Political Science Major
BA in Political Science
Political science is the systematic study of politics and government and is widely recognized as one of the core disciplines within the liberal arts curriculum. Student learning outcomes include the development of written and oral communication skills, critical thinking ability, knowledge of fundamental concepts across all subfields of political science, and research skills that can be applied to situations in the classroom and community. The political science major provides a substantive and analytic preparation that can lead to a variety of professions, giving the students access to a vast array of future careers. For instance, this discipline often serves those with an interest in entering politics and government. Political science majors become civic leaders, town managers, city planners, budget specialists, foreign service officers, CIA analysts, FBI agents, policy researchers, and hold a variety of management positions in local, state, national, and international organizations.
Beyond government, a political science degree leads naturally to graduate training, including law school. Similarly, teaching has been a traditional career for many political science students, who have combined their interest for domestic and international issues with a call to service in the community. Many journalists and broadcasters were political science majors. Business has also recognized the analytic and management skills obtained through training in political science. Other rapidly developing fields such as polling, communications, campaign management, consulting, private and public interest group activity, and data analysis also value a political science degree when making hiring decisions. A political science degree, therefore, opens many doors in different professional directions.
The Political Science faculty strongly urges its majors to take courses in economics, history, sociology, and business. Political science majors are especially encouraged to take advantage of the variety of internship opportunities as part of their undergraduate program to help them establish a professional presence in the working community. All political science students are encouraged to undertake at least one year of university-level foreign language study. Additional language study is recommended for those majors with an interest in comparative or international politics and for those considering graduate school.
All students are reminded that, in addition to their meeting departmental requirements for a major leading to a baccalaureate degree, they must also meet the requirements of the school or college involved, as well as the Core curriculum requirements.
Political science courses are normally offered on the following schedule:
- Every semester: POS 101, 104, 203, 205, 290, and internships.
- Yearly: POS 280, 334, 354, 445 and 446.
- Approximately once every two years: POS 102, 120, 245, 256, 261, 262, 310, 315, 333, 335, 349, 352, 355, 361, 370, 374, 390, 392, 393, 405, 406, 410, 463, and 464.
Graduating with Distinction in Political Science
For a B.A. degree in political science with distinction, a student must achieve a 3.7 GPA or higher in courses taken in the major.
The Political Science Program offers students a choice of two tracks: Political Science Track and International Studies Track. Only one track must be completed to earn the B.A. in Political Science. Most majors complete the Political Science Track; however, students who have an especially strong interest in world affairs should consider the International Studies Track. Political Science majors in either track are required to take their capstone in Political Science only, unless they are double majors.
Political Science Track
The minimum number of credits (exclusive of the University’s Core curriculum) required for the Political Science Track: 39.
Students must complete POS 101, POS 104, POS 203, POS 205, and POS 290. Introducing ideas that are fundamental to the discipline, these required courses should be the first priority for students upon entering the major. Students may choose from any of the major’s other offerings to fulfill remaining 24 credit hours, with the requirement that at least 12 credits be completed at or above the 300-level. A grade of C- or better is required to receive credit for POS courses in the Political Science Track. Students in the Political Science Track must attain an overall GPA for courses in the major of 2.0 or better.
International Studies Track
The minimum number of credits (exclusive of the University’s Core curriculum) required for the International Studies Track: 39 + foreign language requirement.
Students in the International Studies Track must attain an overall GPA at USM of 2.5 or better. A grade of C- or better is required to receive credit for any course that fulfills an International Studies Track requirement.
Students in the International Studies Track must complete the following:
Required Courses (15 credits)
HTY 101 Western Civilization I
ECO 101 Introduction to Macroeconomics or ECO 104 The U.S. in the World Economy
POS 104 Introduction to International Relations
POS 203 Introduction to Political Science Research
POS 205 Introduction to Comparative Politics
Political Science Electives (12 credits)
Students must complete at least four internationally-related political science electives from the list below:
POS 245 French Politics and Government
POS 280 Issues Before the United Nations
POS 310 Internet and Politics
POS 333 Theories of Democratization
POS 335 Politics in Western Europe
POS 349 The Middle East in International Politics
POS 374 United States Foreign Policy
POS 380 Topics in POS (dependent on topic)
POS 385 Conflict and Security in Contemporary World Politics
POS 399 Topics in Political Science (dependent on topic)
POS 405 The European Union
POS 406 Research in the European Union
POS 445 – MeMUNC Conference Planners
POS 446 – Global Educators
POS 480 International Affairs Internship
Electives in Other Programs (12 credits)
Students must complete at least four electives from the list of Approved Internationally-Focused Elective Courses, which is available on the Political Science website at usm.maine.edu/pos.
Foreign Language Requirement (variable credits)
In addition to the courses listed above, students in the International Studies Track must achieve proficiency in a foreign language through the intermediate level. This proficiency may be achieved through coursework at USM (i.e. successful completion through FRE 202; GER 202; SPA 202), through transfer credits from another university, through study abroad, or through background (having lived abroad, being a foreign student, etc.)
In all cases of doubt, the final decision as to whether a student has completed the program’s language requirement is determined by a proficiency exam administered by the appropriate faculty member. Students who can show that they have achieved at least intermediate-level proficiency in some language other than English need to take no foreign language courses at USM, although they may do so if they wish.
For the best overall Financial Aid package, submit your USM application and complete your FAFSA by January 15. However, you can apply at any time. Undergraduate applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.