The Department of Political Science & Public Service offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science with concentrations in American Studies, International and Comparative Studies, Legal Studies, Public Policy, and Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. Each degree concentration is described below. Students should also refer to the Undergraduate Catalog for course descriptions and other important information.
**Please contact Amy Oaks if you don't have an advisor.
American Studies is the concentration for students who are interested in the study and practice of American Government. Classes explore such topics as the institutions of government at the state and federal level (executive, Congress, judiciary), elections and campaigns, interest groups, and the political behavior of citizens. In their classes, students will learn how to interpret current events, analyze the news, write coherently, create and consume original research, read and interpret statistics and data, argue a point with clarity and logic, and integrate different sources of information in a meaningful way.
International and Comparative Studies
Course work in the Legal Studies concentration encourages Political Science majors to focus attention on structural and procedural aspects of our federal court system while also analyzing philosophical and ideological perspectives that have influenced conflicting assessments of the proper role of the Supreme Court in our system of government. Students explore the nature of legal reasoning as well as diverse theories of constitutional interpretation while pursuing in-depth studies within such legal studies topical areas as justice and the American trial process, constitutional law, civil liberties, the philosophy of law, the philosophy of punishment, religious liberty, and a complex array of constantly evolving First Amendment issues.
Analysis of the nature and functioning of the American judiciary is essential to understanding our American version of republicanism. As Alexis de Tocqueville observed in Democracy in America (1836), “There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one.” Clearly, court decisions affect nearly all aspects of our political and personal lives since our federal courts, through the exercise of judicial review, are entrusted with assessing the constitutionality of both executive and legislative actions on all levels of American government. Moreover, in recent times, Supreme Court decisions have often defined the limits of contested political and legal rights and civil liberties.
Students enrolled in the Legal Studies concentration confront such seminal questions regarding our Constitution and judiciary as how did Americans come to possess a Constitution that functions as a “higher law” to which Congress and the President must conform? Is Supreme Court rule-making compatible with democratic rule? Why are federal judges appointed rather than elected? Should judges interpret constitutions in the same manner as they construe statutes? What role, if any, should the federal courts play in facilitating social change? What are the practical outcomes of the supremacy of the Constitution, federal laws and treaties to state laws and constitutions? Should courts protect established legal doctrines, or should such doctrines be subjected to continual scrutiny and revision? Should due process be regarded merely as a procedural concept, or should due process entail substantive rights guarantees?
Experienced in textual analysis, with well-practiced written and verbal communication skills, and evidence of analytical expertise, students graduating with a BS in Political Science and a concentration in Legal Studies are well-equipped to be competitive in law school, the public sector, and judicial administration.
Policy-related electives offered throughout the university explore policy areas including environment, social welfare, crime, labor, economics, education, technology, urban policy, community health, and immigration. In these courses, students investigate issues like how societal problems come to be addressed by public policy, the strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of policies, how public policy is shaped by policy implementation, why people disagree over what kinds of policies are legitimate, and how all this plays out in specific policy areas they're interested in.
Graduates of this concentration are prepared to work in entry-level positions in government and nonprofit agencies related to proposing, implementing, and analyzing public policies; to participate in public policy processes as an informed citizen; and to pursue graduate education in public policy, law, public administration, or specific policy areas.
Public Administration and Nonprofit Management
The Public Administration and Nonprofit Management (PANM) concentration offers two distinct tracks - one in public administration and the other in nonprofit management. With a focus on either the public or nonprofit sector, students in the PANM concentration learn the structure of government and nonprofit entities and how to manage people, financial resources and communications to best serve diverse populations.
The PANM concentration is designed to prepare students for management-related careers in fields such as public policy, financial management, program evaluation, social welfare, and the arts. It equips students with the knowledge, skills, and values required for effective public and nonprofit management.