Political Science Major

Political Science (39 credits)

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Required (18 credits):

  • PLS100 - U.S. Government & Politics (3 credits)
    • Provides a foundation for understanding the philosophical heritage, constitutional principles, civil rights and liberties, and the formal and informal institutions that form the U.S. government. Focuses on the political factors and dynamics of democracy, the Constitution, political parties, interest groups, the media, elections, and the branches of U.S. government.
  • PLS141 - Introduction to International Politics (3 credits)
    • Deals with the nation state, interstate relations, and the international political system in the 20thcentury. Attention given to the formulation and execution of foreign policy; political, economic, military, and cultural interactions among states; and the organization and maintenance of the international community.
  • PLS201 - Introduction to Political Science (3 credits)
    • Examines the philosophy behind the discipline of political science and the different fields within political science. Introduces students to political science theories and theory building. Examines political behavior, political structures, decision making, and the foundations of political systems. Provides students the tools to conduct literature reviews, access information, assess political developments, and develop and critique theories and research.
  • PLS300 - Advanced U.S. Government: Institutions & Public Policy (3 credits)
    • In-depth description of the structure, functions, and public policy making involvement of U.S. governmental institutions. Focuses on the legislative, executive, administrative, and judicial institutions and process, the impact of interest groups, political parties, public opinion, and federalism. Examines the policy-making process, both in general and with reference to specific types of public policies. Prerequisite: PLS100.
  • PLS301 - Political Science Research Methods (3 credits)
    • Evaluates the process of research in political science, focusing on research design; discusses ethical issues in research; trains students in techniques of data collection and processing; provides computer-based training in quantitative analysis and interpretation of statistics. Prerequisite:MAT170.
  • PLS399 - Senior Seminar (3 credits)
    • Required senior capstone course.

Students must earn a C or better in each required course

Areas of Concentration (12 credits)

Students must take one course from each of the four areas of concentration.


  • PLS251 - Introduction to Comparative Politics (3 credits)
    • A cross-national study of the principles, forms, and functions of democratic, fascist, and communist governments. Such subjects as political parties and electoral systems, legislative representation, federalism, constitutional order, bureaucracy, and dictatorship are examined in the functional and comparative manner. Prerequisite:PLS100 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS341 - International Law & Organization (3 credits)
    • Analyzes the role and dynamics of international law and organizational political system. Includes the scope and nature of international law and organization, the concepts and procedures for maintaining international peace and security, substantive rules and international law, and the function of the United Nations and regional organizations. Prerequisite: PLS141 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS342 - American Foreign Policy (3 credits)
    • Study of the principles of American foreign policy including process and policy formulation and execution. Roles of the president, Congress, and the State Department and other governmental agencies are investigated. Prerequisite:PLS100 or PLS141 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS356 - Politics of Developing Regions (3 credits)
    • Examines the forces that shaped and continue to impact the governments and politics of the Third World. Emphasizes two lines of inquiry: colonialism and patterns of post-colonial relations between north and south; and the challenges faced by Third World nations in their efforts for political, economic, and social advancement in an increasingly integrated world. Prerequisites: PLS100 or PLS141.
  • PLS357 - Group Mobilization & State Change (3 credits)
    • Comparative analysis of efforts by minority groups in the developing world to mobilize for state change. Analyzes separatist movements based on ethnic, linguistic, racial, religious, and caste identities and political movements whose goal is to change a government’s policy agenda. Focuses on topics such as: ethnonationalism, religious separatism, environmental justice, women's uplift, economic justice, global integration, and human rights. Prerequisite: PLS100.


  • PLS231 - State & Local Government (3 credits)
    • Study of the organization and functions of government at the state, county, township, and city levels. State-local and national-local relations are stressed. Prerequisite: PLS100 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS271 - Introduction to Public Administration
    • Basic introductory course in the field of management in governmental offices; includes organization of executive offices, controls over administration, budgeting and personnel procedures, and methods to achieve administrative objectives. Prerequisite: PLS100 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS311 - The Legislative Process (3 credits)
    • Analyzes the powers and rules of legislatures and legislators in modern democracies with special reference to the American Congress. Emphasis will be placed on the decision-making process, including internal and external pressures upon legislators. Prerequisite: PLS100 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS312 - The American Presidency (3 credits)
    • Analyzes the structure and functions of the American institutionalized presidency, including an examination of the power and roles of the President and the decision-making process. Prerequisite: PLS100 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS313 - The Judicial Process (3 credits)
    • Describes the operation of the federal and state court systems; evaluates the processing of cases; examines the mechanisms of judicial recruitment; discusses the impact of decisions on the political process.
  • PLS331 - Municipal Government & Administration (3 credits)
    • Study of the development of city government in the United States; the governmental organization of several typical cities; the problems of law enforcement, health, housing, welfare, planning and zoning; and the future of cities. Prerequisite: PLS231 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS332 - Federal-State-Local Relations (3 credits)
    • Fosters understanding of the continuity, current dimensions, and interrelated nature of the issues characterizing American governmental relations and the feasibility of various approaches offered for their assuagement. Prerequisite: PLS231 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS431 - Pennsylvania Local Government (3 credits)
    • Concerns the structure and administrative functions of local governments in Pennsylvania. Extensive emphasis will be on analyzing local government functions and problems emanating from the jurisdictions’ political, social, and economic environment. Prerequisite: PLS231and PLS271 or permission of instructor.


  • PLS302 - Public Policy Analysis (3 credits)
    • Examines the policy making process(es) and the implications for the conduct of policy analysis. Reviews the policy implementation process(es)and the implications for the conduct of policy analysis. Focuses upon specific quantitative and qualitative policy analysis/program evaluation techniques. Prerequisite: PLS301.
  • PLS321 - Public Opinion (3 credits)
    • Deals with the nature of public opinion and its role in the political process; myths and symbols in opinion formation; modern methods of opinion measurement (e.g., surveys, polls, samples); the nature and role of propaganda under democratic and totalitarian systems of government and the role of newspapers, radio, television, and other media of communication in opinion formation. Prerequisite: PLS100 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS322 - Interest Groups in American Society (3 credits)
    • Studies the origins, organizations, opportunities, tactics of interest groups (pressure groups) and an assessment of the legitimacy of their role in democratic and quasi-democratic politics. Investigates problems connected with the existing incentive to join groups, the iron law of oligarchy, access points to government decision making functions to private interest pressure groups. Prerequisite: PLS100 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS323 - American Political Parties & Politics(3 credits)
    • Reviews the development and status of political parties in American society and its governing units. Functioning of the major parties is pursued in the real setting of practical politics as is feasible. Prerequisite: PLS100 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS324 - Women in American Politics (3 credits)
    • Intended and designed for males and females, examines the changing political role of women in the United States and compares women across American subcultures. Investigates political attitudes and values, voting behavior, and recruitment of women for political leadership.
  • PLS325 - African-American Politics (3 credits)
    • Examines the relationship between African-American citizens and the American political system in order to gain a broader perspective on the American political process.  Representation and strategies for empowerment discussed.

Theory and Law

  • PLS361 - Political Theory from Ancient Times Through 19th Cen. (3 credits)
    • Surveys the major political ideas of the world from ancient times to the present. Consists of critical appraisal of the ideas and thinkers and their impact on modern political institutions. Prerequisite: PLS101 or PLS102 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS362 - 20th Century Political Ideologies (3 credits)
    • Considers the major ideologies and -isms of the Western World that have arisen or have acquired political significance during the 20thcentury. Examines ideologies and -isms in terms of the root political concepts and theories they express and in terms of the interplay between the ideas and the political environment of major ideologies. Prerequisite: PLS101 or PLS102 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS363 - American Political Thought (3 credits)
    • Critical study of the political ideas underlying and associated with personalities and institutions in the United States from colonial times.
  • PLS365 - Constitutional Law I: The Federal System (3 credits)
    • Analyzes leading American constitutional decisions relating to national legislative, executive, and judicial powers and to the position of the states. Prerequisite: PLS100 or permission of instructor.
  • PLS366 - Constitutional Law II: First Amendment Rights (3 credits)
    • Examines body of constitutional law associated with the First Amendment including: the establishment and free exercise of religion; the freedom of speech, press, and assembly. Discusses issues surrounding the freedom of expression and the right to privacy.
  • PLS367 - Constitutional Law III: Criminal Law & Equal Protection (3 credits)
    • Examines body of constitutional law associated with the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments and evaluates the protection of criminal defendants’ rights in the United States today. Discusses case law surrounding the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

Electives in Major (9 crs.)

Students must take nine additional hours of course work in political science. Contemporary Issues (PLS291), Selected Topics (PLS391), or an internship (PLS395) may also be used to satisfy this requirement. At least six hours must be taken at the 300-level or above.

Required Allied Fields (19 credits)

Economics (6 credits)

  • ECO101 - Principles of Macroeconomics (3 credits)
    • This course is an introduction to aggregative economics. While providing some historical and institutional perspective on the U.S. and world economy, the course focuses primarily upon contemporary theories of employment, inflation, and growth. Also examined are monetary and fiscal policy and foreign trade.
  • ECO102 - Principles of Microeconomics (3 credits)
    • This course is an introduction to the theory of price, including demand theory; the theory of the firm under purely competitive and imperfectly competitive market conditions; and the theory of income distribution. Application of theory to practical problems is stressed.


  • ECO1113 - Principles of Economics (4 credits)
    • Introduces fundamental concepts important for understanding how individuals and organizations functioning within an economy.
  • and any Economics course at or above the 200 level (3 credits)

Sociology (6 credits)

  • SOC101 - Introduction to Sociology: Society & Diversity (3 credits)
    • This is a basic course in sociology which is concerned with fundamental sociological concepts and principles. It identifies the field of sociology and its relationship to other social sciences. As a prerequisite for other sociology courses it gives an overview of society and culture, dealing with people, social groups, institutions, and processes.

An additional sociology elective selected from the following list:

  • SOC243 - Minority Groups (3 credits)
    • Defines the concept of minority. Looks at the impact of prejudice and discrimination. Reviews some of the major minority groups in the United States and provides some cross-cultural comparisons. Major problems and possible solutions are discussed. Prerequisite: SOC101.
  • SOC346 - Urban Sociology (3 credits)
    • Provides an analysis of the process of urbanization with major emphasis upon contemporary urban society. The approach is centered around urbanism as a way of life, with emphasis on people and their actions and relationships. The course is also concerned with social ecology, the dynamic system of spatial patterns and relationships which make up the structure of city growth. Prerequisite: SOC101.
  • SOC351 - Race Relations (3 credits)
    • Studies sociological principles underlying race relations with emphasis on black-white relations in the United States. The concepts of "race" and patterns of interaction between racially and culturally diverse groups will also be highlighted. Prerequisite: SOC101.
  • SOC354 - Social Movements & Social Change (3 credits)
    • Studies the nature of collective action and protest as catalysts for social change. Explores causes, tactics, and achievements of specific social movements. Prerequisite: SOC101.
  • SOC363 - Population Problems (3 credits)
    • Introduces basic demographic methods and theories to study the social causes and consequences of population size, composition, and distribution. Special attention to the impact of population change on resources, the environment, public policy, and personal lifestyles now and in the future. Prerequisite: SOC101.
  • SOC365 - Elites in Society (3 credits)
    • Is concerned with how social, economic, and political elites acquire, exercise, and maintain power in American society. Emphasis is on the composition, cohesion, organization, and homogeneity of elites. In addition, class, education, lifestyle, political activity, and deviance of elites will be explored. Prerequisite: SOC101.
  • SOC425 - Sociology of Law (3 credits)
    • Designed to be an introduction to the study of sociology of law and also sociology in law. The course will primarily look at the legal systems of the United States, the primary actors in those legal systems, the social/cultural contexts in which laws exist and are created, and how laws both reflect and affect the social structure. The course is not designed to be a law course in the law school sense. Rather this course examines and applies sociological theories, concepts, and research to a particular arena of the social structure-laws and legal systems. Prerequisite: SOC101.

Mathematics (4 crs.)

  • MAT117 - Elementary Statistics for Social Science (4 credits)
    • Examines elementary statistical techniques of particular use in social science. The emphasis is on hypothesis testing including the calculation of statistics, interpretation of results, and consideration of alternative hypotheses. Use of computer library programs and an outline of the more common non-parametric techniques are included. This course is designed for social science majors and applications will be drawn from social science. Not open to students required to take DSI220 or students who have passed MAT102 or PSY205.

Interdisciplinary Studies (3 crs.)

Students must take one course from one of the four interdisciplinary minors at the university: Ethnic Studies (ETH100, ETH101,ETH102); Gerontology (GRN100); International Studies (ANT220, ECN321,GEO101, MGT370); or Women’s Studies (WST100, WST300).

Note: All students completing a Bachelor of Arts degree are required to attain intermediate level proficiency in a foreign language. Intermediate proficiency may be satisfied by the completion of six credits of intermediate level course work in a foreign language, or four years of a foreign language in high school, or satisfactory completion of a proficiency examination.