Mission of the Program
One of the most important questions a student will ask themselves consists of why they have chosen their major. This page can help facilitate in answering that question for those that have decided on or are considering Political Science.
A Political Science Degree from West Virginia State University provides a strong, broadly-based liberal arts education. Students develop critical skills, including the ability to analyze complex social problems, to evaluate concepts of political thought, to collect and consider information of political phenomena, and to apply this information in the context of local, regional, national, and international politics.
Careers in Political Science
The knowledge a student gains from studying political science prepares them for professional employment. Moreover, they learn how to be an informed and enlightened citizen, a citizen who is prepared for engagement with their communities and government. Our graduates presently hold elective offices, work in state and local governments, academic research, and nonprofit organizations. Others work in the area of law, business, and media. Some teach in schools and in higher education.
The American Political Science Association
has many resources for those that are interested in pursuing political science as a major, particularly the career paths one can take with a degree in political science.
The Political Science Program offers three options for Political Science majors:
1. General Political Science Major
The General Political Science curriculum provides basic, thorough coverage of the major areas of study within the discipline of Political Science. These include American government and political institutions, public law and judicial politics, comparative politics, international politics, public policy, political thought, methodology and research and public administration. Courses also examine the intersection of politics with other social institutions such as religion, social groups and media.
The general degree in Political Science prepares students for a variety of careers, including public policy and administration at local, national and international levels. Graduates from our program presently hold elective office, work in state and local government as well as non-profit organizations, and conduct academic research. Many others work in areas of law, business and the media. Some are political consultants on campaigns. For those students seeking a more specialized course of study, the program offers two areas of concentration.
2. Pre-Law Concentration
The Pre-Law Concentration provides a rigorous curriculum focusing on the law and legal studies in order to prepare highly qualified students to pursue a number of careers after college. Most of the graduates will pursue either law school or graduate school for legal studies. However, many students continue their studies in public administration, criminal justice administration, or public policy. An undergraduate curriculum, taken in preparation for law school, should encompass courses that emphasize analytical thinking, cogent writing and confident verbal skills. Moreover, a student should have a profound understanding of the socio-political, historical and economic contexts in which laws are made, broken and interpreted. The program’s Pre-Law concentration provides such a curriculum.
3. Public Administration and Policy Concentration
The Public Administration and Policy Concentration integrates a traditional management-oriented approach with an analytical, problem-solving emphasis to produce a solid foundation that combines links theory with practice. This hybrid, innovative concentration uniquely prepares students with the skills necessary to address the challenges administrators face in the public arena. In order to prepare highly qualified students to pursue many different careers after college, this curriculum cultivates skills that enable individuals to manage and govern the public’s resources effectively, efficiently and ethically; the program is designed to teach students the business of government. Most of the graduates will pursue either graduate school in public administration or research and policy analysis.
Learning outside of the classroom is a feature of study in the Political Science Program. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in internships and/or field work. The program manages three internship programs with the State of West Virginia – the Judith A. Herndon Fellowship, the Frasure-Singleton Internship, and an internship with the Higher Education Policy Commission. In addition, the program is active in internships like the W.Va. Governor’s Internship Program, and the program provides opportunities to volunteer with political campaigns, political parties and civic groups.
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
120 hours required for graduation
General Education - 35 - 40 Hours
Cognates (All Political Science Majors) - 18 Hours
- PSYC 200 – Statistics for the Social Sciences
- Six hours of the same Modern Foreign Language
- ECON 201 or 202
- HIST 207or 208
- ENGL 112, 201, or 204
Core Courses (All Political Science Majors) - 17 Hours
- POSC 100, 101, 205, 225, 311 and either POSC 400 or 497
- Completion of one of the categories below:
1. General Political Science Major - 27 Hours
2. Pre-Law Concentration - 21 Hours
- POSC 204 and 210
- 15 additional credit hours of 300 or 400 level Political
- Sciences courses (with faculty approval)
- Six hours of the same Modern Foreign Language
- POSC 204 or 210
- POSC 305, 319 and 320
- Choose one course from each of the following two groups plus one additional course from either group:
- Group A: POSC 304, 402, 408, 410 and 415
- Group B: POSC 306, 403, 404 and 405
3. Public Administration and Policy Concentration - 27 Hours
- POSC 204
- POSC 306, 307 and 405
- BA 301, 310 and 320
- Six additional credit hours of 300 or 400 level Political Sciences courses (with faculty approval)
Electives - to bring total credit hours to 120
- Up to six hours in Cooperative Education may be earned in major-related work.
- Up to 12 credit hours of the following courses may be double-counted as General Education courses:
- POSC 100; Introduction to Government and Politics (three hours) to satisfy the requirement for Social Structures
- POSC 101: American Government (three hours) to satisfy the requirement for American Traditions
- GED courses in approved Modern Foreign Languages (six hours)
Minor in Political Science - 15 Credit Hours
POSC 100; 101; 204 or 210; and six hours from any 300 or 400 level Political Science course.
Note: All courses are three credit hours unless noted otherwise.
POSC 100. Introduction to Government and Politics
Examination of the fundamental political and legal systems of national and international communities. Prerequisite(s): Eligible for English 101.
POSC 101. American Government
The organization and nature of the federal political system, with special emphasis placed on the U.S. Constitution. The role of non-governmental actors (political parties, interest groups and the media) is also analyzed. Prerequisite(s): Eligible for English 101.
POSC 101H American National Government - Honors
The organization and nature of the federal political system, with special emphasis placed on the U.S. Constitution. The role of non-governmental actors (political parties, interest groups and the media) is also analyzed. A 15-page research paper is required, in addition to traditional requirements for this course, for honors students. Prerequisite(s): Acceptance into the Honors Program and eligibility for ENGL 101.
POSC 204. State and Local Politics
Politics and policy at the state and local level in the American political system. Areas for study include constitutional, cultural and financial constraints on state and local politics; community power structures; state legislatures; governors and other elected executives; and judicial institutions. Prerequisite(s): Pass ENGL 102 with C.
POSC 205 Political Science as a Profession (2 credits)
This course is designed to help political science students navigate through the process of after-college decisions. This includes the difficult decision of whether to go onto graduate school or to enter the workforce. The course will provide guidance to students who are pursuing either goal or to students who are unsure as of what to do. The course will begin with addressing the literature that discusses such decisions and the consequences and ramifications of either choice. We will then address the tools that facilitate in a student’s decision to attend graduate school or enter the workforce. These topics include resume and cover-letter preparation, interview skills and graduate school application procedures and practices as well as how to handle graduate school once the student is there. Prerequisite(s): Faculty approval.
POSC 210. International Relations
An introduction to international politics in the late 20th
century. The course covers historical developments altering power relationships among nation-states in foreign policy, the interaction of developed and non-developed nations and problems confronting international organizations and transnational actors. Prerequisite(s): Pass ENGL 102 with C.
POSC 225. Strategic Decision making in the Social Sciences
This course is an introduction to formal and informal models of decision-making and logic, with an emphasis on evaluating multiple courses of action and the consideration of possible outcomes. The analysis and application of decision-making are addressed through an examination of decision theory and game theory. Prerequisite(s): ENGL 102 with a C or better and either POSC 100 or POSC 101
POSC 302. American Foreign Policy
This course investigates the ideological and institutional setting of American foreign policy through a series of selected case studies. Emphasis is given to concepts and resources that enable students to understand foreign policy issues. Prerequisite(s): POSC 101 or 210.
POSC 304. Comparative Politics
A comparative analysis of the political culture, ideologies, processes and institutions of the Russian Federation, Britain, France, Germany, Japan and China. This course should familiarize the student with the predominant influences on these particular political systems, and further develop the student’s ability to assess the significance of the roles played by these major nation-states. Prerequisite(s): POSC 100 or 101 or 210.
POSC 305. The American Congress
An examination of the origin, organizations, operation and political characteristics of Congress; focusing on problems of representation, leadership, relations with interest groups and other branches of government, and public policy formation. Prerequisite(s): POSC 101.
POSC 306. The American Presidency
An examination of the institution of the presidency, its functions, formal and informal relationships with other branches of government. The course also examines recurrent problems and limitations of the office. Emphasis is on the dynamics of the office: on the influence exerted by certain presidents, and on the impact of public opinion and the media. Prerequisite(s): POSC 101.
POSC 307. Introduction to Public Administration
This course provides the student with an understanding of the major public administration theories influencing the discipline, the role of the public bureaucracy in American society, and the interplay of politics and administration at the national, state, and local levels. Prerequisite(s): POSC 101.
POSC 308. International Political Economy
This course analyzes the interplay between states and markets in the global arena, with emphasis upon economic tools employed by modern states to address issues arising from international trade, monetary relations and other foreign policy goals. Prerequisite(s): POSC 210 or permission of the instructor.
POSC 311. Methodology and Research
Introduction to the concepts and methods of social science research: the role of theory in research, forming hypotheses and questions, identifying variables and gathering and analyzing statistical data. Emphasis will be on developing good writing skills and using computers for basic statistical evaluation. This course meets the requirements of CJ 315 and SOC 311. Prerequisite(s): Junior classification and a grade of C in ENGL 102 and contemporaneous enrollment in PSYC 200 or completion of PSYC 200 with a grade of C.
POSC 321. Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties
This study begins with an introduction to principles of constitutional interpretation, then examines the politics of both the development and the impact of constitutional law addressing civil rights and civil liberties. Moreover, the course will address the powers and structure of government and the impact of the developments on political, economic, and social life. Prerequisite(s): POSC 101 and a grade of C in ENGL 102.
POSC 330 Judicial Systems and Policy-Making
This course will analyze the political nature of the American Judicial System. It will examine the organization, procedures of the federal court system, and the politics of judicial selection as well as the implementation and impact of judicial policymaking in a political and social context. Prerequisite(s): POSC 101 and ENGL 102 with a C.
POSC 335 Politics and Religion in America
This course address the intersection of religion and politics in American political affairs and policy development. Students will study the civil liberties that protect religious freedom from government interference and review the developments in constitutional law based on those liberties. The course will also consider religious organizations and individuals that act as interest groups and evaluate their influence on public policy. Prerequisite(s): POSC 101 and ENGL 102 with a C.
POSC 399. Special Topics (1-3 credit hours)
Independent work on a special topic or problem area with guidance from a member of the political science faculty. Prerequisite(s): POSC 100 or POSC 101.
POSC 400. Senior Capstone Experience
In this senior capstone experience, students will apply the knowledge and skills developed through previous coursework. In conjunction with a member of the Political Science faculty, each student will select a project and complete either basic research, applied research, field work, or a service learning project. The experience will culminate with the completion of a written work and, if appropriate, a presentation.
POSC 402. Modern Political Thinkers
A critical analysis and tracing of influences of the major political theorists from Hobbes, Locke or Rousseau through Lenin. Cross-listed with Philosophy 402. Prerequisite(s): POSC 100 and ENGL 102 with a C.
POSC 403. Electoral Politics
Organization, functions and practices of political parties in the United States, electoral problems, practical impact of the media, pressure groups and current electoral legislation. Prerequisite(s): POSC 101.
POSC 405. Politics and Public Policy
An analysis of the policymaking process with emphasis on the various factors influencing the content and consequences of public policy and an examination of specific issues. Prerequisite(s): POSC 101.
POSC 408. American Political Thought
This course introduces students to the multitude of ideas that serve as the basis for political discourse in the United States today, with emphasis upon the variety of political perspectives that have obtained significance in different historical periods and their relevance for contemporary political thought.
Prerequisite(s): POSC 101, 402, or permission of the instructor.
POSC 410. Comparative Politics: Latin America and Africa
An examination of the political institutions and processes in selected Third World countries, including, at the instructor’s discretion: Latin America, the Middle East or the Far East. Prerequisite(s): POSC 100, 101or 210.
POSC 415. Comparative Politics: Arab Middle East
An analysis of Arab politics and culture in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. Emphasis is given to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its implications for the region. Prerequisite(s): POSC 100, 101, or 210.
POSC 420. Politics of Race in America
Analysis of racial politics in the United States, with special attention given to historical shaping of the political culture, the civil rights movement, electoral college and current controversies over racial elements implicit in public policies. Prerequisite(s): POSC 100, 101 or 210 with grade of C.
POSC 430. Empirical Analysis
The course will expose the student to an advanced role of theory in research, forming hypotheses and research questions, identifying variables, and gathering and analyzing statistical data. Students will undertake a practical opportunity to apply basic research methods to a problem or question in the field of political science by synthesizing all of their coursework and extant academic preparation into a final research project. The student will utilize theory and the statistical methodology as well as policy analysis, ethics and writing skills to produce a piece of original research. Prerequisite(s): Faculty Approval.
POSC 497. Internship (3-12 credit hours)
For political science majors and students in other majors who qualify to participate in one of the various internship opportunities offered through the university. It may be taken for a maximum of three credit hours, unless it is the Judith Herndon Fellowship or the Higher Education Fellowship for 12 credit hours or some comparably competitive and demanding fellowship for a maximum of six credit hours. Only six earned internship credits can be applied towards upper-division requirements in political science.Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor.
The internship potentialities are vast for graduates of the Political Science program, particularly given WVSU’s proximity to the WV State Capital.
The Political Science department can assist you in applying for the chance to intern at the WV State Legislature. There is no better way to fully understand political science than to see it manifested in the real world. Participating in the Legislative internship will allow you to view the policy process in action, to comprehend how legislation is actually accomplished. We maintain that you will obtain a comprehensive understanding of government, simply by participating in it. Particularly, you will gain more knowledge of the full interaction between the educational system and the state government. Such an internship will facilitate in WVSU's Land Grant Mission, namely, serving the public.
Judith A. Herndon Fellowship
The Judith A. Herndon Fellowship is a semester long internship experience. Selected students will be assigned to a member of the West Virginia State Legislature for the 60-day legislative session, where they will research legislation, track legislation, draft bills and perform other duties related to the legislative process. Interns are then assigned to an administrative agency for the duration of the semester.
- Full-time undergraduate students of all majors and disciplines from both public and private institutions of higher learning in West Virginia.
- Completed 60 undergraduate hours
- Achieved grade point average sufficient for admission into the degree program
- Completed course in political science or extensive public affairs experience
The Frasure-Singleton Internship is a one week opportunity to students to observe and participate in the legislative process. Students are assigned to a member of the West Virginia State Legislature and will observe the legislative process up close, participate in the legislative process and assist their legislator with his/her duties.
The Governor's Internship Program
- Full-time sophomores, juniors and seniors of all majors and disciplines from two and four year, public and private institutions of higher learning
- In good academic standing with (at least) one course in government
- GPA is taken into consideration
The Governor's Internship Program is a summer internship experience that lasts between nine and twelve weeks. Interns are placed with a state agency that reflects the interests of the students. This is a paid internship opportunity.
- An applicant must be a currently enrolled student at a West Virginia college or university, or a West Virginia resident attending an accredited college or university elsewhere.
- An applicant must have completed at least one academic year of study at an accredited college or university by July 2016. High School graduates who have taken college courses prior to graduation from High School are NOT eligible.
- An applicant must have a cumulative college/university GPA of 3.0 or greater. NO EXCEPTIONS!
- If an applicant completes their degree and has no intention of returning to school the following semester, they cannot participate in this program. The student can only apply to the GIP program if they have applied to a graduate program and can provide a letter of acceptance. The intent of the GIP is for current students only.