Program Overview:

Undergraduate Political Science Major

Both a humanistic and social scientific discipline, political science is dedicated to the study of power, politics and government. It is also exciting in its continual relevance and the diversity of its subjects—political theory, international relations, comparative politics and American politics. Political science deploys multiple methods—qualitative, quantitative, historical, comparative, interpretative and critical—to investigate a plethora of topics and issues, among them war, strategy, law, legislation, local politics, public life, voting, public opinion, authority, urban dynamics, poverty, human rights, social capital, executive power, foreign policy, trade flows, international organizations and revolutions in all parts of the world.

Study of political science provides a broad liberal arts education, developing skills in critical thinking, data analysis, research, writing and argumentation, and in ethical reasoning, and contributes to civic education by offering student-citizens the means to better understand and engage in politics and public life. A background in political science is indispensable for work in politics and government and a number of different careers related to law, communication and media, science, business, and public service.

Program Goals

Graduates will be prepared to:

  • Demonstrate the capacity to think critically about local, national and global politics
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the major forms of government in the world, political and economic relations among nations and key works of political inquiry
  • Use various social science methodologies common to the field of political science, including political theory
  • Write persuasively and communicate effectively
  • Work independently and conduct independent research


Distribution Requirements

Political Science Major Requirements

  •           3 of the following 200-level courses
  • POLI SCI  201  Introduction to Political Theory

    This course provides an introduction to the identification and critical analysis of some of the fundamental ideas in the history of political thought. Central questions include: What are the ideals that should organize our collective life - justice, liberty, equality, democracy, or something else? What exactly do these concepts mean? What is the source of our political obligations, and what are the limits to what the state can legitimately expect from us? We examine these questions and how prominent thinkers have answered them by reading classic texts, using them to think critically about the nature of politics and political ideas.

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  • POLI SCI  220  American Government and Politics

    Covering the structure and process of American politics from competing perspectives, this course offers an analysis of representation, voting, interest groups, parties, leadership, and policy-making institutions.

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  • POLI SCI  221  Urban Politics

    This course examines the structure of local and regional political power and its relation to the social and economic structure of community. Chicago and other large American cities are emphasized.

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  • POLI SCI  230  Introduction to Law in the Political Arena

    The central theme of this course will be the growing "legalization" of American society: the increased use of the legal system and legal processes to address situations that previously were handled through other means or simply not addressed at all. We look at the origins and structures of laws; the legal profession, attorneys and judges; state and federal court organization; the significance of appellate courts as policy-making bodies; and the little-known but often crucial roles of arbitration and administrative hearings.

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  • POLI SCI  240  Introduction to International Relations

    This course provides an introduction to the field of international relations. We will read classical political philosophy texts that address questions of international relations, which form the basis for many contemporary debates in international relations; examine major theories of the international system -- such as realism, liberalism and various critical theories -- and link them up to their classical influences; will examine contemporary issues such as terrorism and global warming in light of the classical texts and major theories discussed.

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  • POLI SCI  250  Introduction to Comparative Politics

    Scholars of comparative politics analyze how and why countries differ from each other - and why those differences matter. Why are some countries democracies, while others are not? What kind of non-democratic regimes exist? Why do some countries transition from authoritarianism into democracy? Why are some countries rich and others poor? Does democracy help or hurt economic growth? What causes civil wars, social revolutions, and other forms of political violence? By delving into these and other questions, students in this course will gain vital knowledge of the core concepts, methodological tools, and theoretical approaches that enable political scientists to comprehend the various countries of the world.

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  • 6 additional 300-level political science courses   
  • POLI SCI  395  Political Research Seminar

    Course topics vary. Students research and complete a term paper.

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  • STAT  202  Introduction to Statistics

    This course provides an introduction to the basic concepts of statistics. Throughout the course, students will learn to: summarize data using graphs and tables; explain/calculate descriptive statistics, confidence intervals, correlation, regression, and probability; and explain tests of significance and data-production including sampling and experiments. Basic knowledge of algebra is recommended.

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