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Political Science

 

Major Requirements

As a political science major, you’ll examine a political situation or phenomenon, analyze it from multiple perspectives, and connect it to theory or practical experiences.

Your exposure to a range of concepts and academic skills will prepare you for a career in law, business, or journalism. Bonus? Take your coursework further by double majoring or minoring in related fields like pre-law, economics, or environmental studies and sustainability.

Meet Your Major

In the Political Science program, you will:

  • Analyze a political situation from multiple perspectives and connect it to theoretical paradigms or practical experiences  
  • Explore society’s most vital questions about law, government, and humanity
  • Learn about our political systems, political leaders, government policies, social, and international conflicts
  • Have the opportunity to put your learning into action by pursuing an internship at a state or local government office
  • Hone your academic and critical thinking skills and prepare to become a thoughtful, productive member of society

Hands-On Learning

You’ll have the opportunity to take your skills out of the classroom and into the political arena. Debate constitutional issues against national teams in Moot Court, explore a Public Service internship, or spend a semester your junior year at the American University Washington Semester Program.

Career Options

Upon successful completion of the Political Science program, you’ll be well equipped to pursue a law degree, graduate degree or begin your career in the public or private sector. Our graduates work in business, government, international relations, public administration, academia and more. 

Our graduates work in a variety of positions, including:

  • Analyst, Library of Congress
  • Attorney General, State of Vermont
  • Director, Lowell Planning Board
  • Judicial Law Clerk, New Hampshire Superior Court
  • Legislative Aide, U.S. Congress
  • Mayor, City of Lawrence, Massachusetts
  • Prosecutor, Tewksbury Police Dept.
  • Research Assistant, Citizens for the Constitution
  • Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Resources, Massachusetts
  • State Senator, Massachusetts
  • Systems Analyst, Mass. Dept. of Revenue

What You’ll Take

All Political Science majors take a combination of required and elective course to satisfy the 42-credit requirement.

Required Courses

All Political Science majors must take the following four courses: 

 POL 1100                                                            Politics of United States
 POL 1500 Comparative Politics
 POL 2000(W) Political Science Methods 
 POL 4800           Senior Seminar: Politics and the Political Process 

We recommend that POL 2000(W) Political Science Methods be completed by the end of your sophomore year.

United States Politics

Select at least two courses from the following options:

POL 2010 Political Ethics
POL 2111 State and Local Politics
POL 2120 Government, Business and Society
POL 2121 Intro to Public Administration
POL 2122 Law and Society
POL 2181 American Political Thought
POL 2300 The Politics of Food
POL 3112 Congress and the Legislative Process
POL 3113 American Presidency
POL 3114 Political Parties and Interest Groups
POL 3122 Issues in Public Policy
POL 3130 Campaigns and Elections
POL 3131 Polling and Public Opinion
POL 3140 Mass Media and American Politics
POL 3141 Political Communication
POL 3150 Criminal Law
POL 3151 American Constitutional Law
POL 3152 Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
POL 3160 United States Foreign Policy
POL 3161 The Politics of Immigration and Human Movement
POL 3171 Music and Politics
POL 4199 Women and Politics
International Relations

Select at least two courses from the following options:

POL 2200 Globalization
POL 2510 International Politics 
POL 2581 Intro to Political Theory 
POL 3520 Modern China
POL 3521 Latin American Politics
POL 3523 Japanese Politics
POL 3524 Politics of the Russia and Post-Soviet States 
POL 3525 Politics of the Middle East
POL 3526 Politics of the European Union
POL 3530 Democracy, Development and Violence
POL 3531 Politics of Developing Nations
POL 3540 International Political Economy
POL 3541 Cyber Security
POL 4599(W) Issues and Cases in United States Foreign Policy

Additional Upper Level Courses

To fulfill the 42-credit requirement, you may select your remaining courses from the electives above or you may choose from the following options:

POL 4700 Directed Study
POL 4850(W) Public Service (fall/spring) Internship (8 cr)*
POL 4851  Public Service Summer Internship (4 cr)
POL 4852                                                  Public Service (fall/spring) Internship (4 cr)

*The Public Service Internship (fall or spring) is an 8 credit/2 course equivalent with four credits counting toward Political Science and four toward electives. Students can complete up to 12 internship credits.
 
* POL4700: Directed Study-Moot Court may only be taken twice for credit toward a Political Science major (4 credits max).
** Only two Political Science courses may be double-counted between a Political Science major and a Pre-Law minor

Why should I Major in Political Science?

Political scientists concern themselves with basic questions about law, government, and humanity – questions that confront every society in the world today.   Students who major in Political Science are prepared not only for employment after college, but for life as an informed citizen ready to participate in the activities of domestic and global politics.   

What will I learn?  

You will learn about our political systems, political leaders, government policies, social, and international conflicts, as well as strengthen your analytical, research, and critical thinking skills that prepare you for life after Merrimack.

How many credits or courses do I need to receive a Political Science degree?

The Political Science major consists of 38 credits. 

What are the required courses and do I have to take courses in any particular sequence?

There are four (4) required course; Politics of the United States, Comparative Politics, Political Science Methods, and Senior Seminar.  Students typically take Politics of the United States and POL1500 Comparative Politics before taking upper level courses to fulfill the Major requirements.  Political Science Methods must be complete by sophomore year and Senior Seminar is taken in a senior’s fall semester.  

Can I minor in Political Science?

Yes.  Students can choose to minor in the area of United States Politics or International Relations. The Political Science Minor requires completing a minimum of 18 credits in courses that satisfy the Minor requirement.

I am interested in a career in Law.  Does Merrimack offer Pre-Law?

Yes. The Pre-Law Minor is an interdisciplinary law minor for students who are interested in attending law school, who plan on pursuing legal related careers, or who want to learn more about different areas of the law. The Pre Law Minor requires completing a minimum of 18 credits in courses that satisfy the minor requirement. The requirement consists of two (2) required courses, three (3) electives, and an experiential component. 

How can I get an internship? Do I get academic credit for an internship?

Students majoring in Political Science should consider taking an internship during their undergraduate years to foster academic experiential learning. Internships are offered in the fall, spring, and summer.  Students can create their own internship with the department’s guidance or choose an internship from our database. The Public Service Fall/Spring Internship is an 8 credit/two course equivalent, with 4 credits towards Political Science and 4 credits toward electives.   Students work at least 20 hours per week in the public service field and have a required research paper.  The Summer Public Service Internship is a 4 credit/one course equivalent.  Students can complete up to 12 internship credits; one fall or spring and a summer internship. 

What kinds of opportunities are available outside of the classroom?

Students in the Political Science major have many opportunities to learn beyond the classroom. Some opportunities include:

Public Service Internship

Political Science Majors gain knowledge of politics through work with state and local government offices. For more information, please contact Dr. Harry Wessel at wesslh@merrimack.edu

Washington Semester

Students may study in their junior year at the American University Washington Semester Program. Scholarships are available.  

Model United Nations

Students may represent Merrimack College at the annual Harvard Model United Nations. Delegations for over 50 colleges meet for a four-day conference to discuss world issues.  For more information, please contact Dr. Bilev at bilevg@merrimack.edu

Junior Year / Semester Abroad

Students may apply to one of several university programs

John F. Kennedy Library

Students may attend a number of special events at the Library, including biennial conference on important events in American politics.

What kind of career path could I expect?

Our graduates pursue diverse careers in the field of law, political science, international relations, public policy, business, non profits and communications.  A large number of political student undergraduate students continue their education in law or graduate school. Our graduates have a solid record of graduate and law school acceptances. The faculty offers strong advisement programs in pre-law, public administration, and international relations. 

 

More Info 

Harry Wessel

Associate Professor & Chair, Political Science

978-837-3498
wesselh@merrimack.edu