The Department of Political Science has two main sets of learning goals. The first is the acquisition of specialized knowledge in the field of political science. The second is the development of general skills that will serve students regardless of their future course of study or employment.

Specialized Knowledge in the Discipline of Political Science

Political science majors should:

  • Become acquainted with each of the four major subfields within the discipline: American politics; comparative politics; political theory; international relations
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge in, and understanding of, one of the subfields within the discipline
  • Be familiar with the place of political science within the broader spectrum of the social sciences and history.
  • Understand the central role of racial diversity and hierarchy in shaping the state, national politics, international relations, and the discipline of political science itself.

General Skills

Political science majors should be able to:

  • Understand and use the methods that political scientists use to answer questions about politics
  • Use critical thinking and evidence to understand and evaluate rival theories and interpretations
  • Formulate and express in writing a well-organized argument, supported by evidence
  • Conduct research in political science, using materials such as primary, secondary, and online sources or databases, in support of an original argument.

Student progress is assessed with reference to:

  • Student papers, ranging from short essays to original research papers and senior theses
  • Oral presentations and performance in discussions in classes
  • Examinations.

Department performance will be assessed by:

  • Student course evaluations
  • Feedback from teaching assistants
  • Tracking the number of courses that require original research papers, oral presentations, and/or the development of methodological skills.