Political science, broadly defined, is the study of political power and the ends to which that power is used.
It is "scientific" in the sense that there is a systematic body of knowledge about political behavior which can be studied empirically, normatively, and experientially. It is "political" in the sense that it concentrates on the institutions and processes of political systems that exercise power in an authoritative way. But in a broader sense, political science also studies the larger issues of justice and the ways in which the use of political power advances or retards the achievement of justice.
Political science prepares students for possible careers in public administration; federal, state, and local elected office; public policy analysis; lobbying, journalism, political consulting, law, and graduate work leading to teaching, research, or administration at the university level.
For additional information on studying Political Science, contact:
Frank Wayman, Ph.D.
Political Science Discipline Representative
More about Political Science
Politics deals with "who gets what," and political science is the study of that process of getting and maintaining power. It is an attempt to define and analyze the processes by which individuals define their interests and interact to promote those interests. At the same time it is the study of the moral ends to which power is used. The six officially defined areas of specialty within political science are American Politics, Political Theory, Public Policy, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Research Methodology.
In addition to courses that enable undergraduate students to build knowledge and develop a concentration of study in these areas, the Master of Public Administration (MPA) is also available through political science.
For more detailed listings of course requirements and special restrictions/stipulations related to the political science major or minor, please go to the Undergraduate Academic Catalog listing for political science.
Requirements for the Major
- Political Science majors must take three prerequisites: POL 101, 201, and 300 or their equivalents.
- You are advised to complete these prerequisite courses as early as possible. You should complete POL 101 and 201 within your first four terms and POL 300 during your fourth or fifth term.
- After completing the prerequisite courses, you must complete 24 hours of upper-division political science courses.
- You are required to complete at least one course at the 300 level or above in each of the five fields--American politics, political theory, public policy, comparative politics, and international relations.
- Students must complete a 3-credit political science capstone course.
- Students must complete 9 credits of upper-level political science courses in addition to the course taken to fulfill the requirements listed above.
- POL 101 is the prerequisite for all upper-division courses.
- Junior or senior standing is a prerequisite for most 400-level courses.
- Students are advised to complete required classes as soon as possible to prevent schedule conflicts. Those who ignore this advice may have difficulties completing their concentration requirements as they planned.
Students may choose to use their elective courses to earn a concentration within one of 6 subfields of political science--public law, public administration, public policy, political theory, state and local politics, international or comparative politics.
A minor in political science consists of 12 hours of upper-level credits in political science, including POL 300.
Understanding Political Systems: Knowledge of the functioning of key political systems including local, state, national or international institutions or organizations working outside of government.
Understanding Political Concepts and Theories: Knowledge of key historical or contemporary concepts and theories in political science.
- Critical Thinking Skills: Ability to analyze and critically evaluate political issues and phenomena based on underlying arguments, assumptions, and evidence.
- Political Analysis Skills: Ability to use quantitative or qualitative analysis skills in interpreting and analyzing political data, indicators, trends, cases, etc.
- Reading and Writing Skills: Ability to read and comprehend political science texts and write clear logical prose.
- Political Engagement: Understand the theoretical or practical value of active participation in local, state, national, or global citizenship, along with its potential consequences; or realize one’s own competence or efficacy in the political sphere.
Internship, Co-op, and Research Opportunities
Internships & Internship Scholarship Information
Political Science offers undergraduate students from across the University two unique opportunities to gain in-depth, first-hand experience in the world of government and politics while also earning credits that can be applied towards their degree. The Public Affairs Internship provides a range of opportunities to work in government in the United States. The Ottawa Internship Program provides first-hand experience with the House of Commons in Ottawa, Canada. Master of Public Administration students also have the opportunity to serve in administrative internships with governmental and nonprofit entities throughout the region.
Helen Mataya Graves Political Science Internship Scholarship
The purpose of this award is to recognize academic achievements of UM-Dearborn students, and to support, through tuition stipend, the participation in off-campus non-paid political internship experiences which enhance the students' educational and career objectives. This scholarship is intended to support those internship programs which are non-paid and which yield university credit. The scholarship funds awarded will be applied toward tuition costs for the political internship course. Applicants must have achieved sophomore standing (25 credit hours), and be enrolled in an political internship for the term in which he/she is applying. Students interested in applying should contact the Office of Financial Aid.
Research Opportunities & Research Scholarship Information
Political science faculty are actively engaged in research in a wide array of issues related to politics, public administration, and public policy. Students interested in pursuing research in these areas should contact a member of the political science faculty to discuss for-credit and not-for-credit research opportunities.
The political science faculty support student participation in the annual Meeting of the Minds, which provides undergraduate students and faculty at UM-Dearborn, UM-Flint and Oakland University the opportunity to come together to present and discuss their research. Undergraduate and graduate students also have the opportunity to serve in research positions with the Institute for Local Government (IFLG).
In addition to these research opportunities, the political science faculty annually recognize exceptional political science students through the Political Science Honors Scholar Award and Dr. John Dempsey Memorial Scholarship.
The Dempsey Memorial scholarship was established in memory of Dr. Dempsey, a former professor of political science at UM-Dearborn who also served as Director of Budget for the State of Michigan and Director of the Michigan Department of Social Services. Applicants must have completed a minimum of 60 credit hours and be enrolled full-time (12 credits) in a political science program. Students interested in competing for the Dempsey Scholarship should indicate this on their financial aid application.
Student Clubs & Organizations
Political Science students may also be interested in other clubs and organizations in Social Sciences, throughout CASL, and across campus.
Pi Sigma Alpha
Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, is the only honor society for college students of political science and government in the United States. Pi Sigma Alpha is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) and is designated as a "Specialized, Upper-Division" society by ACHS. The almost 700 local chapters of Pi Sigma Alpha promote worthwhile curricular and extracurricular activities related to political science (e.g. conferences, seminars, research, discussion groups, study groups, etc.) to stimulate scholarship and intelligent interest in political science
The eligibility requirements for Pi Sigma Alpha are:
1) Junior or senior status.
2) Completion of at least 10 credit hours of political science, including completion of at least one course at the 300-level or higher. Transfer students must have completed at least two 300-level or higher courses at UM-Dearborn.
3) A minimum 3.5 GPA overall.
4) A minimum 3.7 GPA in political science courses.
5) Maintenance of these GPA standards and maintenance of general scholarship to place students within the top 20% of their class.
Political Science Club
The Political Science Club is a non-partisan group of students interested in discussing, exploring, and building experience and knowledge in politics and public policy. The group meets regularly to discuss current issues of relevance in the political world. It also hosts guest speakers and other events that contribute to a better understanding of policy and politics. Membership is open to all students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Public Affairs Alumni Advisory Affiliate
The Public Affairs Alumni Advisory Affiliate (PAAAA) of the University of Michigan-Dearborn Alumni Society is an organization of alumni from the Masters of Public Administration (MPA) and Master of Public Policy (MPP) programs. The PAAAA seeks to provide a permanent feedback and advising mechanism to the faculty and administrators of the MPA and MPP graduate programs; offer guidance, advice, and mentoring to students currently enrolled in these programs; promote awareness of MPA and MPP programs; and maintain a network of alumni professionals that will be able to provide insight, knowledge, and recommendations to a wide range of career gateways and opportunities to emerging graduate candidates.
Student Services & Facilities
Political science is housed in the Social Sciences Building (SSB), which has several areas available for students to gather, network, and study. Lounge areas with televisions streaming CNN and other news stations are available on the first and second floors. Full vending facilities and an outdoor picnic area are available on the first floor.
Wireless internet access is available throughout the building, a full computer lab and stand-alone hard-wired computers with internet access are available on the first floor, along with student password reset stations. SSB contains three large lecture halls that host classes, as well as high-profile guest speakers and symposia. Fully-wired classrooms with projection systems are located throughout the building.
Political science faculty are available to meet with students in their offices on the first and second floors of SSB. The Social Sciences conference room, adjacent to the Social Sciences Department’s administrative office on the 2nd floor of SSB, is available for university-related student meetings, upon approval. The Social Sciences office is also where students can access key personnel involved with political science internships.