College of Liberal Arts students study four different subfields when earning their Bachelor of Arts in Political Science degree. Alternatively, students can minor in political science or earn a political economy certificate. Political science majors can also earn a Master in Public Policy degree through the 4+1 MPP program.

Standout students are eligible for Pi Sigma Alpha (the national political science honors society); the political science honors program (which grants Distinction in Major), the Temple University Honors Program and special research opportunities from CLA and Temple, including the Diamond Research Scholarship and CARAS award.

Our undergraduate division assists students in all aspects of study. The Undergraduate Chair manages all points of student contact and oversees curricular, organizational, and honors issues. The Academic Advisor (Dr. Nicolaos Catsis) assists in course selection and transfer credits. The Internship/Career Coordinator (Erin Dwyer) advises students on internship opportunities and post-graduate planning.

Learn Diverse Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to Studying Political Science

College of Liberal Arts students can pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science, a minor that can be paired with any other program of study and/or a certificate in political economy. Political science faculty conduct research in these areas and offer classes related to their research specialties and current issues and controversies. The political science BA program gives students a broad education in politics and government institutions. Our courses sharpen analytical thinking skills and challenge students to critically evaluate the rights and responsibilities of citizens living in a democracy.

The political science discipline has four distinct subfields:

  • American Politics focuses on studying of the American political system, including institutions (e.g., Legislative, Executive, Courts, and Bureaucracy) and mass political behavior (e.g., elections, public opinion, and the media).

  • Comparative Politics focuses on studying foreign governments outside of the United States, with an eye to comparing how different political systems affect political outcomes. Topics include the study of political and economic institutions as well as mass political behavior across different contexts.

  • International Relations explores how nation states interact in the global system. Topics include the study of international conflict and the role that international institutions play in shaping nation states’ behavior.

  • Political Theory theoretically evaluates how individuals behave and ought to behave in a collective polity. Political theorists bring precision to fundamental - yet contested - key political concepts, such as freedom, equality, democracy and justice.

image of owls at Research Day on Capitol in Harrisburg

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

Our political science major encompasses eleven courses taken in a general sequence.

First, the major begins with four introductory courses to each subfield – POLS 1101 (American Political System), POLS 1201 (Foreign Governments and Politics), POLS 1301 (International Politics), and POLS 2496 (Introduction to Political Philosophy). POLS 2496 counts as a writing-intensive course.

Second, the major proceeds with students taking POLS 2503 (Evidence and Knowledge), as well as two Research Preparation courses (POLS 3501-3599). These courses focus upon research skills and critical thinking. Students must also take three other upper-level electives (POLS 2000-4999), although up to two of these courses may be substituted by internship credits.

Finally, the major culminates in POLS 4896 (Capstone Seminar), which brings together topical knowledge, research skills, and the learning process into a writing-intensive course to be taken in the final year or semester of study.

Already a major? Here’s your Four-Year Plan to graduate with a Political Science BA!

Minor in Political Science

Want to pair political science with another program of study? Our minor is ideal for students who wish to supplement their outside majors with focused knowledge and exposure to the study of politics. The political science minor encompasses six courses – two introductory classes, and four upper-level electives.

Minor in Public Policy

If you want to learn how to create an impact on major public issues—from gun violence to student debt to poverty to criminal justice and beyond—this is the minor for you. Public Policy minors will discover how governments, policy experts and ordinary citizens can work to improve society’s most vexing challenges. They’ll also learn how to assess policies and evaluate their effectiveness.

The minor is six-courses (18-credits). There are two required courses (PLCY 2103 U.S. Public Policymaking and POLS 3151 Policy Analysis) and four electives, one of which can be filled by an internship. If you’re thinking about a career in the public or nonprofit sector or just want to learn more about how to enhance communities through effective policy, this is the perfect minor to pair with your major. Interested students should contact the Public Policy program office or Erin Dwyer in Political Science.

Certificate in Political Economy

The Department of Political Science and the Department of Economics offer a multi-course interdisciplinary program leading to a Certificate in Political Economy. The program is open to all undergraduates and focuses on the relationship between the political and economic spheres of society. For more information, please contact the program’s coordinators, Dr. Roselyn Hsueh or Dr. Alexandra Guisinger.

4+1 MPP (Master of Public Policy)

The Department of Political Science and the Master of Public Policy (MPP) program offer an accelerated track that enables students to attain their BA in Political Science and an MPP in five years, instead of the customary six. Students apply to the program during their third or fourth year of undergraduate study and begin taking graduate coursework upon entry. The GRE is not necessary, but students must maintain an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.5. For more information, please contact the MPP Director, Dr. Gary Mucciaroni.

Political Science Honors Program (Distinction in Major)

Distinction in Major, also known as the Political Science Honors program, allow exceptional undergraduates to pursue the most rigorous classes and research opportunities. Distinction in Major is an official Temple recognition separate from the University Honors program. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 and pass two honors-designated capstones (POLS 3996 and 4996) with a minimum grade of “B.” Note that POLS 3996 counts as an upper-level elective and writing-intensive course, and POLS 4996 counts as the senior capstone requirement. In special circumstances, honors students may take, in place of one (but no more) of these honors capstones, a regular capstone (POLS 4896) using an approved “honors contract” signed with the instructor.

Students with an eligible GPA (3.5 or higher) are invited every year to participate in this program, which is administered by the undergraduate chair. Learn more about the Political Science Honors Program.

University Honors Program

The University Honors Scholar Program at Temple is not administered by the department, but often selects promising political science majors to join its structured program of elevated study. University Honors students take specialized courses, participate in tailored opportunities, and pursue intensive research projects. To learn more about joining the program, please contact the University Honors Director, Ruth Ost

Note that the University Honors Program is different than the Political Science Honors program. Both grant special recognition from Temple upon graduation, and students can participate in both.

Special Research Opportunities

The College of Liberal Arts and Temple University provide support for students wishing to engage in specialized research and teaching opportunities. These include the Diamond Research Scholars program, the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Research Award (LAURA), the Creative Arts, Research, and Scholarship (CARAS) award, and the Diamond Peer Teachers program. All of these involve pairing talented students with faculty mentors.

Political science majors can also present their research at prestigious Temple-wide conferences such as Global Temple and the Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity. These programs are not administered by the department, but political science faculty serve as mentors for students who wish to apply for these opportunities.

Undergraduate Handbook

Please consult the Undergraduate Handbook for more information on our major, minor and specialized opportunities.