Political Science is a broad social science discipline devoted to the study of government and politics of the US, other countries, and the international system. Our central goal is to produce students with a well-rounded knowledge of the discipline and a set of skills that serve as a basis for careers in any number of fields after graduation.
The study of political science provides an excellent basis to learn new skills and knowledge that can be applied in nearly any field. As a discipline, the focus of study is on the political process and institutions of various political systems, including the United States. However, the analysis of politics and government often involves other disciplines, such as history, economics, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychology, business, criminal justice, etc. This explicitly multi-disciplinary approach contributes to well-rounded graduates, which naturally leads them into a wide variety of careers. Moreover, the major emphasizes examining problems from multiple perspectives, attention to factual details, and the need to continually develop and revise broader theoretical ideas. This academic experience is later utilized by graduates in whatever careers they choose to pursue.
The Political Science program emphasizes the development of a key set of skills that will enhance a graduate’s long-term career prospects. Specifically, our courses highlight the importance of reading comprehension, critical and analytical thinking, and written and oral communication skills. For students that choose advanced educational opportunities after graduation, such as law school or graduate school, these skills serve as an essential foundation for future academic success. Other students prefer to directly enter the workforce and these same skills are widely applicable in politics, business, journalism, public administration, criminal justice, communications, marketing, and research. Put simply, the emphasis on skills is designed to allow our graduates to excel in almost any career path. Indeed, our recent graduates have selected careers related to politics, government, business, education, law, and criminal justice.
Students in the program develop a broad body of knowledge about politics and government that serves two further goals. First, the factual basis of government and politics is the subject that we use to develop key skills—reading, analysis, and communication. Knowing the basic structures of government and the rules of political behavior is the basis for contrasting and applying different ideological and philosophical perspectives on politics. Second, a strong knowledge-base serves to help students (and ultimately graduates) exercise leadership and civic engagement. In other words, knowledge of political systems affords students an important advantage to engage in political participation and advocacy.
The curriculum in Political Science reflects our wide-ranging perspective on politics, with courses that range from US politics to regional politics and international relations. These include courses on the presidency and Congress, state and local politics, campaigns and elections, civic engagement and participation, US foreign policy, and courts and the Constitution. The department also offers courses about specific regions, such as Latin America and the Middle East, as well as thematic courses about global democratization, political economy, terrorism, human rights and international activism, and international organizations. Moreover, students are encouraged to take additional courses with significant political content outside of the department.
The Political Science major requires a total of 37 credits (typically 13 courses) and provides students maximum flexibility to pursue their interests. Only four courses are specifically required: the foundation courses in each of the three major subfields (American politics, comparative politics, and international relations) and one course in social science methodology. Remaining courses may be selected by the student based on interest and availability. In most cases, courses are relatively small and students receive individual attention. Political Science majors work closely with advisers throughout the program to select appropriate courses in both the discipline and the General Education program (required of all graduates). As a small—but growing—program, we work to serve the varied needs and interests of our majors as we prepare them for the highly competitive global workforce.
All majors are encouraged, but not required, to consider three key opportunities at Mansfield University. First, we strongly support the study of a foreign language. Developing a foreign language skill requires hard work and dedication, but the benefits include a better understanding of global culture, a way of distinguishing a graduate from the competition, and the further honing of critical thinking skills. Second, we urge majors to take advantage of our extensive study abroad options. A semester-long experience in any foreign country teaches students about the target country, about the US, and about themselves. In most cases, students can take courses toward the major (and the General Education requirements) while overseas. Some study abroad options do not require foreign language experience. Last, we highly recommend that our majors gain some practical work experience through internships. We have placed full-time interns in both Washington DC and Harrisburg, working for government agencies and interest groups. Part-time internships can be arranged locally during the semester and over the summer. Up to 6 credits may be applied toward the major; all credits count toward graduation requirements.
Our program will:
- Provide an academically challenging curriculum based on the sub-fields of political science: American politics, comparative politics (politics within countries), and international relations (politics among countries).
- Promote independent thinking, thorough analysis, and critical perspectives on issues and problems.
- Instill an appreciation for the complexities of politics and the importance of civic engagement.
The student will:
- identify and explain underlying principles, actors, institutions, and processes associated with political science.
- relate current events to political science.
- construct analytical arguments supported with evidence.
- investigate political phenomena using social science methods.
- communicate ideas and information in an effective manner.
There are a total of 37 credits needed for a B.A. in Political Science. All majors must take the following required courses (16 credits):
- PHL 2205 Law, Morality and Authority
- PSC 2201 Introduction to American Government
- PSC 2210 Introduction to International Relations
- PSC 2212 Introduction to Comparative Politics
- PSC 3308 Social Science Research Methods
- PSC 4444 Political Science Seminar (1 credit)
Students must also take an additional 21 credits of political science electives. However, 15 of the 21 credits must be from an upper division political science course (3000 or 4000 level).
Students are also required to select a minor (in consultation with their adviser) unless they have completed the second year of a foreign language.