Bachelor of Science in Political Science

Bachelor of Science in Political Science

Shape the Future of Society

Government shapes almost every aspect of our society. As a political science major at Clarkson University, you'll learn how we can shape our government.

Because, after all, government doesn't happen by itself — it's a system designed and built by people. Political science helps you understand how those systems are built, who acquires power and how that power is used.

In this program, you'll learn the basics of political theory while studying how public policy affects real people. Political science gives you a lens to understand almost all aspects of our society, from the economy to the environment.

Take your own seat at the table with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Clarkson University.

Why Major in Political Science at Clarkson?

Each program in Clarkson's Department of Humanities and Social Sciences takes you beyond theory. As a political science major, you'll apply the concepts you learn in textbooks to real-world events.

A Clarkson degree emphasizes practical experience. Chalk that up to the engineering in our blood: pragmatic outcomes count for a lot here. Clarkson's political science program is unique because you'll declare a professional concentration in a topic like business, data analytics, communication, pre-law or another area along with your political science major. So when you graduate, you'll have the knowledge and skills to jump into your first job.

But, your classes will also sharpen your ability to communicate, solve problems, work in a team and do in-depth research. Our classes are small and facilitate close interaction with faculty. You will gain transferable skills that will apply to any career that you pursue.

What You'll Learn

As a political science student, you'll have the opportunity to study a broad range of topics. Some of those include:

  • American politics
  • Constitutional law
  • Energy policy
  • Environmental law
  • Environmental political theory
  • Foreign policy
  • Global politics
  • Human rights law and politics
  • Sex, gender and power
  • Social movements in the United States
  • Terror and terrorism

Political Science Core Requirements 

Students are required to complete the following courses:

Humanities and Social Sciences

  • HSS120 Introducing the Liberal Arts (1 credit)
  • HSS480 Major Research Seminar 

Professional Experience

Students are required to complete the following Professional Experience:

HSS480 Major Research Seminar

Political Science Core Electives

Students must complete nine of the following courses:*

  • POL220 American Politics
  • POL362 Human Rights, Law and Politics
  • POL301 Political Theory
  • POL371 Environmental Law
  • POL302 Contemporary Political Theory
  • POL380 (PHIL380) The Law and Bioethics
  • POL320 The American Political Tradition
  • POL390-99 Special Topics in Political Science
  • POL350 (SOC350) International Dev and Soc Change
  • POL391 American Foreign Policy
  • POL351 (SOC351) Globalization
  • POL400 Constitutional Law
  • POL230 Introduction to Global Politics
  • POL(SOC)470/570 Environmental Policy
  • POL260 Introduction to Public Policy
  • POL471/571 Energy Policy
  • POL335/LIT335 Violence and Reconciliation
  • POL372 Biofuel and Farm Policy
  • POL355 Women and Politics
  • POL374 Environmental Political Theory
  • POL370 Close and Contested Elections
  • SS380 Research Methods
  • POL249 Zombie Politics
  • POL388 Terror and Terrorism
  • POL268 Social Movements in the United States
  • POL240 Causes of War
  • POL250 Politics in Cross-National Perspective
  • POL255 Introduction to African Politics

*Of the nine courses taken above, students should include one in American Politics, Political Theory, International and Comparative Politics, and Law and Public Policy.

**Students should work with their academic advisors to find the courses that best fit their interests.

Political Science Electives

Pre-Professional External Field Electives

Students must complete five courses in a pre-professional external field, such as business, communications and media, pre-dentistry, pre-law, pre-medicine, pre-occupational therapy, pre-physician assistant, pre-physical therapy, pre-veterinary, etc. This pre-professional concentration provides students with opportunities to increase career choices while exploring a wide variety of interests through their major.

Knowledge Area/University Course Electives

Students will have at least 21 credit hours available to use toward Knowledge Area and/or University Course electives to satisfy the Clarkson Common Experience requirements.

Free Electives

Students will have approximately 45 credit hours available to use toward courses of their choice.

There's no substitute for experience. Our Career Center can help you land internships in state and national political institutions, nonprofits and other organizations where you can sharpen your skills and build your résumé.

We offer focused opportunities to intern in Washington, D.C., and Albany, including placements in the legislature and relevant policy-making institutions.

Students also have the opportunity to study in the Adirondack Semester, where they will gain valuable multidisciplinary experience and policy skills.

One of the greatest benefits of studying in a close-knit department is the opportunity to work side-by-side with your professors. Clarkson's faculty are both teachers and scholars, conducting research on topics including:

  • Authoritarian regimes
  • Asian security affairs and South Asian security
  • Democratic participation
  • Energy and environmental politics
  • Gender in politics
  • International conflict processes
  • Political behavior
  • U.S. electricity policy

You can work alongside them, getting an in-depth look at the questions that push the field forward.

You can also work with faculty in other departments, participating in interdisciplinary research related to the environment, gender and sexuality, health or business.

See the heart of national politics close up with a semester in Washington, D.C. This program gives you the chance to intern at leading national and international organizations while taking 12 credits of courses at American University.

In the past, students have interned at places including:

  • As legislative aides to members of Congress
  • Greenpeace
  • Homeland Security
  • NBC
  • World Bank

Get a firsthand look at the way New York State government works with a semester-long internship in Albany, New York's capital city. By working with the Assembly, you'll gain a deep understanding of the legislative process, from the origins of policy to the people it affects.

If you take any five courses in one disciplinary area in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, you are eligible for a minor. Students interested in a Political Science minor can take any five political science courses to complete the minor.

"Studying political science at Clarkson has opened more doors for me than I would have ever thought possible. The Humanities and Social Science department has the most knowledgeable, enthusiastic and kind faculty who are passionate about your learning and success (they will absolutely go the extra mile for you in office hours, writing letters of recommendation and sharing potential job and internship opportunities). I was lucky to be able to use my experience as a Clarkson political science major to intern last summer in Anchorage, Alaska, at the Alaska Center: Education Fund through their program Alaska Youth for Environmental Action.  I can’t imagine having a better experience studying Political Science at another university; I’ve enjoyed it so much I’m staying at Clarkson for my master's in Environmental Policy. "

Celia Darling '24, BS in Political Science

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Career Possibilities

A political science degree opens doors to a broad range of careers, including government, public service, business and law. And, the field is growing: according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for political scientists is expected to grow 6 percent by 2031. (These are well-paying careers, with median salaries in the field topping $122,000 a year.)

Some job titles include:

  • Diplomat
  • Domestic and international consulting
  • Foreign affairs specialist
  • Journalist
  • Lawyer
  • Lobbyist
  • Nonprofit administration
  • Policy analyst
  • Teacher

Philosophy of a small school and department

Political Science professor Stephen Bird offers insight into the Social Sciences and Humanities department, specifically the Political Science program. He also touches on experiential learning opportunities — including Clarkson University's unique Adirondack Semester, a multidisciplinary program where students live among the Adirondack mountains while studying public policy, environmental science, anthropology, and more, in search of solutions to a real-world research question

Recent Employers and Graduate Education

Graduates of Clarkson's political science program go on to careers in fields as diverse as local nonprofits, investment banking, consulting and government. Some pursue graduate degrees in law or other areas.

Destinations have included:

  • AllianceBernstein
  • AmeriCorps
  • Antique Boat Museum
  • MIT PhD program
  • The New School in New York City
  • Roger Williams University School of Law
  • Private law firms
  • White Cube

Contact Us

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Phone: 315-268-4365

Interested in learning more about the Bachelor of Science in Political Science? Contact the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences today with your questions.

Take the Next Step

You don't have to watch the government from the sidelines. A political science degree from Clarkson gives you the tools to play a role firsthand. Find out more today.