a group of students in mercyhurst's center for applied politics

Political Science

Bachelor of Arts

Shaping future political leaders.

When you think of politics, what comes to mind? Elections? The President? Political parties? Politics is complex. While government is part of politics, it鈥檚 not the only aspect. And, becoming a politician is not your only option. As a political science major, you鈥檒l study political theory, comparative politics, public administration, international relations, public law and political methodology. In addition, you鈥檒l also have the option of earning a concentration in one of several subfields of the discipline including international relations, pre-law, applied politics, or environmental studies and politics. Majoring in political science can lead you to a career in law, international diplomacy, teaching, journalism, business, and many other exciting fields.

Fast Facts

  • The Department of Political Science offers programs of study that lead to Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science, Political Science with a concentration in International Relations, and Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law, and that lead to minors in Political Science, International Relations and Diplomacy, and Public Policy.
  • Each spring, two dozen political science majors travel to Washington, D.C. to tour the Capitol, visit historic landmarks and museums, and speak with admissions counselors from DC-area graduate and law schools.
  • Students can join Pi Sigma Alpha, a political science honor society with more than 700 chapters across the country. During election years, members have been known to organize formal political debates.
  • The 六合彩开奖记录t Center for Applied Politics has earned a national reputation for the skill and professionalism of our Political Science students, as they collect and analyze political data and provide unbiased assessments of public opinion.
Concentrations

    The concentration in international relations emphasizes international politics and regional political systems in an era of globalization. The study of international relations affords students an appreciation of diverse views; an enhanced understanding of world events, political actors, and the conditions that influence political events; as well as a tolerance for different cultures, beliefs, and societies. The Political Science Department鈥檚 innovative curriculum is enhanced with versatile study abroad opportunities and a competitive Model International Organizations program focused on diplomacy and global problem solving.

    As evidenced by the success of our alumni, students who select the international relations concentration are preparing for a variety of careers, including diplomacy, academia, journalism, public service, or work with the vast array of non-governmental organizations engaged in advocacy and service around the world. Students who choose this program of study are well situated for advancement in a range of careers.

    Topics of Study:

    • American Government and/or Global Issues
    • Geopolitics
    • International Organization and Diplomacy
    • Political Science Project
    • Research Methods in Social Science
    • Vietnam War
    • Comparative Politics: Asia
    • Comparative Politics: Europe
    • Politics of Russia
    • War and World Politics
    • Politics of the Global Economy
    • Political Theory
    • Any foreign language through the second level

    Majoring in political science is great preparation for law school. In fact, political science is still the most common major for students currently enrolled in U.S. law schools. The Department of Political Science at 六合彩开奖记录t University takes great pride in its pre-law curriculum, which incorporates political science, sociology, psychology and philosophy courses.

    Political science students have the opportunity to complete nearly a dozen different courses related to legal theory and practice, while also completing internships with a wide variety of organizations and law firms. Required and elective courses are chosen with the help of the student's advisor, who customizes a curriculum that fits the student's interests and professional goals.

    Topics of Study

    Most students who declare a pre-law concentration have the opportunity to take a wide range of courses related to law, including:

    • Constitutional Law
    • Civil Liberties
    • Psychology and the Law
    • Environmental Law
    • Business Law
    • Legal Research and Writing
    • Sociology of the Law
    • Introduction to Logic
    • Philosophy of the Law


    Law Schools Attended by Poli Sci Students

    The political science department has an extremely high placement rate of students in law schools. Our graduates have been placed in more than 20 law schools across the country. Below is a complete list of law schools attended by our alumni between 1993 and 2015:

    • Boston College Law School
    • Buffalo State University School of Law
    • Case Western Reserve University School of Law
    • Cleveland State (Cleveland Marshall College of Law)
    • DePaul University College of Law
    • Duquesne University Law School
    • Florida Coastal School of Law
    • Hofstra Law School
    • Indiana University Maurer School of Law
    • Michigan State University College of Law
    • Ohio Northern University College of Law
    • Penn State University-Dickinson School of Law
    • Syracuse University School of Law
    • Thomas M. Cooley Law School (Michigan)
    • University of Akron School of Law
    • University of Baltimore School of Law
    • University of California-Davis School of Law
    • University of Dayton School of Law
    • University of Maine School of Law
    • University of Miami (FL) School of Law
    • University of Michigan Law School
    • University of Missouri School of Law
    • University of Pittsburgh School of Law
    • University of Toledo College of Law
    • Valparaiso University Law School
    • West Virginia University College of Law
    • Widener University School of Law
Minors

    The International Relations and Diplomacy Minor emphasizes international politics and regional political systems in an era of globalization. The study of international relations affords students an appreciation of diverse views; an enhanced understanding of world events, political actors, and the conditions that influence political events; as well as a tolerance for different cultures, beliefs, and societies. The Political Science Department鈥檚 innovative curriculum is enhanced with versatile study abroad opportunities and a competitive Model International Organizations program focused on diplomacy and global problem solving.

    As evidenced by the success of our alumni, students who select the international relations and diplomacy minor are preparing for a variety of careers, including diplomacy, academia, journalism, public service, or work in the vast array of non-governmental organizations engaged in advocacy and service around the world. Students who choose to minor in international relations and diplomacy are well situated for advancement in a range of careers. Whether students are majoring in World Languages and Cultures, Religious Studies, Business Administration, History, Intelligence Studies, or something else, the international relations and diplomacy minor compliments and enhances their program of study.

    Topics of Study

    • Global Issues
    • International Organizations and Diplomacy
    • Comparative Politics: Asia
    • Comparative Politics: Europe
    • Geopolitics
    • Politics of Russia
    • American Foreign Policy
    • The Vietnam War
    • Intelligence and National Security
    • Politics of the Global Economy
    • Research Methods in Social Science

    The Political Science minor is designed to provide students with the flexibility they need to schedule only those classes that interest them the most. The minor requires a total of eight courses, and the only required course is American Government OR Global Issues. Students, with the help of their advisor, choose six additional political science courses that best meet their individual interests and professional goals. Students may choose to take a broad spectrum of courses that fit their schedules (a 鈥渘on-thematic minor鈥), or they may concentrate on a single area of interest (a 鈥渢hematic minor鈥). Popular thematic minors include International Politics, Law and Political Theory, Environmental Politics, and American Politics.

    Once you have decided to add a political science minor, you will choose a faculty member in the department to serve as your advisor. The political science department is committed to working closely with students, so each semester faculty advisors help students to choose courses, map out their academic career at 六合彩开奖记录t, and explore and prepare for post-graduate options such as law school, graduate school, and various political science-related careers. Rather than a sophomore review, each spring faculty advisors meet with students to ensure they are progressing toward graduation.

    Because political science courses focus on developing students鈥 writing, critical thinking, and analytical skills, a political science minor compliments a wide range of majors. Students majoring in intelligence studies, history, English, communication, and criminal justice have all chosen to minor in political science, but so too have students in dance, business, psychology, and education. The political science minor鈥檚 flexible curriculum makes it easy to complete regardless of a student鈥檚 major area of study.

    Topics of Study

    • Non-Thematic Minor
      • American Government or Global Issues, Politics of Russia, Leadership, Political Theory, Geopolitics, Civil Liberties, Comparative Politics: Asia, American Political Thought, and Politics of the Global Economy.
    • International Relations
      • American Government or Global Issues, Comparative Politics: Europe, American Foreign Policy, International Relations, Geopolitics, Politics of the Global Economy, World Politics, Intelligence and National Security.
    • Law and Political Theory
      • American Government or Global Issues, Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties, Environmental Law, Legal Research and Writing, Political Theory, American Political Thought, American Legal Process.
    • American Politics
      • American Government or Global Issues, American Presidency, American Congress, Political Parties and Interest Groups, State and Local Politics, Public Administration, Seminar: Debating Democracy.
    • Environmental Politics
      • American Government or Global Issues, Environmental Politics, Environmental Philosophy, Environmental Law, Environmental History of the US, Contemporary Environmental Issues, Religion and the Environment, Politics of the Global Economy.
    • BADM 310: BUSINESS LAW I (1 credit)
    • CRJS 310: CONSTITUTIONAL LAW IN CRIMINAL PROCEDURE (3 credits)听

    OR

    • CRJS 322: LEGAL RESEARCH & WRITING (3 credits)听
    • POLI 422: CIVIL LIBERTIES (3 credits)听

    Students work with a pre-law advisor to choose an additional three courses. The additional courses must cover some core skill or value listed above, or must be relevant to some topical area dealt with in law school. The philosophy behind the minor is to allow students flexibility in choice, while providing them with relevant and beneficial curriculum choices.

    An approved law-related internship is highly recommended, and can also be used to fulfill one of the two additional course requirements. 听POLI 100: American Government (3 credits) is strongly recommended.

    No more than two courses in the minor can be used to count for the major and/or core.

    This minor is designed for students of all majors who have an interest in public policy and/or administration. The minor is housed in the Political Science Department, but allows for utilization of some cognate courses from other departments, depending on the student鈥檚 interests, major(s), and university REACH course selections. The Public Policy Minor is perfect for students who are majoring in a field other than political science, but aspire to shape public policy as it relates to their chosen field of study. Students from the natural sciences, arts, humanities, and the social/behavioral science find the public policy minor to be a nice addition to their credentials that prepares them for graduate study or careers in a wide array of professions.

    Topics of Study

    • Public Administration
    • Public Policy Analysis and Impact
    • Economics
    • Domestic and/or International Political Processes
    • Research Methods

B.A. in Political Science

The political science major, which leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree, is designed to provide a sound basis for both graduate studies and professional success in government service, law, teaching, applied politics, journalism, foreign service, and many other fields. In fact, 六合彩开奖记录t鈥檚 Political Science Department has a long record of producing some of the most accomplished and award-winning students at the university.

The Department of Political Science offers programs of study that lead Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science, Political Science with a concentration in International Relations, and Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law; and that lead to minors in Political Science, International Relations and Diplomacy, and Public Policy. Courses leading to a major and minor are taught by an award winning faculty that is dedicated to undergraduate instruction. This instruction focuses on providing students with an understanding of the content and methods of the discipline, and on developing students鈥 research, writing, and critical thinking skills. This is accomplished by means of innovative assignments and classroom instruction

The political science major provides students with a number of extracurricular opportunities directly related to the major, and unrivaled access to faculty members who are dedicated to helping students achieve their academic and professional goals.

Students who wish to pursue a career in a field related to political science may choose to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation or earn a graduate degree in political science, public administration, public policy, law, or a related field. Since 1993, the placement rate for political science majors at 六合彩开奖记录t who apply to graduate or law school is nearly 100%. Graduates of the program who pursue careers not directly related to political science have also found success. Today, graduates of the program are working in the fields of banking, real estate, energy, education, environmental protection, and others. Other students have chosen to pursue service opportunities, such as with AmeriCorps, upon graduation.

The 六合彩开奖记录t Center for Applied Politics (MCAP)

    The 六合彩开奖记录t Center for Applied Politics (MCAP) began operations in July 2010. Inspired by the mission of 六合彩开奖记录t University and guided by the college鈥檚 core values, the center promotes reasoned discourse about problems facing communities, states and nations. It accomplishes this objective by providing elected officials, government agencies, news organizations, and nonprofits with accurate and unbiased assessments of public opinion; and offering a nonpartisan forum for public debates and roundtable discussions that address pressing public problems.

    The centerpiece of MCAP is the state of the art computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) facility. The facility, which is located in the Center for Academic Engagement, is comprised of thirty one interviewer stations and staffed by well-trained research associates. The specialized computer software used to conduct telephone interviews generates random telephone numbers in a predefined geographic area and allows research associates to accurately complete even the most complex interviews.

    When operating at capacity, the facility generates 40 ten minute interviews per hour. This means that the center can generate interviews for a sample of 400 residents of a particular community in only ten hours. In other words, in just ten hours the center can report, with 95% confidence, what percentage of residents (plus or minus 5%) favor or oppose a particular position or policy. In just a few additional hours, the center can produce even more accurate results.

    The center also has the ability to design and administer online surveys. This method of interviewing is ideal for organizations that have relatively up-to-date email addresses for their members. The software used by MCAP allows a researcher to administer a survey - whether short and simple or long and complex 鈥 to an unlimited number of email addresses. In addition, a researcher has the ability to monitor response rates and send out reminders, thereby ensuring that the study produces high quality results.

    As the Northwestern Pennsylvania鈥檚 only CATI facility whose primary purpose is to regularly and accurately gauge public opinion, the MCAP is an invaluable resource community leaders. Each year the center conducts polls on issues of local, state and nations interest. The results of these studies are made available to the public via the university鈥檚 webpage. In addition to its annual polls, the center offers its services to private parties, nonprofits, news organizations, and government agencies for minimal cost.

    Each year more than one hundred students with a wide range of majors help MCAP to conduct public opinion polls. The vast majority of these students are volunteers who want to serve their community and enjoy the comradery that polling creates among interviewers. In fact, roughly 90% of all student interviewers are volunteers. Political science majors and minors who are work-study eligible have the opportunity to apply for paid positions with the center. Like the volunteers, employees are trained in the science of public opinion polling and spend at least one year refining their interviewing skills while working as a student interviewer. During their second year employees have the option of taking on the responsibility of training new student interviewers; and their third year they may apply for a position as a project manager. Regardless of whether a student is a volunteer, employee, trainer, or project manager, the experience they acquire is invaluable. The knowledge and skills that students acquired at the center have led to internships, jobs, and research assistantships in graduate school.听

Opportunities for Political Science Students

    At 六合彩开奖记录t University, students are encouraged to be active members of a learning community. One way that students of political science participate in this community is by joining Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society.

    Pi Sigma Alpha is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies and has nearly 700 chapters at colleges and universities across the nation. The honor society seeks to promote excellence in the study of political science through a wide range of programs including chapter activity grants, scholarships for graduate study, Washington internship scholarships, and awards for best chapters and senior theses. In recent years, the 六合彩开奖记录t University chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha has been awarded activity grants and one of its students was awarded a $5,000 scholarship for graduate study.

    In addition to the many professional benefits provided to members of Pi Sigma Alpha, the 六合彩开奖记录t chapter helps its members organize any number of campus events. For example, In presidential election years Pi Sigma Alpha students organize a "presidential debate," where students represent different candidates in a formal debate. Pi Sigma Alpha organizes the department's annual holiday party, the end of the year celebration and the Ad Hoc dinners. Although not all students meet the requirements for membership in the honor society, every political science student benefits from its activities. With the exception of the Induction Ceremony, all political science majors and minors are invited to attend the society's events.

    While attending graduate school or law school is not required for many careers related to the political science major, many of the department鈥檚 graduates opt for a few more years of education. Each year about one-third of the graduating class will apply for admission to graduate programs in political science or a related field, such a public administration or public policy, or to law school. The Political Science Department has an excellent record of placing students in top-notch graduate programs and law schools. In fact, since 1993 ninety-nine percent of political science majors who applied to law school were admitted to at least one program. This is a record that is rivaled by few political science programs in the nation.

    Below is a list of graduate and law schools attended by student who graduated with a degree in political science from 六合彩开奖记录t University since 1993. Many of the schools listed below have educated multiple graduates of the 六合彩开奖记录t political science program.

    Graduate Schools

    University of Virginia Cambridge University Boston University Texas A&M (George Bush School of Government & Public Service)
    听Indiana University (SPEA School of Public and Environmental Affairs) The Ohio State University 听Florida State University 听Tufts University
    Catholic University Georgetown University University of Pittsburgh Duquesne University
    Carnegie Mellon University University of Maryland University of California-Santa Barbara American University
    Syracuse University (Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs) George Washington U University of St Andrews (Scotland) University of Oxford (St Antony鈥檚 College)
    Brock University (Canada) University of Toronto University of San Francisco University of Chicago
    Seton Hall University of Arizona Northern Illinois University New York University
    Columbia University University of Buffalo University of Maine Villanova University
    Virginia Tech University George Mason University John Carroll University New College of California
    Drake University University of Scranton University of New Mexico Cleveland State University
    St. John鈥檚 University (Italy Campus) 听Wayne State University Loyola University Chicago University of Denver (Josef Korbel School of International Studies)
    University of Baltimore California State-University of Sacramento University of Illinois Long Island University
    University of North Texas Case Western Reserve University (Weatherhead School of Management) St. Bonaventure University University of Southern California (USC)
    University of Delaware Florida International University University of Wyoming Cornell University
    University of Missouri University of Wyoming Johns Hopkins Portland State University
    University of the Arts London Fairfield University St. John Fisher University听

    Law Schools

    Penn State University-Dickinson School of Law West Virginia University College of Law University of Miami (FL) School of Law Boston College Law School
    University of Michigan Law School Buffalo State University School of Law听 Case Western Reserve University School of Law Cleveland State (Cleveland Marshall College of Law)
    University of Akron School of Law University of Pittsburgh School of Law Duquesne University Law School Widener University School of Law
    University of Dayton School of Law University of California-Davis School of Law DePaul University College of Law University of Maine School of Law
    Michigan State University College of Law Ohio Northern University College of Law Thomas M Cooley Law School (Michigan) 听University of Toledo College of Law
    Florida Coastal School of Law University of Missouri School of Law Hofstra Law School Valparaiso University Law School
    University of Baltimore School of Law Indiana University Maurer School of Law William & Mary College of Law The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
    3+3 Law School Programs

    Duquesne University and Cleveland Marshall law schools and 六合彩开奖记录t University have a 3-3 program, in which after three years of academic study at 六合彩开奖记录t University eligible students may complete their fourth year of undergraduate study during their first year as a law student. 听This means that students may earn their bachelors and juris doctorate (law) degrees in six, rather than seven years. To take advantage of this opportunity a student must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 after three years at 六合彩开奖记录t (96 credit hours), complete all undergraduate curriculum in their major field and their REACH requirements, earn a minimum LSAT score in the 60th percentile (155+), be recommended by the Vice-President of Academic Affairs, and participate in an interview with the Dean of Admissions of Duquesne University or Cleveland Marshall law school. Each student in this early admission program will be awarded a bachelor鈥檚 degree by 六合彩开奖记录t University after successful completion of the first year of law school.

    Early Admission to GSPIA

    Political Science majors at 六合彩开奖记录t University have the option of applying for early admission to the prestigious Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. GSPIA offers three main academic master鈥檚 degree programs, and each can be completed in either 20 months of full-time study or on a part-time basis. The degree programs include the Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Public & International Affairs (MPIA) and Master of International Development (MID). Each master鈥檚 degree provides several options for a major, and students have the flexibility to customize their education as any major can be taken as a minor. Students interested in pursuing early admission to GSPIA work closely with their political science faculty advisor during their third year at 六合彩开奖记录t as they complete the application process.

    The Political Science Department has a long and distinguished history of helping students to achieve academic excellence. The department鈥檚 innovative curriculum, abundant extracurricular opportunities, and outstanding faculty not only help students to learn about politics and the methods we use to study political phenomena, but also foster the inquisitiveness and creativity that are hallmarks of outstanding students. As a result, graduating political science majors and minors are regularly honored by 六合彩开奖记录t University with prestigious senior awards. These awards are given to a single student from each graduating class whose accomplishments far exceed those of any of their classmates. Political science students who recently received a university or college award are listed below.

    Carpe Diem Award: Vince Marrazzo (triple major), 2019; Jonah Jackson (major), 2018; Sam Lioi (double major), 2017; and Caleb Ohmer (double major), 2016

    This honor is the highest award presented by 六合彩开奖记录t University to a traditional-aged student. It is given in recognition of intellectual competency, personal integrity and, especially, leadership impact. It is presented to the outstanding graduating senior who had the most positive impact on the life of the 六合彩开奖记录t community and who best exemplifies the university motto "Carpe Diem," to "Seize the Opportunity". The name and criteria for this award were established by the Sister of Mercy under the leadership of Mother Borgia Egan, the founding president of 六合彩开奖记录t University.

    Bishops Award of Excellence: Emily Francis (major), 2015 and Alethea Gaarden (double major), 2014

    This award is chosen by grade point average and overall academic record. The winner must have taken the majority of classes toward the degree requirement at 六合彩开奖记录t University, with the exception of study abroad or with a 六合彩开奖记录t-affiliated program. The Catholic Diocese of Erie sponsors this award. This award is presented at commencement.

    Mother Borgia Egan Award: Stefani Baughman (double major), 2015 and Matt Hatfield (triple major), 2016

    This award recognizes the model honors student who fully embodies the spirit of a liberal arts education. He or she will have completed all the requirements of the 六合彩开奖记录t Honors Program and will possess the following qualities: academic and scholarly/professional accomplishments, community service and an appreciation of and participation in the cultural environment of the University.

    President鈥檚 Award for Excellence: Maggie Hackney (double major), 2019; Meghan Maker (minor), 2019; Morgan Stacey (minor), 2019; Yedzin Tobgay (double major), 2018; Hallie McDonald (major), 2015; and Mary Mancuso (major), 2014

    Each of the five Schools at the University, under the direction and guidance of the respective School Dean, nominate three traditional seniors in their respective Schools. The criteria for selection are GPA and overall contribution to the respective School. The award is given to the student who is considered to be the top scholar in each respective School.

    Catherine McAuley Adult Student Award: Audra Alexander (double major) and 2018; Nina Aamodt (major), 2015

    This award is presented to an adult student in recognition of superior work, as well as personal and professional achievement. The non-traditional student who wins this award will be the student who has been judged to be the most outstanding adult student in the graduating class. The award is based on GPA, but also takes into account professional achievement, family responsibilities and other challenges that can face adult students.

    President's Award for Adult Excellence: Jason Shaffer (double major), 2018

    Under the direction and guidance of the School Deans, each School nominates an adult student for this award. The criteria for selection are GPA and overall contribution to the University. The award is given to one adult student who is considered to be a top scholar at the University.

Catch Up with Political Science Alumni

Ben Vanhook

After completing his undergraduate studies in Political Science and Psychology, he earned his master鈥檚 degree in public policy from George Mason University. Besides his full-time employment with the Organization for Autism Research (OAR), he is a sought-after public speaker, advocate, and consultant on the equitable inclusion of autistic individuals in education and employment. He has spoken at the United Nations for World Autism Acceptance Day as well as at Stanford and Johns Hopkins.

– Ben V. '21
alexandra bennet

After graduating magna cum laude in 2020 with a B.A. in Political Science (Pre-Law) and minor in Gender Studies, Alexandra received her master鈥檚 in public administration with a concentration in governance and international public management from the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs in 2022. Alexandra is the administrative coordinator for the Strategy & Research team and assists in performing strategic and market research and analysis for the Pittsburgh region.

– Alexandra B. '20
brittany warren

At 六合彩开奖记录t, Brittany was involved in student government, served as president of the International Students Organization, and co-founded 六合彩开奖记录t鈥檚 chapter of the Student Alliance for Prison Reform (SAPR). She also volunteered as a peer tutor and a polling representative with 六合彩开奖记录t Center for Applied Politics. Brittany is a J.D. candidate at the University of Michigan School of Law, where she鈥檚 a student-attorney with the Michigan Innocence Clinic, which has successfully won the release of 26 men and women who had been wrongfully convicted of crimes since its inception in 2009.

– Brittany W. '19