education certification in conjunction with the major. See the Guide to Undergraduate Programs for more information.
A minor in political science is available.
Many programs complement the political science major quite well. These include the Five College international relations certificate, area studies certificates in Russian and Eastern Europe, the Near East, Latin America, and Asia, and the minor in modern European studies.
Contact the departmental honors coordinator for information on how to pursue honors opportunities within the major.
Internships and Study Abroad
Several types of internships are available to political science majors, including positions with government institutions at all levels, non-profit advocacy groups, research organizations, and other agencies with public service functions (including law offices). These are designed to enable students to earn graduation credits while gaining work experience. More information about internships is available from the department’s internship coordinator.
Numerous opportunities are available for study at other institutions, including members of the local Five College Consortium, North American colleges and universities participating in the National Student Exchange, and a variety of foreign universities. The department has a special undergraduate student exchange with the Department of Politics at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. Go to the International Programs Office for details.
A major in political science is valuable preparation for a wide variety of career fields and further academic pursuits. These include law; business and corporate positions in environmental protection, consumer affairs, and public affairs; journalism; federal and state government employment in such areas as environmental protection, criminal justice, public health and welfare, and transportation; local management and general administration in planning, zoning, housing, human resource management, law enforcement, and budgeting and finance; secondary-level teaching of social studies; positions with nonprofit research and advocacy organizations; management of domestic or international grass-roots development or refugee assistance organizations; educational administration; and university-level teaching.
Department of Political Science
218 Thompson Hall
Undergraduate Academic Advisor: Barb Ciesluk, 210 Thompson Hall, 413.545.2695