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 , POS 104 , POS 203 , POS 205 , POS 290 , and internships.
- Yearly: POS 102 , POS 280 , POS 334 , POS 380 , and POS 445 .
- Approximately once every two years: POS 120 , POS 209 , POS 245 , POS 256 , POS 261 , POS 262 , POS 310 , POS 312 , POS 315 , POS 333 , POS 335 , POS 349 , POS 352 , POS 354 , POS 355 , POS 360 , POS 361 , POS 374 , POS 390 , POS 392 , POS 393 , POS 394 , POS 405 , POS 410 , POS 463 , and POS 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 the 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.
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 attain an overall GPA for courses in the major of 2.0 or better.
Students in the International Studies Track must complete the following:
Required Courses (15 credits)
Political Science Electives (12 credits)
Students must complete at least four internationally-related political science electives from the list below:
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. This proficiency may be achieved at USM through successful completion of at least one of the following courses: ARA 202 ; CHI 202 ; FRE 202 ; GER 202 ; ITA 202 ; SPA 202 .
Alternatively, students can demonstrate their foreign language proficiency through transfer credits of equivalent language courses (at the 200 level or higher) from another university or a study abroad program. Any student can choose to demonstrate their proficiency in the language through the successful completion of a Foreign Language Proficiency Exam.
In cases where the USM Linguistics department does not offer the proficiency exam in the foreign language the student wants to test in, the NYU or BYU FLATS proficiency exam can be taken instead to demonstrate proficiency in the foreign language selected by the student. Students need to take the corresponding NYU 12-16 point exam and receive a minimum score of 8 points to receive USM credits in the foreign language at the 200 level. Alternatively, students can take the corresponding BYU FLATS exams for 101, 102 and 201 and need to receive a passing grade in all of them to receive USM credits in the foreign language at the 200 level.
For more information, see: https://usm.maine.edu/prior-learning-assessment/pla-language.
USM Core Requirements
The USM Core Curriculum is a coherent, integrative, and rigorous liberal education that enables our graduates to be world-minded, intentional, life-long learners and captures your general education degree requirements.
Please Note: Core requirements may be part of your major and/or minor, and Core may have been fulfilled with transfer credit. Please consult your MaineStreet Degree Progress Report (DPR) and review your degree progress with your Advisor. For additional information, access the USM Core webpage.