Political science investigates the institutions, practices, traditions, concepts and rules by which human beings organize their lives and govern themselves.

In the Political Science undergraduate bachelor's degree program, you gain a comprehensive understanding of political institutions, politics in general and the processes of translating values and information into public policy. You'll expand your knowledge of the leading theories and disputes within the subfields of political science with diverse courses. Ultimately, you'll gain an appreciation for the need to participate fully in political life.

Offered through the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Political Science major courses enable students to use empirical analyses and theoretical constructs to understand the political aspects of the world, both in the United States and elsewhere.

Request More Info Apply Now Contact the HSS Dept. Contact Admissions

Political Science Careers

Graduates of our bachelor's degree program in political science can go on to a wide variety of careers that span industries and disciplines, such as lobbyists, lawyers, diplomats or foreign affairs specialists, political scientists, professors and teachers, business executives, consultants and government officials. 

Clarkson Class of 2020 97 percent employment

Clarkson political science majors have gone on to work for companies such as:

  • large government and civil society organizations, such as Americorps
  • Law firms and practices
  • Local non-profits, such as a Chamber of Commerce
  • asset and investment management firms, such as AllianceBernstein

Many political science students also choose to continue their studies at graduate schools such as Roger Williams School of Law.

Political Science Curriculum & Academic Options

Major in Political Science

The political science major has a total of 28 out of the 120 credit hours devoted to program-specific classes. This leaves flexibility to narrow your area of interest with minors, concentrations or double majors. Political science students take courses such as:

  • Intro to Global Politics
  • Politics in Cross-National Perspective
  • Social Movements in the United States
  • Terror and Terrorism
  • Violence and Reconciliation
  • Human Rights Law and Politics
  • Close and Contested Elections
  • Environmental Political Theory
  • Constitutional Law
  • The Law and Bioethics
  • Contemporary Political Theory
  • Sex, Gender and Power
  • Environmental Law
  • The Business of War
Core Requirements

The political science program consists of 28 credit hours in political science. 45 credit hours are in free electives, which is enough to complete a minor or second major if you so choose.

Click here for a sample curriculum schedule

All courses are 3 credits unless noted.

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

Clarkson Common Experience

The following courses are required for all students, irrespective of their program of study. These courses are offered during the fall semester, with FY100 First-Year Seminar being required of only first-year students. Both FY100 and UNIV190 are typically taken during the fall semester of the first year at Clarkson.
FY100 First-Year Seminar (1 credit)
UNIV190 The Clarkson Seminar (3 credits)

Core Electives

Students must complete nine of the following courses:*

Political Science

  • 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.


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.

Double Majors

Political Science majors often choose a second major, and similarly, students majoring in disciplines such as engineering, environmental studies, business or science often choose Political Science as a second major. This gives students the ability to pursue their passion, diversify their knowledge base and a competitive advantage while applying to graduate programs. Below is a sampling of majors that pair well with Political Science.

Biology Major

As an undergraduate biology major, you will take 40 credits specifically within biology. These credits, in conjunction with the Clarkson Common Experience, will provide a well-rounded education focusing on the areas of study you find most interesting. Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in biology can take courses such as:

  • Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine
  • Biological Oceanography
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Molecular and Genome Evolution
  • Pharmacology
Environmental Science & Policy Major

Environmental Science & Policy majors take 60 credits specifically within ES&P. These credits, in conjunction with the Clarkson Common Experience, provide a well-rounded education focusing on the areas of study you find most interesting. ES&P majors take courses such as:

  • Environmental Science & Policy of American Rivers
  • Sustainability & the Environment
  • Adirondack Ecology and Environmental science
  • Social and Political Issues in the Adirondacks
  • Great Lakes Water Protection
  • Where the Wild Things Are: Environmental Philosophy and the Emergence Ecosphere
History Major

In the undergraduate history program, a total of 31 out of the 120 credit hours are devoted to history classes. This leaves flexibility for you to narrow your area of interest with minors, concentrations or double majors.

History majors take courses such as:

  • War and Society
  • Themes and Concepts in Chinese History
  • Modern Sex: Sexualities and Genders in Modern America
  • History of Women and Gender in America
  • Ancient Medicine and Magic
  • War in the Middle Ages
  • The Construction of Nazi Germany
  • Voices of the Past


Students can also pursue our Social Documentation Double Major program, combining a major in Communication with one of our Humanities and Social Sciences, including HistoryHumanitiesInterdisciplinary Liberal StudiesInterdisciplinary Social Sciences, and Political Science.

Relevant Minors & Tracks

In addition to the political science major, the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences also offers a minor in political science for students looking to add to their academic portfolios. Political science majors benefit from a wide variety of minors and advising tracks to complement the major and their future career goals. View our recommendations below or learn more about all of Clarkson's minors, concentrations and professional advising tracks. 

All Clarkson Minors and Tracks

Humanities and Social Sciences Minors

Humanities and social sciences offers minors that consist of a coherent set of five courses beyond The Clarkson Seminar, plus completion of a minor portfolio.

There are three different types of minors: thematicdisciplinary and student-designed minors. These options allow you to focus on areas of interest and to work with faculty across the university.

All humanities and social sciences minors require 15 credit hours as well as a required non-credit minor portfolio. 

Pre-Law Program

What Do You Get With Pre-Law?

In the pre-law advising track at Clarkson, you'll benefit from preparatory courses in business law, communications, literature, history or political science and begin developing traditional legal skills. You will also gain a set of specialized skills that you'll learn through your major that set you apart from other law students — and other lawyers. The path you choose depends upon the kind of law you want to practice. While many generalists handle a variety of legal problems, lawyers frequently specialize in fields like corporate law, international law, tax law, patent and trademark law, securities law, bankruptcy law, criminal law and environmental law.

Law Studies

The minor in law studies is designed for any students interested in studying law, even those who don't plan on attending law school.

Although the minor is beneficial for students who wish to structure their academic program to help prepare for law school, many of our students do not intend to continue on to law school — they simply want to understand law better in order to gain deeper insight into their own field of study. For example, the minor can benefit students interested in human resources management, political science, construction management and supply chain management who want to learn more about the field of law and its many diverse issues and perspectives and how such issues may affect them in their professions. 

Internships & Hands-On Opportunities

As a Clarkson political science major, you'll have the opportunity to perform research alongside distinguished faculty, work with the department and Clarkson's award-winning Career Center to find valuable regional and local internships and co-ops at museums, not-for-profits and other educational organizations, and apply for the Washington D.C. Semester at American University and N.Y. Assembly Internships. 

Research Opportunities

As a student at Clarkson, you have the ability to work with political science faculty on many different research projects. You will also have the opportunity to work with fellow students and professors on cross-campus, interdisciplinary research in the areas of environment, health, gender and sexuality, and business. Currently, political science faculty have research interests in areas such as:

  • Comparative media and politics
  • Latin American politics
  • Authoritarian regimes
  • Energy and environmental politics
  • U.S. electricity policy
  • Democratic participation
  • Political behavior
  • Gender in politics
  • International conflict processes
  • Asian security affairs and South Asian security
Washington D.C. Semester at American University

Clarkson students have the opportunity to apply for the Washington D.C. Semester at American University. As part of this experience, students take 12 university credits worth of classes through American University and participate in an extraordinary array of internships. Clarkson students attending the Washington Semester have interned at:

  • World Bank
  • NBC
  • Greenpeace
  • Homeland Security
  • and as legislative aides to members of Congress
New York State Assembly Internship Program

What better way to understand politics than to be a part of them? The New York State Assembly Internship Program in Albany, N.Y., gives Clarkson political science majors the opportunity to spend a semester interning with the NYS Assembly. This experience allows students to gain critical experience and contribute to the ongoing development of state policy in the Assembly.

What's your purpose? Achieve it here.