Political Science Major/Minor Requirements

Taken from the Course Catalog

The Political Science Department seeks to build skills necessary to understand and analyze contemporary politics and public policy. The major provides students with knowledge of political systems, analytical skills essential for evaluation of competing political claims, and the capacity to research topics in politics or public policy.  Our students will have an understanding of institutions, processes, and behaviors in subnational, national, and international political systems as well as an understanding of key themes in political thought.  Our students become familiar with the tools of investigation and analysis as they develop the ability to make judgments on political issues and communicate their views to others with a respect for multiple perspectives and a thoughtful approach to political discourse.  This training prepares students for careers in government, law, public policy, government-related private sector activities, public advocacy, lobbying, journalism, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools.  Graduates will also be prepared for admission to professional schools or graduate studies.  

The political science major should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the substance (subject content) of political science
  • Apply appropriate methodology or methodologies for investigating a political science topic
  • Engage in thoughtful analysis that respects the diversity of opinions in the political realm
  • Support judgments or conclusions in a manner consistent with political methodologies
  • Communicate effectively in written and oral forms


To earn a bachelor of arts degree with a major in political science, a student must satisfy the following minimum requirements:

  1. General College Requirements (See Courses; “Curriculum” sections), including the following requirements to satisfy the major:
  2. POSC 100: Introduction to Politics
  3. POSC 200: Scope and Methods of Political Science
  4. Twenty-four credit hours in political science with at least one course in each of the four subfields of the discipline (listed below), two of which must be at the 200-level and the remaining courses at the level of the student’s choice:
    1. American Politics
    2. Comparative Politics
    3. Political Theory
    4. International Politics
  5. One 400-level seminar course in any one of the four subfields of political science (or POSC 408: Studies in Public Policy).
  6. Capstone experience in political science: Students must satisfy either option (a) or (b) below:
    1. In conjunction with the seminar requirement in 5. above, the student must complete a senior-level paper and complete eight additional credit hours of coursework in political science. the senior-level paper is one in which the student demonstrates competence in political science by identifying and engaging with the concepts, problems, or controversies in the subfield of the seminar and makes a contribution to those issues. A student selecting option (a) must: (1) file a declaration of that intent with the course instructor and the department chair by the end of the sixth week of the semester in which she or he is enrolled in the seminar for which the paper is written; and (2) submit a copy of the seminar paper to the department chair no later than the last day of exam week for that semester. In addition, the seminar in which the senior-level paper is written must be taught by a member of the political science faculty.
    2. Complete an eight-credit St. Mary's Project in political science. With the permission of the chair of the Political Science Department, students may do a St. Mary's Project in another department, provided the project topic is related in content and methodology to the discipline of political science.
  7. The cumulative grade-point average of courses used to satisfy the major must be at least 2.00.
  8. The 44 credit hours of major requirements may include field experience and independent study approved by the department chair.

While each student who majors in political science should construct, with the advice of a member of the political science faculty, a program suitable for his or her particular objectives, the following model is suggested as a possible basic program that will satisfy the above requirements.

First Year:
One 100-level course

Sophomore Year:
POSC 200 and two additional 200-level courses in political science

Junior Year:
Two or three 300-level political science courses

Senior Year:
One or two 300-level course(s), 400-level seminar in political science, and senior experience requirement.


To earn a minor in political science, a student must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. General College requirements (see “Curriculum” sections).
  2. At least 24 credit-hours in political science as specified under the required and elective courses. The cumulative grade-point average of courses used to satisfy the minor must be at least 2.00.
    1. Required core course (four credit hours): POSC 100: Introduction to Politics
    2. Elective courses (20 credit hours) consisting of eight credit hours in political science courses at the 200-level and 12 credit-hours in political science courses at the 300 or 400-level.


A Master of Arts in Teaching program is available at St. Mary’s College of Maryland after completion of the baccalaureate degree. Students who are interested in becoming teachers should contact the chair of the Department of Educational Studies or an education adviser in their major field of study for suggested coursework in educational studies, and their specific major. These consultations should take place during the first semester of the sophomore year.


Diana Boros, Michael J. G. Cain, Todd Eberly, Matthew B. Fehrs, Susan E. Grogan, Walter W. Hill, Sahar Shafqat (department chair).