Wilkes University

Political Science, B.A.


Political Science

Total minimum number of credits for a major in Political Science leading to the B.A. degree — 120
Total minimum number of credits for a minor in Political Science — 18
Total minimum number of credits for a minor in Policy Studies — 18

As a traditional liberal arts discipline, students who choose to major in Political Science are broadly trained and so have a wide variety of career options available. Among the most common fields of employment are government, law, education, social services, media, business, and foreign or international service. See the Pre-Law section of this bulletin for information on law school advising and admissions.

Political Science Major

A major in Political Science requires a minimum of 120 hours. These include 43 hours in the University’s General Education Requirements and 44 hours in Political Science. All majors must take the following courses that comprise the Core in Political Science: PS-111, PS-141, PS-151, PS-260, PS-261, PS-265, PS-309 (2 credits), and PS-380, a total of 23 credit hours. Students must then choose an additional 21 credits in Political Science with at least 3 courses (9 credits) at the 300-level or higher.

In Conjunction with the Secondary Education Major or Minor

Students interested in becoming secondary teachers in Political Science should make an appointment with the chairperson of the Education Department or the Coordinator of the Secondary Education Program as early as possible in their course of study to plan their professional studies. These students will declare a major in Political Science and as well as a major or minor in Secondary Education.  The major in Secondary Education must be taken in conjunction with an approved major; it cannot stand alone as a major.  Upon successful completion of the secondary education program, students may become certified in Pennsylvania to teach in grades 7-12 Social Studies.

Students interested in pursuing either the major or the minor in Secondary Education should refer to the Education Department section of this bulletin for complete details of the curriculum and other degree requirements. Students should also consult carefully with their Education program and Political Science program advisors in planning their course of studies.

Total credits required for Secondary Education minor - 40 

Total credits required for Secondary Education major - 47 

Required courses for the major(*) or minor in Secondary Education are as follows:

ED-180 – Educational Psychology - 3 cr.

ED-190 – Effective Teaching with Field Experience - 3 cr.

ED-191 – Integrating Technology into the Classroom - 3 cr.

EDSP-210 – Teaching Students with Special Needs - 3 cr.
ED-220 – Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners - 3 cr.

EDSP-225 – High Incidence Disabilities with Field Experience - 3 cr.
*ED-345 – Assessment - 3 cr.
*ED-375 – Middle Level/Secondary School Methods with Field Experience - 4 cr.

ED-380 – Content Area Literacy - 3 cr.

ED-381 – Teaching Methods in Social Studies (with Field Experience) - 4 cr.
EDSP-388 – Inclusionary Practices (taken concurrently with ED 390) - 3 cr.
ED-390 – Student Teaching with Seminar - 12 cr.

To be certified in Social Studies, students also need to take
ANT-101 or ANT-102
EC-101 or EC-102
PSY-221 or PSY-222

  • All Teacher Education candidates must apply for admission to the Teacher Education Program in the sophomore or junior year.

  • To be admitted into the Teacher Education Program, candidates must:
    • Attain a 3.0 GPA
    • Complete 48 credits including six credits in both Mathematics and English
    • Pass a test of basic skills
    • Submit required clearances showing ‘no record’
  • To remain in the Teacher Education Program, candidates must:
    • Maintain a 3.0 GPA
    • Adhere to the Code of Professionalism and Academic Honesty
  • To be certified as a teacher in Pennsylvania in grades 7-12, candidates must:
    • Successfully complete all required Education courses, including student teaching
    • Graduate with a 3.0 cumulative GPA
    • Pass the appropriate exit test(s) in their content area
    • Apply for certification through the Pennsylvania Teacher Information Management System (TIMS).

Political Science

PS-111. Introduction to American Government

Credits: 3

How and why does the American federal system work? This course introduces students to the constitutional foundations of the American governmental system and explains how and why the system changed over time to function as it does today. Many examples are employed to illustrate the challenges facing those who occupy elected office and the voters who placed them in office. Students are also introduced to basic social science research methods and how they are applied to the study of American politics. Offered every semester.

PS-141. Introduction to International Relations

Credits: 3

An introduction to the field of international relations. Attention is given to basic theories of international relations as well as the issues and problems that confront contemporary world politics. Factors that determine a nation's foreign policy are also examined. Offered every spring.

PS-151. Introduction to Comparative Politics

Credits: 3

This course is an introduction to the study of the politics and government of selected foreign countries. The course will begin with the examination of the various structures and concepts of government around the world and their regional variations. Progressing from the study of a number of alternative structures of politics and government, the course examines several countries in detail providing a specific introduction to the political structures of a number of countries.

PS-212. Urban Government and Politics

Credits: 3

An examination of the structure and operation of urban governments. Metropolitan politics is also considered. Special attention is given to the politics and policy problems confronting American cities and the political dynamics that complicate solving the problems. Cross listed with SOC-263. Counts as a Criminology elective.

PS-213. Parties and Elections

Credits: 3

Though America's Founding Fathers may have had no love for or willingness to incorporate political parties into the Constitution of 1787, parties emerged anyway over the next twenty years. This course explores the origins and developments of political parties and their essential role in our democratic, representative political system. The ideas on which the parties were founded are examined and the evolution to their current positions is analyzed. Many examples of parties and elections at the federal, state and local levels of government are used. Offered every fall semester even years.

PS-221. Introduction to Public Administration

Credits: 3

An introduction to the principles and problems of public administration in an increasingly complex society. Topic such as leadership, informal organizational processes, the relationship of administration to its cultural context, and the question of administrative responsibilities are examined as well as public finance, human resources, ethics, management and administrative law.

PS-224. Public Policy Analysis

Credits: 3

This course is an introduction to the study of public policy at the national level. It examines approaches to public policy and the operation of the 'policy process.' A range of public policy examples is employed, from social welfare to energy and environment to foreign and defense issues.

PS-226. Environmental Policy

PS-232. Criminal Law

Credits: 3

An introduction to the study of criminal law. The principles of criminal law are presented using the case method. The structure and operation of the criminal justice system are also reviewed. Offered every fall.


PS-233. Law and Society

Credits: 3

An introduction to the study of law and its role in social and political systems. Attention is given to theories of law and to the structure of the legal system. Students are given the opportunity to engage in hypothetical dispute resolutions using common law methods. Offered every spring.


PS-242. International Law and Organization

Credits: 3

The study of the nature, application, and sources of international law and how it relates to the evolution of global and regional organizations and alliances, including international non-governmental organizations and other non-state factors.

PS-141 or consent of instructor.

PS-251. European Politics

Credits: 3

Comparison of the development, institutions, problems and prospects of democratic systems is Europe, both west and east. Attention is given to the European Community and its role in the transformation of Europe as well as the development of the former communist states in eastern Europe.

PS-252. The Changing Face of Eastern Europe

Credits: 3
This course examines the theoretical and empirical problems related to the process of transition to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. Topics such as privatization, human rights, transitional justice, security dilemmas and institutional deadlocked are addressed in this course.

PS-255. Political Economy of Coffee

Credits: 3
This course examines the political economic aspects of the production of coffee, principally in Central America. After an examination of the current state of coffee production in the world, this course studies the historic role of coffee in Central America and how it has affected the politics, history, and people of the region.

PS-260. Introduction to Political Thinking

Credits: 3

An introduction to the study of politics through an examination of the crucial issues with which political scientists grapple: justice, equality, freedom, power, and the good life, to name a few. Offered every spring. Cross-listed with PHL-260.

PS-261. Research Methods in Political Science

Credits: 3

A survey of the major concepts, theories and methods of political science as a discipline. Preparation of a research design and a review of quantitative methods also included. Offered every fall.

PS-262. American Political Thought

Credits: 3

The study of the political ideas, ideals, and ideologies that contributed to and developed from the American experience. An analysis of the ideas that underlie America’s political institutions and practices. Cross listed with PHL-236. May not be used to meet Area I requirements of the General Education Curriculum.

PS-265. Quantitative Reasoning for the Social Sciences

Credits: 3

This course is an introduction to quantitative analysis for the social sciences using SPSS, one of the most frequently and widely used statistical packages in the world. Students will learn how to enter and manipulate data in SPSS, apply and interpret statistics from descriptive through multiple regression, and test hypotheses using statistical methods. Cross listed with SOC-370.

PS-111 or 141, PS-261 or SOC-371, or approval of instructor.

PS-309. Career Mentoring for the Social Sciences

Credits: 2

This course will offer career guidance for students in the Behavioral and Social Sciences. The course will include topics such as mentoring, networking, résumés and interviewing skills. Course credits will not count towards minor credits. Open only to majors in the social and behavioral sciences.

PS-111, junior standing. Course will be cross-listed with PSY and SOC-309

PS-311. The American Presidency

Credits: 3

An exploration and analysis of the development of the American President as political leader, chief executive, and world leader as well as the origins and growth of the institutional presidency. Special attention is given to the selection process and its effect on the Presidency. Offered in the fall semester in odd years.

PS-111 or consent of the instructor.

PS-312. The US Congress

Credits: 3

Congress is often referred to as "the People's Branch" of government because voters now directly elect members of both houses, which is different than the other two branches. Yet Congress regularly is held in low esteem by the public. This course explores the constitutional basis of Congress: how it is elected, its powers and its role in a system of separate branches with checks and balances. It also traces Congress's historical development and explains how and why it functions today. Multiple case studies are used to illustrate important points, and a congressional simulation is conducted at the semester's end in which students assume the role of a newly elected member of the House. Offered every spring semester in even years.

PS-111 or consent of the instructor.

PS-331. The Constitution and the Federal System

Credits: 3
The study of the meaning of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Analysis of the powers of the three branches of government and of the relations between the states and the federal government. Offered in the spring semester in even years.
PS-111, PS-233, or consent of the instructor.

PS-332. Civil Rights and Liberties

Credits: 3

The study of the growth and change of the American Constitution through analyses of the landmark decisions regarding free speech and press, separation of church and state, rights of persons accused of crimes, equal protection of the laws, voting rights. Offered in the fall semester in even years.

PS-111, PS-233, or consent of the instructor.

PS-341. Model United Nations

Credits: 3
This course is a comprehensive examination of the role of the United Nations in the world, culminating in the Model United Nations conference in New York. The course will prepare students to participate in the conference by teaching them the structures and functions of the UN as well as the history and viewpoints of the assigned country.

PS-345. American National Security Policy

Credits: 3

This course analyzes U.S. National Security Policy, the combination of foreign and defense policies. Using theories of international politics and foreign policy, students learn about the evolution of U.S. national security from the War of Independence to the contemporary period. Theoretical approaches, such as geopolitics, balance of power, and force doctrines, are examined. The agencies and personnel that develop and implement security policy are also studied.

PS-141 or permission of the instructor.

PS-350. Comparative Politics: Theory and Analysis

Credits: 3

This course is an introduction to the study of politics and governments from a comparative perspective. It is not a survey course of the governmental institutions of particular countries, but rather an examination of types of governments and regimes, the transitions that may occur between types of government, and approaches to studying these topics. The course examines the ways that ethnicity and cultural ideas affect governments and regime transition.

Sophomore standing.

PS-354. Ecotourism Development in Costa Rica

Credits: 3

As an international service-learning course, this class will work with a selected community in Costa Rica on their ecotourism development plan. Students will assist this community with a variety of tasks including an ecotourism business plan, sustainability projects and other tasks determined by our community partner. The course will begin with an examination of the public policy and economic aspects of the development of ecotourism in Costa Rica and how it can benefit our community partner. The second portion of the course will provide an intensive in-country experience with ecotourism stakeholders from both the public and private sector. Students will design and implement a number of projects in Costa Rica to assist the community in the development of its ecotourism industry. The final segment of the course will examine the effects of the service projects completed in Costa Rica on campus.

PS-380. Political Science Senior Project

Credits: 3

This course is the capstone experience for Political Science majors. During the semester, the student completes the research project begun during PS-261 (that is, data and information are gathered and analyzed), and the results written in a formal paper. Students present their findings in a public forum where the department’s faculty and students are present. Offered every semester.

Senior standing, PS-261 and PS-265

PS-394. Practicum

Credits: 1-3
No course prerequisites, but the permission of the instructor or faculty member is required in advance.

PS-399. Cooperative Education

Credits: 1-6

Professional cooperative education placement in a private or public organization related to the student’s academic objectives and career goals. In addition to their work experience, students are required to submit weekly reaction papers and an academic project to a Faculty Coordinator in the student’s discipline. (See the Cooperative Education section of this bulletin for placement procedures.)

Sophomore standing, minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA, consent of academic advisor, and approval of placement by the department chairperson.