Political Science (B.A., Major and Minor)

We often hear that politics and government are light-years removed from the lives and concerns of real people. Many believe politics is a dirty business and best left for politicians working in places like the county courthouse, the state capital, the White House, and the United Nations.

We here in the Department of Political Science couldn’t disagree more. 

In fact, a major in Political Science will drag this nebulous "political world" into the light of the real world  (They’re actually much closer together than you think). We will explore what politicians and political scientists mean when they use abstract words such as powergovernment, distribution of scarce resourcespolitical culturefreedom, and equality.

We will also help you answer questions like:  How is power in America exercised and distributed?  What are the sources of conflict in society?  Why is there turmoil in the Middle East and what is the role of the United States in that turmoil?  Is war ever justified? What do we really mean when we talk about justice?  Is there a difference between what governments do and what people really want?  How do politics and government in West Virginia compare with that of other states?  What kind of world might we live in when your children are getting ready for college?  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Political Science is a fascinating, in-depth look at your world.

Requirements for a Political Science Minor :

Students wishing to minor in Political Science must complete 15 hours of coursework drawn from any of the courses listed in the major.

Requirements for a Political Science Major:

A major in Political Science requires 36 credit hours.  In addition to fulfilling all of the requirements for both the Core Curriculum and the College of Liberal Arts, there are four components for a Political Science Major.  Students must complete all four components to graduate.

(1) General Requirements  (12 credit hours):

The Department of Political Science believes that certain information, as well as critical thinking and research skills, are important to ALL majors.  Therefore, ALL students must take the following four courses:

  • 104  – American National Government and Politics. Offered every semester.
  • 105  – Fundamentals of Politics. Offered every semester.
  • 211  – Scope and Method in Political Science. Offered only in FALL semesters.  Should be taken sophomore year.
  • 499  – Capstone Experience. PSC 211 is a prerequisite for 499. Should be taken junior or senior year.

Please plan accordingly.

(2) Depth of knowledge requirements/Concentration (9 credit hours):

The Department of Political Science believes that students should explore one area of Political Science in depth.   Students must therefore pick ONE of the subfields listed below and take any THREE courses from it.  This will be your concentration.

(3) Breadth of knowledge requirements (9 credit hours):

The Department of Political Science also believes that students should also have a breadth of knowledge across different topics in Political Science.  Thus, students must take at least ONE course in THREE subfields other than their concentration.

(4)  Major Electives (6 credit hours): 

There are six credit hours left in the major after the requirements above are completed.  Therefore, students must pick two additional three credit courses to round out the major and complete the 36 required PSC credits.  These two courses will be your major electives.


In the Department of Political Science, we currently have 5 subfields or more specialized courses of study.  These courses are usually offered once every two years (with some exceptions).  Please talk to your advisor about when these courses might be offered. You’ll notice that some courses are listed in more than one subfield.  These courses may not be counted more than once to meet the requirements for the major.  For example, PSC 444 (Dictatorship and Democracy) may count in EITHER International & Comparative Politics OR it may count in Constitutional Democracy – not both.

American National, State, and Local Urban Politics

  • 202   American State Government and Politics
  • 301   Urban Government and Politics
  • 307   Public Opinion and Propaganda
  • 376   Black Politics
  • 381   The American Legislative Process
  • 383   The American Executive Process
  • 423   American Foreign Policy
  • 427   Shapers and Definers
  • 436   American Judiciary
  • 440   Power in American Society
  • 442   Politics and Welfare
  • 445   Environmental Politics
  • 446   Politics in History
  • 460   Civil Rights and Liberties
  • 461   Urban Problems and Public Policy
  • 466   Appalachian Politics
  • 484   Constitutional Law

International & Comparative Politics

  • 207   Comparative Politics
  • 209   Fundamentals of International Relations
  • 402   Politics of the Undead
  • 403   War and Pop Culture
  • 405   International Organization
  • 406   International Politics
  • 407   Asian Politics
  • 408   Middle Eastern Politics
  • 409   Western Democratic Politics
  • 410   Post Soviet Politics
  • 411   Latin American Politics
  • 412   International Political Economy
  • 415   International Law
  • 416   Politics of Development
  • 420   Current World and Regional Issues
  • 422   African Political Systems
  • 423   American Foreign Policy
  • 424   Comparative Foreign Policy
  • 428   Islamic Political Ideas and Institutions
  • 429   The Politics of Conflict and Revolution
  • 431   Politics of Global Terrorism
  • 434   Intelligence and Covert Ops
  • 444   Dictatorship and Democracy

Constitutional Democracy

  • 417   Homeland Security and Civil Liberties
  • 418   American Political Thought II: Reconstruction to Present
  • 421   American Political Thought I: Founding to Civil War
  • 427   Shapers and Definers
  • 429   The Politics of Conflict and Revolution
  • 436   The American Judiciary
  • 444   Dictatorship and Democracy
  • 446   Politics in History
  • 460   Civil Rights and Liberties
  • 484   Constitutional Law

Political Theory:

  • 200   Models of Politics
  • 418   American Political Thought II: Reconstruction to Present
  • 419   Women and Political Thought
  • 421   American Political Thought I: Founding to Civil War
  • 425   Ancient and Medieval Political Thought
  • 426   Modern Political Thought
  • 428   Islamic Political Ideas and Institutions
  • 429   The Politics of Conflict and Revolution
  • 430   Political Ideologies
  • 435   Harry Potter and Political Theory
  • 440   Power in American Society
  • 446   Politics in History

Public Administration, Public Policy, & Urban Politics

  • 233   Introduction to Public Policy
  • 311   Issues in Public Policy
  • 333   Introduction to Public Administration
  • 432   Nonprofit Management
  • 433   Public Administration and Policy Development
  • 442   Politics and Welfare
  • 450   Administrative Law
  • 452   Public Personnel Administration
  • 453   Governmental Budgetary Administration
  • 454   Administrative Organization and Behavior
  • 461   Urban Problems and Public Policy

Courses that appear in more than one subfield may not be counted twice.

Additional Credit Hours

Internship Credits

There are many opportunities for internships at Marshall.  Please click here for detailed internship information.  Internship credits will vary.

  • 382   Student Legislative Program (1 credit hour)
  • 489  Seminar in Public Service (3 credit hours)
  • 490  Public Service Internship (6 credit hours)

Selected Topics

From time to time, the Department of Political Science will offer "Selected Topics" courses in various subfields at the 200 and 400 levels.   Often these courses revolve around current events and/or timely topics not covered in regular courses.  Please check each semester’s course schedule for course availability.  Before signing up for one of these courses, please check with your advisor to see which subfield requirement each Selected Topics course fulfills.

  • 280-283  Special Topics (1-4 credit hours)
  • 480-483  Selected Topics  (1-4 credit hours)

Independent Study/Readings in Honors in Political Science

Independent Study/Honors Readings courses are designed with the specific interests of a student and a faculty member in mind.  Students may approach faculty with ideas for these courses.  If the faculty member agrees to direct the course, the student and faculty member will then set up a detailed course of study, including reading list and research/writing schedules.  Most Independent Study/Honors Readings courses include a substantial research paper.

  • 485-488  Independent Study (1-4 credit hours)
  • 495H-496H  Readings for Honors in Political Science (2-4 credit hours)

General Electives

As you fulfill all of your requirements (PSC major, Core, and College of Liberal Arts), you might have some general electives – classes that might not meet any other requirements, but which are necessary for you to obtain the 120 credit hours needed to graduate.  For Political Science majors, recommended electives include Economics (especially 250 and 253); History 205 and 206 (for pre-law students), 230, 231; Accounting 215 and 216 (for pre-law students); Philosophy; Psychology; Sociology; Communications Studies 310; and English 408.