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Political Science

Political Science offers students a chance to explore the dynamics of control that shape our world, here in America and internationally. What leads people to take political action? Why do political events unfold a certain way? What are the moral and ethical questions that surround politics? These and other vital questions are explored and explained through political theory, using scientific methods to gather evidence to test those theories, and learning to create effective communication to share those results.

Political Science is a dynamic part of WVU’s John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics. Students earning the Bachelor of Arts in Political Science choose an area of emphasis that allows them to focus on the course work that best suits their interests and professional goals. Students may elect to complete a General focus, exploring courses that expose them to the full range of the discipline of Political Science and other social sciences. Or, students may choose an emphasis in American Politics and Policy, Pre-Law and Legal Studies, International Relations or Comparative Politics, and National Security.

Students enrolling in the American Politics and Policy Emphasis take courses that prepare them for work in government, nonprofit organizations, political parties and selected private business. This area emphasizes training in American political institutions, political behavior and selected policy areas (such as environment, civil rights and national security) and statistical techniques.

Students selecting the Legal Studies emphasis are required to take a variety of substantive and skills courses that are recognized as valuable background for the study of law. This specialized curriculum is drawn from several departments, including English, philosophy, statistics, accounting, sociology and anthropology and psychology.

Students choosing this area of emphasis specialize in several main subfields, including international relations, foreign policy analysis, and foreign and comparative governments. This emphasis is one of two options available to students interested in international relations. The Department of Political Science, in cooperation with other departments, offers the interdepartmental major in international studies, which is headed by a faculty member in the Department of Political Science. This major offers an extensive treatment of international affairs from the perspective of a variety of disciplines. The International Relations, Comparative Politics and National Security area of emphasis, on the other hand, is offered exclusively by the department.

Career Profile

Career opportunities for a graduate in Political Science include city manager, lawyer, diplomat, educator, labor relations specialist, political consultant, public recreation director, public health official, urban planner, journalist, law enforcement officer, lobbyist and much more.

Whether selecting a career in public service, criminal justice, government, business or international affairs, students graduate with an impressive and readily adapted skill set. In addition, all of the areas of emphasis in political science are suitable for preparing students for graduate or professional school.

Sample Course Schedules

Wondering what your typical day might be like? We used students’ real course schedules to create these examples.

Freshman Year

CS 101 Intro to Computer Applications POLS 199 Orientation to Political Science COMM 105 Introduction to the Mass Media SPAN 101 Elementary Spanish 1 POLS 102 Introduction to American Government

Senior Year

POLS 300 Empirical Political Analysis POLS 271 History of Political Thought 2 INTS 488 Capstone International Studies POLS 491A Professional Field Experience PR 401 Applied Public Relations

English Proficiency Requirements

All applicants whose first language is not English must provide proof of English language proficiency. WVU accepts either the TOEFL or the IELTS for this purpose. Learn more about our English language proficiency requirements.

Accreditation Information

WVU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Alumni Profiles

Craig Underwood

Craig Underwood is the founder and managing partner of Underwood Partners. He was WVU’s 19th Rhodes Scholar. A native of Charleston, W.Va., he earned a bachelor’s in political science from WVU, a master’s from Oxford, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He was founder/CEO of the Loyalty Group/Air Miles Canada and CEO of Sports Loyalty Systems. He is a founder of Horizons for Homeless Children and Year Up, a workforce development program that trains low-income, inner-city young adults for technology careers and higher education.

Matthew Delligatti

Matthew Delligatti became the youngest mayor ever of Fairmont, W.Va., at age 22. He was a 2007 Truman Scholar, and was invited to the first-ever poetry slam at the White House. After graduating with a degree in political science, he went on to earn a law degree from the WVU College of Law. He says, "WVU opened my eyes to the fact that young people cannot sit back and be dismissive about our future. We can become active participants."

Peter Kalis

Peter Kalis earned a political science degree. He went on to study at Oxford, won a Rhodes Scholarship, and then earned a law degree from Yale. He served as student body president at WVU and was elected Phi Beta Kappa. He is chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates, a firm with more than 1,400 lawyers working in 22 cities on three continents. He served as law clerk to J. Skelly Wright, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and for associate justice Byron R. White of the United States Supreme Court. Peter has published over 50 articles in journals and academic law reviews.

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