Why Study Political Science?

Political science has been called “the queen of the sciences,” and rightly so. It is the only major where one can obtain practical knowledge and at the same time gain insights into the great issues of our age. What, for example, are the causes and institutional forces behind conflicts between the President and the chairman of a congressional committee? Are nations threatening an armed confrontation? What lies behind this conflict? Is there public and media frenzy over a certain policy? Why do people react this way and is it justified? What is the human condition? What is the meaning of civil society, and what is the individual’s place in it?

When you study Political Science you will think about these questions often. You will be able to answer them better than you could otherwise thanks to an understanding of the Presidency and Congress, international relations, political ideologies, and political theory. The knowledge and critical skills gained from the study of politics will enable you to be a more rational citizen, a more constructive participant in public affairs, and a better professional in any vocation that deals with the public domain, including important positions in corporations, government and non-profit organizations.

Political Science is a broad and inclusive discipline. Some political scientists are psychological researchers who want to understand why people behave the way they do politically. Some political scientists study institutions such as legislatures, courts, and bureaucracies. Others seek to know the whys and wherefores of judicial processes and constitutional issues. Some study foreign political systems to learn how their political systems work and why they differ from ours and each other. Other political scientists are intellectual historians and social critics who are interested in the quest for the good society. Still others are policy analysts. Some are omnibus students of American politics. Some are statistical theorists and specialists in surveying political attitudes. Some investigate the causes of war and the conditions for peace among nations.

Amid this wide diversity of interests and approaches lies a common concern with anything "political": issues, institutions, behavior, power, and public goods. Political scientists also share a common interest: the public arena of human society, the uses of power and persuasion, and the ideas which shape it. The different pursuits and the varied methodologies of political scientists all are directed in one way or another toward promoting this common goal of understanding politics.

What can I do with a political science degree?