Undergraduate Program

Political Science at WashU

The study of political science can be an exceptional means for students to acquire a broad liberal education, and our faculty has a strong commitment to this objective. Undergraduates in the department are among the best and brightest in the nation, and they work with professors at the top of their fields. In addition, students find the major a useful preparation for a number of career options. 

Majors & Concentrations

The department offers two majors: Political Science and Environmental Policy. Political science majors may concentrate in a subfield of political science by taking (as part of their distribution requirement) three upper-level courses in any one of the five subfields (American politics, comparative politics, international politics, political methodology, or political theory) and submitting a subfield concentration form. Students may earn concentrations in up to two subfields. The successful completion of a subfield concentration will be listed on a student's transcript.

Course Offerings

Political science encompasses a number of sub-fields, and the department's course offerings reflect various dimensions of the study of politics.

American Politics

The field of American Politics includes the study of political behavior (electoral politics, public opinion, politics of interest groups), public policy analysis (economic policy, social welfare policy, urban public policy), and the study of governmental institutions (the Presidency, Congress, judicial process and public law, the politics of bureaucracies).

Comparative Politics

Courses in Comparative Politics include the study of various political phenomena from a comparative perspective (revolution and political violence, political elites, political modernization and development, comparative public policy), and the study of government and politics in particular geographical areas (Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Western Europe).

International Politics

Courses in International Politics include the study of international development, international political economy, national security and defense policy, nuclear weapons and arms control, terrorism and guerrilla warfare in international perspective, international organizations, bargaining and negotiation.

Political and Social Theory

Political and Social Theory involves the study of various political, empirical, and conceptual aspects of the ways in which we seek to understand the political world. It includes courses in the history of political thought, modern ideologies, and contemporary political philosophy, political psychology, and political sociology.

Formal and Mathematical Approaches

The department offers a number of courses in Formal and Mathematical Approaches to the study of politics. There is also among the faculty a variety of intellectual styles and approaches to the discipline and a considerable willingness to adapt the curriculum to meet the developing interests of students, either with new courses or through independent study.

Program Highlights

Senior Thesis Program

Writing a senior thesis provides a wonderful opportunity for political science majors to do independent social science research. It also provides a "capstone" experience for the major. The program involves independent work by the student, guided by a faculty advisor, and enrollment in a senior thesis seminar during the fall and spring semesters of a student's senior year.

details & eligibility

Undergraduate Awards

The department offers several awards in recognition of special scholarly achievement by undergraduate students. These awards are made each spring, prior to graduation. Each of the awards carries a cash prize.

awards & nomination

Careers & Outcomes

Find information on how a major or minor in political science can help your future plans.

Careers

Internships

Many students obtain credit toward graduation for internships in political and community organizations such as American Civil Liberties Union, Board of Probation and Parole, community organizations, and public and private bureaucracies. A student may be able to obtain general credit toward graduation for such internships. Students should consult the undergraduate Bulletin and contact the Career Center for internship guidelines before they intern. Registration in an internship for credit shall be conditional on satisfactory completion of the (Learning Agreement Form) provided by the Career Center. University rules specify that internship credit cannot exceed 3 credit hours per semester and cannot count toward the major. Such credit is awarded through the Career Center as General Studies credit.

Students who want to obtain graded credit toward the major in conjunction with their internship must obtain a faculty sponsor for an independent study (Directed Research L32 413). The independent study project must be preapproved by the faculty sponsor, who is responsible for supervising and evaluating the independent research project. For more information on earning academic credit for internships, please see Sarah Winkler in Seigle 207.

Related Programs

Legal Studies

Students interested in political science may choose to pursue a minor in Legal Studies, an interdisciplinary academic program about law rather than vocational training in law. 


Murray Weidenbaum Center Scholars Program

Sponsored by the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy, this program provides undergraduates a unique, rewarding, and life altering chance to learn and work under the guidance and mentoring of world-class academic experts. 

 

Have questions?

We're here to help! Feel free to reach out via the departmental contact form. 

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