Political Science

Political Science Bachelor of Arts On-Campus Degree

About Political Science

Explore important lessons about the full spectrum of power.

As a political science major at PennWest California, you'll learn to break down power relations to uncover the behaviors, practices and rules of the game that designates who gets what, when and how. Through the B.A. in Political Science degree program, you will study the full spectrum of power to understand behaviors that lead to political gains, as well as the barriers that prohibit access to political power.

The undergraduate political science program encourages students to develop literate, critical thinking. Students also work with faculty engaged in diverse, broadly based research and study. Political science professors serve as mentors, assisting you not only as you learn, but also as you build character and prepare for your career.

Gain a career advantage with PennWest California's top undergraduate program in political science.

Political science is a highly prescribed discipline that focuses on the political aspects of human behavior, both national and international, including the study of power and organizations. Political science faculty members have published in many specialized areas, such as parties and elections, constitutional law, political theory, and area studies.  

 A degree in political science prepares students for a variety of careers in the public and private sectors. Political science graduates may be employed in national, state and local government agencies; international government and public agencies; fields such as criminal justice, environmental protection, consumer affairs or urban planning; political consulting and research firms; nonprofit organizations and citizen action groups; and public policy analysis.


Specialized study:  Students can take a wide range of courses in the major subfields: American politics, public policy, public administration, comparative politics, international relations and political theory. The political science program concludes with a challenging senior seminar and project in which students hone their acquired research and analytical skills by presenting an original case study of their choosing. At the same time they do the planning necessary to enter the 21st-century workforce.

Vital experience: Political science students have excellent opportunities to gain real experience before graduation. In The Harrisburg Internship Semester (THIS), students spend a semester in Harrisburg, Pa., working in state government and attending seminars. Although the program is open to all majors, most applicants are political science majors, primarily because they aspire to work in the public sector. Political science majors also have participated in the Legislative Fellowship Program-Pennsylvania House of Representatives, spending an entire semester interning with the Bipartisan Management Committee. Over the past two academic years, three PennWest California political science students have been selected for the honor.

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Student-to-faculty ratio at PennWest California.
Credit hours for the bachelor's degree in political science, which can be completed in eight semesters or four years.
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Degree Benefits

Political science majors have the opportunity to pursue their specific interests because the political science program has such a flexible curriculum. All majors must take four core courses and one course in each of four major subfields: American politics, public policy, public administration, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. Each student consults with his or her faculty adviser to create an individualized plan of study. Many political science majors concentrate on applied courses (e.g., Campaign Management, and Public Opinion and Political Behavior) or international relations (e.g., Politics of World Economy, and Politics of the Middle East). A large number declare a pre-law concentration. The goal is to make students employable with a baccalaureate degree. According to a recent Forbes study, among all liberal arts graduates, political science graduates have the most success on the job market.

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Graduate Outcomes

The undergraduate degree in political science prepares students for careers with government at the local, state and federal levels, and with corporations and public service agencies. With a curriculum that has a special emphasis on public policy and administration, students find training in policy design and evaluation, as well as institutional processes, management models, and patterns of negotiation and organization that are helpful in entering positions ranging from policy managers to political and campaign consultants to economic development and public finance officials. PennWest California political science graduates go on to graduate work at such institutions as American University, Duke University, Duquesne University, Georgetown University, Howard University, Kent State University, Loyola University-New Orleans, University of Akron, University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Kentucky, University of New Orleans, University of Pittsburgh, University of Pennsylvania, University of Tennessee and University of Virginia.

Political Science (B.A.)
Students talk as they walk through campus.

Research Focus

Political science majors have presented their research at the following annual conferences: CERIS, Midwest Political Science Association, Southern Political Science Association, Pennsylvania Political Science Association, Ohio Association of Economists and Political Scientists, All Politics Is Local (Walsh University), and the American Democracy Project. All graduating seniors are required to present their research at PennWest California's Strike a Spark conference. Students frequently work with political science faculty members on research projects.  Over the past several years, students have co-authored conference papers on civic engagement, voter suppression, congressional elections, and blogging and politics. Two students and PennWest California professors co-authored an article on civic engagement that appears in an edited volume published by Indiana University Press and another student along with university professors co-authored a book chapter on congressional elections published by Palgrave MacMillan.

A PennWest California student poses with American flags.

Campus Connections

Political science students who meet the academic requirements are eligible for membership in  Pi Sigma Alpha the national political science honor society Cal U Campaign Consultants is a unique student organization that enables students to learn professional campaign techniques. Members use their skills to manage student government campaigns and work on local, state and national campaigns during election years. A political scientist is the faculty adviser for  College Democrats, which is especially active during election years. The Department of History, Politics and Society assists in promoting  College Republicansalthough the faculty adviser is in a different area. 

Balloons falling down at the Democratic National Convention.

Unique Opportunities

The PennWest California campus chapter of the American Democracy Project is recognized for its extensive programming. Dr. Melanie Blumberg has led the initiative since 2003. Most recently, she worked on efforts to have PennWest California designated a Voter Friendly Campus. Students also benefit from the Consortium for Educational Resources in Islamic Studies (CERIS), an educational trust and charity consisting of more than 25 colleges, universities, business associations and private charitable foundations that bring to the academic and general communities knowledge, general awareness and real-world contact with leading individuals and societies within the contemporary Islamic world. Among its ongoing and continuing projects are student scholarships and conferences, accreditation seminars, and inviting high-profile speakers and visitors to institutions and communities. Several PennWest California students, under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Heim, have presented their research at the organization's annual meeting.


B.A., Political Science Courses


Course Credits
General Education Courses 40 or 41
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100  First-Year Seminar
  • ENG 101  English Composition I
  • Select from: ENG 102, 211, 217; HON 250  
Public Speaking
Any Public Speaking Course
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
Any Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy Course
Health and Wellness
Any Health and Wellness Course
Technological Literacy
Any Technological Literacy
Any Humanities Course
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course
Natural Sciences
Any Natural Sciences Course
3 or 4
Social Sciences
Any Social Sciences Course
General Education Options
  • Any Ethics and Multicultural Awareness Emphasis Course
  • Additional General Education Courses (two courses)
Required Major Courses 12
POS 100  Intro. To Political Sci. 3
POS 105  American Politics 3
POS 301  Research Methods POS 3
POS 450  Seminar in Politics 3
Required Related Courses  12
American Politics Course (select one): POS 303, 306, 310, 311, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 329, 344, 415
International Relations/Comparative Politics Course (select one): POS 210, 312, 320, 323, 325, 326, 336, 340, 346, 360, 381 3
Political Theory Course (select one): POS 307, 327, 330, 347, 348 3
Public Administration/Public Policy Course (select one): POS 300, 308, 317, 335, 344, 355, 365, 370, 375 3
Political Science Electives 18
Select six POS courses 18
Free Electives 37 or 38
Total 120

Additional requirements, not counted toward the General Education requirements, include:

  • Special Experience Course (1 course required): POS 450 Seminar in Politics
  • Writing-Intensive Component Courses (2 courses required): POS 301 Research Methods in Political Science AND POS 450 Seminar in Politics
  • Laboratory Course (1 course required): Any Laboratory Course

Program Notes: Minimum GPA - 2.0; Minimum Credits - 120.

B.A., Political Science - Minor & Concentration

  • History
  • Political Science