Political Science explores how people participate in collective decision making to identify and solve issues of shared public concern. This includes both domestic politics, which examines how the American political system works and how citizens can work together to bring about their desired outcomes, and international politics, which studies how different countries can work together to address issues like global warming, displaced persons, and terrorism. It also asks who is excluded from these processes and how they can be made more inclusive, as well as what constitutes a just society, what equality is, and what it means to be free.

Career Opportunities

Many political science majors or minors are interested in learning more about lawmaking and legal processes, which is good preparation for a legal career, including gaining admission to law school. Others choose to focus their studies on campaigns and elections and become engaged in the melee of modern political campaigns and social movements. All students develop an appreciation of political institutions and processes that help us better understand the functioning of government and the role that individuals play in determining outcomes that shape the future.

  • Activist, Advocate/Organizer
  • Attorney
  • Campaign Operative & Manager
  • City & County Manager
  • Congressional Office/Committee Staffer
  • Research Specialist
  • Legislative Assistant
  • Lobbyist
  • Policy Analyst
  • Pollster
  • Public Affairs Director
  • Public Relations

B.A. degree or B.S. degree

Major Map

This major is also offered via Global Campus/CMU Online.

A political science major consists of 33 hours. A minimum of 15 hours of course work must be at the 300 level or above.

Courses taken on a Credit/No Credit basis may not be counted toward political science majors or political science minors, with the following exceptions: Internships (PSC 395), Practicums (PSC 393 & PSC 394) and lab courses (PSC 355). In the case of these exceptions, no more than three credits total may be applied to the major or minor. Majors and minors in political science should enroll in PSC 105 as freshmen (see course description). Transfer students majoring in political science will be expected to take at least 15 hours of coursework in the department; transfer minors, 12 hours.

It is recommended that all political science majors enroll in PSC 280QR during their sophomore year.

Any regular faculty member in the department can serve as the student’s advisor on a major or minor.

Internships: The department has established an internship program where students are provided relevant firsthand work experience. The duration of an internship can vary depending on the number of credit hours (1-12) taken. Students majoring in political science are allowed to count three internship credit hours toward their major or minor.

Required Courses I (15 hours)

  • PSC 100 (3) Introduction to Political Science 
  • PSC 105 (3) Introduction to American Government and Politics
  • PSC 261 (3) State and Local Government 
  • PSC 275 (3) Great Political Thinkers
  • PSC 280 (3) Introduction to Empirical Methods of Political Research

Required Courses II (3 hours) 

  • PSC 513 (3) Citizen Engagement in Public Life
  • PSC 520 (3) American National Government and Politics
  • PSC 590 Independent Study (1-6)

Required Courses III (15 hours)

Select 15 hours of PSC and/or PAD courses.


Select one of the following certificates:

Undergraduate Certificate - Citizen Engagement

Undergraduate Certificate - Political Advocacy and Elections

Undergraduate Certificate - Lawmaking and Legal Processes

A student earning a certificate must choose courses different than those chosen to fulfill the major required courses. Up to 6 hours of course work from one certificate may be used to fulfill requirements in another certificate in the department. Although the major may be combined with any of the certificates, students pursuing the major in Political Science are advised to consider choosing one from among the list above.

Total: 33 semester hours


  • A minimum of 15 hours of PSC and/or PAD course work must be at the 300 level or above.

Please see the CMU Undergraduate Bulletin.