Political Science Major
Maria Rosales, Associate Professor, Chair
Kent John Chabotar, President and Professor
George X. Guo, Professor
Kyle Dell, Associate Professor
Kenneth E. Gilmore, Associate Professor
Robert Duncan, Visiting Assistant Professor
The Department of Political Science prepares students for engaged citizenship. “Engaged citizenship” in this context means not merely to understand or to manage the effects of political events and governmental actions on society, but also to evaluate and seek to shape them. We do this by providing our students with the knowledge, intellectual and practical skills, values and experiences necessary to fulfill their responsibilities as members of an effective and diverse civil society. More specifically, the department sets the following goals for the A.B. degree in political science: to provide a skills-based education for citizenship, government employment, and public service; to provide politically literate students the tools with which to influence their communities through public service and socially beneficial work; to train future governmental leaders and employees; and to prepare students for successful graduate work.
The Bachelor of Arts degree is offered in Political Science.
The major requires a minimum of 40 credit hours (nine courses plus the capstone experience course).
Required Core Courses
- PSCI 101 The American Political System – 4 credits
- PSCI 103 International Relations – 4 credits
- PSCI 105 Comparative Politics – 4 credits
- PSCI 106 Classics in Political Thought – 4 credits
- PSCI 230 Politics of Problem Solving – 4 credits
- Any two PSCI courses, internships, independent studies – 8 credits
- Any two 300-400 level PSCI courses – 8 credits
Required Capstone Experience
- PSCI 465 Senior Independent Project, PSCI 470 Senior Thesis or PSCI 490 Senior Honors – 4 credits
Total credit hours required for A.B. degree in Political Science – 40 credits
It is recommended that majors complete PSCI 101 and PSCI 103 prior to taking PSCI 230, and that all core courses be completed before taking upper level elective courses. Of the 16 elective credits, at least eight must be from 300 level courses or above.
Majors may want to focus their elective credits in an area of particular interest in order to provide more in-depth knowledge of one of the particular sub-disciplines of political science: American politics/public policy and administration; international relations; comparative politics or political theory/political analysis. The core courses serve as a foundation for upper-level courses within each of the four tracks.
Areas of Study
American Politics/Public Policy and Administration
This track focuses on governmental and policy dynamics and debates within the United States. Students are exposed to the organization and behavior of the institutions, groups and participants in the American political arena. Students in this track investigate various public policies and political behaviors from a broad array of governmental and non-governmental institutions. Study in this track equips students for graduate studies in American politics and public policy and provides a foundation for careers in American government, teaching, or other public policy sectors.
Recommended elective courses: PSCI 204, PSCI 225, PSCI 301, PSCI 305, PSCI 317, PSCI 318, PSCI 319, PSCI 335, PSCI 355, PSCI 365, PSCI 389.
International relations focus on the manner in which states and other actors interact in the global arena. The track exposes students to a wide variety of methods-approaches, and substantive concerns. This track equips students for graduate studies in international affairs and provides a foundation for careers in international business, diplomacy, or other public policy sectors. Students interested in this track may also double-major in international studies or complete a minor in African, East Asian or Latin American studies. Language courses are essential in this regard and thus, are strongly encouraged.
Recommended elective courses: PSCI 275, PSCI 316, PSCI 330, PSCI 345, PSCI 350, PSCI 366, PSCI 391.
The goal of comparative politics is to equip students with the concepts and methods of research necessary for understanding the enormity of contemporary political, economic and social changes, and to elucidate their significance. Students will apply practical research methods to examine policy processes and outcomes in different nations–in areas such as industry, education, health care, housing and social security. Other issues covered within the comparative politics track include political and economic development, the relationship between economic development and democratization, reform and revolution. Students interested in this track may also double-major in international studies or complete a relevant minor. Language courses are essential in this regard and thus are strongly encouraged.
Recommended elective courses: PSCI 206, PSCI 210, PSCI 222, PSCI 315, PSCI 350.
Political Theory/Political Analysis
Political theory challenges students to confront the full history of political thought in order to sharpen and focus their analytical skills and to develop for themselves standards of judgment through which they can assess the relative merits of political systems and public policies. To this end, students in this track pursue coursework and independent study in the following areas: the history of political ideas (such as freedom, obligation, justice, power, and democracy); interpretation of political texts; and normative approaches to persistent political issues and problems. This track equips students for graduate study in political science and law as well as for various careers in community service and public policy.
Recommended elective courses: PSCI 240, PSCI 305, PSCI 364, PSCI 367.
Departmental Honors in Political Science
Majors must enroll in PSCI 465 Senior Independent Project or PSCI 470 Senior Thesis. Upon completion of PSCI 470, students may petition the department to grant Departmental Honors (PSCI 490). Requirements for Departmental Honors include: a grade-point average of 3.50 or better in the discipline and a 3.00 or higher cumulative grade point average. Departmental Honors requires extensive reading in a selected area of the discipline and submission of a 50-60 page thesis that includes: a) substantial scholarly literature review; b) proposed research methodology; c) type of analysis; d) schedule; and e) an explanation of how this project will contribute to the body of knowledge. The honors program culminates in an oral examination evaluated by three members of the faculty, two of whom must be from the department, and an outside examiner. Students interested in pursuing Departmental Honors must consult with the department in the student’s junior year in order to develop an approved proposal (generally spring semester, junior year). Students pursuing a Senior Thesis or Departmental Honors will then successfully complete a PSCI 460 Independent Study in the fall semester of senior year, which will serve as a research semester in preparation for writing a senior thesis or honors thesis in spring semester of the student’s senior year.
Internships and Independent Study
Students may apply only up to eight credits from any internship, independent study or teaching assistantship toward the major. These credits may not fulfill the two 300 level course requirements for the major. Many students elect to do an internship or independent study related to their political science studies. Students may participate in internships located in Greensboro, such as private law offices and local government agencies. Students may also elect to participate in The Washington Center or The Capitol Experience internship programs in Washington, D.C., or state-based internship programs such as the Institute of Government and the North Carolina Government programs. We strongly encourage students to engage in internships. Students interested in pursuing an internship or independent study must obtain approval of a full-time faculty member of the department to serve as a sponsor. Approval of internships or independent studies is at the discretion of the departmental faculty.
Internship Requirements: In order to qualify for an internship, students must have: a) completed at least two of the five core courses; b) a 3.0 or better grade-point average within the department, and c) submitted one-page proposal for the instructor’s approval to include: 1) learning objectives, 2) check points, 3) evaluation criteria and 4) schedule. Requirements for completing an internship include: five-20 pages of writing (depending upon the number of credits) of the internship that addresses the learning objectives listed in the proposal and that conforms to the standards and conventions of the discipline. Students are responsible for meeting all deadlines and submitting all paperwork for an internship on time; failure to do so will result in a failing grade for the internship.
Independent Study Requirements: In order to qualify for an independent study (including teaching and research assistant positions), students must have at a minimum: a) completed five core courses; b) a 3.0 or better grade-point average within the department. Requirements for completing an independent study include: five-20 pages of writing (depending upon the number of credits allowed) that conforms to the standards and conventions of the discipline or appropriate alternative work, as determined by the professor. Students are responsible for meeting all deadlines and submitting all paperwork for an independent study on time; failure to do so will result in a failing grade for the independent study.
Accepting AP Credits
Incoming political science majors who have a score of 4 or higher on the Advanced Placement Test for American Government or Comparative Government & Politics are given credit for having taken PSCI 101 The American Political System or PSCI 105 Comparative Politics, respectively.