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Political Science

Understanding political science means understanding the structures of power and authority that organize our world as well as how and why people try to support or change those systems. By studying political science, you will come to understand why courts make the decisions they do, why legislatures pass the laws they do and why countries make the choices they make in the international arena. Through this study you will hone your communication skills and your critical thinking skills, and you will learn key insights about how to persuade and effectively argue.

How will I focus my studies?

Areas of emphasis

American politics examines questions related to the activities of all the branches of the federal government (legislative, judicial, executive) and the various levels of government (local, state, and federal). 

Comparative politics examines the differences between states. Why do some states achieve high levels of economic growth, while others fall behind? Does the process used to seek justice after conflicts have an influence on whether people think justice was achieved? Why do similar states turn out very differently (and why do different states turn out similarly)?

International politics is about the interactions that states have with each other. From overlooked but critical activity like international trade and finance, to rarer and more violent interactions like war and coercion, this part of political science seeks to understand the forces that cause states to behave like they do to each other.

Political theory examines the moral and ethical questions surrounding politics. What is the best form of government? What is justice? What are the moral reasons for us to prefer democracy to other forms of government? This part of political science has links to philosophy and asks similar questions, just with a directly political focus.


Politics affects everything from business regulation to fights about freedom of expression. A minor in political science can be a valuable addition to any major for any student, regardless of their career paths. Everyone from engineers and scientists to librarians and physicians confronts politics at the local, state and national level. An understanding of how politics works and how you can influence the political system around you is critical to navigating our economy and being a good citizen.

Additionally, minoring in political science can provide a very useful complement to students majoring in related disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, economics, women’s and gender studies, geography, history and sociology. 

Joshua Childs, Morgantown, W.Va.

Major: Political Science

Joshua Childs
Josh has a passion for helping others, specifically improving the health and well-being of the disenfranchised. As he puts it, “there are so many different career paths you can take. You can tailor your experience to your future interests.” He’s proud of the strong writing and research skills he has fine-tuned while working on his degree. “My political science background will help prepare me for the international dynamic of global housing development and improving affordable housing solutions for disadvantaged people.”

Learn more at the Political Science site