POSC Undergraduate Program

USC’s Political Science undergraduate program offers a systematic study of political institutions and processes. Our students are exposed to normative and empirical political theories, acquire training in analytical thinking and research methods, and become familiar with the diversity of political systems, peoples, cultures, and nationalities. Our program prepares students for careers in government, law, administration, research, public policy, consulting, and related professions.

The POSC curriculum covers the core theories and concepts in political science, providing majors with knowledge of American Politics, Comparative Politics, Law and Public Policy, and Political Theory.  The department also offers minors in several focused fields of study, such as Law and Society; Race, Ethnicity, and Politics; Human Rights; and Applied Politics.

Many POSC students complement their studies at USC with study abroad programs, internships, and programs on state and federal government in Sacramento, CA and Washington, D.C. The Department also offers the multi-semester, award-winning Trial Advocacy Program, preparing participants for law school and other post-graduate education.

Our selective Honors Program provides an outstanding experience of intensive study and research for our best undergraduate students. All of our Honors students are introduced to the rigors of intellectual debates and the challenges and rewards of conducting research. Freshmen and sophomores admitted to the program learn theoretical and methodological approaches to research and social science writing. Junior and senior Honors students formulate and complete an original research project under the close supervision of the Honors Program instructor. Outside of our honors classes, Political Science students have opportunities to develop research projects in independent study classes under the close supervision of a faculty member.

Political Science is also the home of USC's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, which bridges the academic study of political science and the practical world of public policy and electoral politics. POSC and the Unruh Institute offer weekly talks on public affairs, sponsor classes taught by elected officials and practitioners, and help students obtain internships in government and political organizations.

The Political Science department faculty are often honored for their teaching excellence and dedication to students. We are proud to have more winners of USC’s highest teaching honor, the Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching, than any other department on campus.

Learning Objectives for Political Science (POSC)

The Department of Political Science (POSC) has identified the following learning objectives for each student who graduates with a Bachelors of Arts (B.A.) in Political Science:

  1. Substantive knowledge of the core concepts in Political Science and a general knowledge of our four (4) main subfields: American Politics; Comparative Politics; Law and Public Policy; and Political Theory
  2. An understanding of normative political theories and empirical political theories
  3. Basic competence in qualitative and quantitative research methods
  4. A familiarity with diversity, which includes (among other things) race, ethnicity, gender and immigrant status as well as cultures and nationalities other than their own
  5. The development of critical thinking and a refined set of skills in analytical thinking, problem-solving, persuasiveness, and academic writing
  6. Ability to conceive, research and write a major research paper through an upper division course or, for our best students, through our honors sequences (for freshmen and sophomores: POSC 190; for juniors or seniors, POSC 391 and 392)
  7. Learning and practicing the methods and processes of individual research and group research
  8. Familiarity with practical politics and personal experience through internships and various forms of civic engagement
  9. Competence and knowledge to speak about politics in small groups and in larger venues
  10. A three-semester competence in a foreign language
  • Department of Political Science