Button Menu

Political Science

Topics of interest to political scientists include how governments function and should function; differences and similarities among the approximately 200 national political systems in the world; relations between and among the nations of the world as well as the role of nongovernmental actors in these relations; and ways of better understanding such phenomena as authority, conflict, legitimacy, political parties, elections, interest groups, international organizations, coup d'etats, and executive, legislative and judicial decision-making. The department offers both a major and a minor in Political Science. In the political science department at DePauw, as in virtually every political science department in the United States, a disproportionate number of courses treat the American political system. But there are also courses on political systems in other countries and regions (Europe,the Middle East,China, India, and the Third World more generally), on relations among and between nations, and on issues and questions that transcend the politics of any particular place. Many Political Science students enhance their understanding of politics through relevant off-campus experiences, including internships in various government offices, participation in election campaigns, Winter Term travel, and studying overseas or in Washington for a semester. Political Science majors and minors have gone on to successful careers in elected and appointed government positions, journalism, business, research, teaching, and law. Students wishing to count courses taken off campus toward a major or minor in political science must have prior approval from their academic advisor and the chair of the department. It is not recommended that courses substituting for POLS 110, 130, 150 or 170 be taken off-campus.

Course Catalog

Requirements for a major

Political Science

Total courses required Nine
Core courses 6 total. Must complete three of four subfield introductory courses (POLS 110, POLS 130, POLS 150, POLS 170), a course from any level in the other subfield, POLS 318 and POLS 450.
Other required courses
Number 300 and 400 level courses Three (including POLS 450)
Senior requirement and capstone experience The senior requirement consists of the completion of POLS 450 with a grade of C or better.
Additional information

POLS 156 cannot be counted as credit for a political science major.

Recent changes in major POLS 318, Research Design and Writing in Political Science was added as a requirement for the major, effective Fall 2014.
Writing in the Major POLS 318, Research Design and Writing in Political Science, required of all majors, fulfills the writing in the major requirement. The course provides an overview of some of the quantitative and qualitative research methods political scientists use to draw conclusions about the political world. It also teaches students the writing skills specific to political science. By the end of the course, it is expected that students would have learned how to find an interesting topic and pose a research question; how to obtain and analyze data (qualitative or quantitative); how to read and think critically and use various methods of inquiry (theoretical, historical, comparative, behavioral, and post-behavioral); and how to formulate a thesis statement and write a scholarly literature review. Students are required to (1) write a series of short essays that engage with a variety of research tools and methods (argument, critique, textual analysis, content analysis, discourse analysis, participant-observation method, interviews, etc.); (2) engage in peer review exercise, and (3) write a literature review, a research proposal, and/or an analytical or argumentative paper. They receive feedback from the instructor on each assignment and are expected to revise drafts in response to comments received. To satisfy the major's requirement in political science, a student must earn the grade of C or above in the course.

Requirements for a minor

Political Science

Total courses required Five
Core courses Two from POLS 110, POLS 130, POLS 150, POLS 170
Other required courses
Number 300 and 400 level courses One