Undergraduates in Political Science will find a program that trains them to think seriously and rigorously about politics and to prepare them for academic, political, research, and professional careers. The Department offers undergraduate students a variety of options: as majors pursuing a Bachelors of Arts degree or as minors in one of many fields of study sponsored by the Department. Our Honors Program provides a unique and outstanding experience for our best undergraduate students.
The Department houses USC's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, which bridges the academic study of political science and the real world of practical politics by sponsoring classes taught by practitioners, student internships, and a variety of special campus-wide programs.
Many members of our faculty have been honored for their teaching excellence and dedication to students, including a number who have been selected as Faculty Fellows of USC's Center for Excellence in Teaching and who have received the University's high teaching honor, the Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching. In fact, our Department has more Associates award winners than any other Department on campus.
We expect our majors to learn the core concepts in Political Science and gain a general knowledge of our four main subfields:American Politics, Comparative Politics, Law and Public Policy, and Political Theory. We expect our majors to cultivate an understanding of normative political theories and empirical political theories. We expect our majors to develop a familiarity with diversity, which includes (among other things) race, ethnicity, gender, and immigrant status as well as cultures and nationalities other than our own.
We expect Political Science majors to exercise and refine a series of skills such as analytical thinking, problem-solving, persuasiveness, and academic writing. We expect them to learn and practice the methods and processes of individual research and group research. We also expect them to be competent, knowledgeable, and articulate when speaking about politics in small groups and in larger venues. Additionally, we would like our majors to become familiar with practical politics and gain some experience in it through internships and various forms of civic engagement.
Finally, we expect our very best students (i.e., our honors students) to do in-depth research and produce first-rate honors theses. Freshmen and sophomores can do this by taking POSC 190a and 190b. Juniors and Seniors can do their thesis research and writing in POSC 391 and 392. Other students have the opportunity to do in-depth research by working as undergraduate research assistants for individual faculty or by taking an independent study class under the supervision of individual faculty.