UMBC logo
Undergraduate Catalog cover art

Political Science

Career and Academic Paths | The Faculty | Academic Advising | Major Program | Political Science Double Majors | Honors Program | Accelerated B.A. and Master's in Public Policy Program | Minor Programs | Minor in Public Administration/Certificate in Public Administration and Policy | Legal Studies/Pre-law Advisors: | Student Organizations | Political Science Department Home Page |


View faculty details


Devin T. Hagerty


Arthur T. Johnson
George R. LaNoue
Roy T. Meyers
Nicholas R. Miller
Thomas Schaller

Associate Professors

Jeffrey Davis
Cynthia A. Hody

Assistant Professors

Carolyn Forestiere
Brian K. Grodsky
Laura Hussey
Tyson King-Meadows
Harold L. Levy

Associate Dean

Cheryl M. Miller

Courses in this program are listed under POLI.

What is a political problem? Who governs, and what is the nature of power? How can justice be achieved in human society? When is a government legitimate, and what are its proper tasks? Such questions have fascinated men and women for centuries. Political science is the systematic attempt to answer them.

Political science is a liberal arts major that helps students to think more critically and coherently about political matters, to understand better what is going on in the world, to make reasoned value choices about contemporary political issues and to overcome personal alienation from political life.

In addition, a political science major prepares students for a variety of careers. The major in political science is a directed liberal arts program that is at once challenging, yet responsive to the individual student's intellectual and career interests. Its required components cover both long-standing philosophical questions and contemporary social scientific knowledge about political life. Students are exposed to the breadth of the discipline through lower-level survey courses taught by experts in the various subfields that define political science. At the upper-level, students take more specialized courses and can, if they wish, concentrate in particular areas of the discipline.

Many options are available to students in the Department of Political Science: 1) In addition to its major, the Department offers six minors and one certificate. These programs give students of all majors a solid foundation for careers or graduate study in areas such as government, law, politics, and international affairs; 2) The Department runs a Legal Internship and an Internship in Policy, Politics and Administration. Each program annually places 15-20 students in internships with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, law firms, and state and federal legislative bodies. These internships give students valuable practical experience, professional contacts, and opportunities for self-discovery; 3) Students with special interests not adequately served by regular course offerings may do independent study projects under the supervision of a full-time faculty member; 4) Qualified students may enroll in the departmental honors program; and 5) Qualified students may take graduate courses offered by the Department of Public Policy.

Major Program

To graduate with a B.A. in political science, students must complete a minimum of 36 credits in political science with a grade of ”C” or better.

All students must complete the following lower-level course:

  • POLI 100 American Government and Politics [3]

Students are required to take four additional courses at the 200 level. They may choose among the following:

  • POLI 200 Introduction to Political Science [3]
  • POLI 210 Political Philosophy [3]
  • POLI 220 The U.S. Constitution [3]
  • POLI 230 Introduction to Constitutional Law [3]
  • POLI 233 Common Law and Legal Analysis [3]
  • POLI 240 State and Local Politics [3]
  • POLI 250 Public Administration [3]
  • POLI 260 Comparative Politics [3]
  • POLI 280 International Relations [3]

At the upper level (300- and 400-level courses), students are required to take a minimum of 21 credits. All students are required to take one of the following three courses:

  • POLI 300 Quantitative Analysis in Political Science [4]
  • POLI 301 Research Methods in Political Science [3]
  • POLI 302 Analysis of Political Data [3]

Students are required to take six additional, three-credit, upper-level courses, with at least two of these six courses being 400-level courses.

In addition to these formal requirements, the political science faculty makes the following recommendations to its majors:

1. Majors are strongly urged to take one or more courses in English composition beyond ENGL 100.

2. Majors are urged to take additional courses in mathematics, computer science, principles of economics, American history, philosophy and other social sciences.

3. Majors planning to enter graduate or professional study are especially urged to take STAT 121 or a more advanced statistics course.

Minor Programs

Note: No grade lower than a ”C” in any course may count toward any minor.

Political Science Minor

Total credits for minor: 18

Political science is an important component of a liberal arts education. An understanding of government and politics is essential to be an engaged citizen and an effective contributor to one’s community. The political science minor is designed to permit students to pursue a specialization within political science not covered by the department’s other minor programs or to gain a broad understanding of political science concepts and theories. The minor is available only to those who are not majoring in political science.

A. Required Courses (6 credits)

  • POLI 100 American Government and Politics
  • POLI 210 Political Philosophy

B. Elective Courses (minimum of 12 credits)

Four POLI courses, one of which must be at the 400 level

International Affairs Minor

Total credits for minor: 21, plus a language

This minor is designed for students in any major who want to concentrate in the study of international affairs. Students are required to acquire a significant language capability and an in-depth knowledge of one region of the world or of a policy area. Each student will be assigned a faculty minor advisor. The concentration provides a good foundation for further study and careers in international affairs (e.g., international business, intelligence analysis, U.S. State Department, international development, international organizations, international private voluntary organizations, etc.).

A. Required Courses (12 credits)

  • POLI 260 Comparative Politics
  • POLI 280 International Relations
  • POLI 360 Comparative Political Analysis
  • POLI 487 International Political Economy

B. Language Requirements

Courses or proficiency through the 302 level in one language other than the student’s native language.

C. Electives (9 credits)

To be chosen in terms of a particular regional interest of the student (e.g., Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe, Middle East) or a policy area, such as the environment, public health, international economics or national security/foreign policy. For students pursuing a regional specialization, their elective credits should include a course on the politics of the region, unless this requirement is waived by the student’s advisor. Three elective credits may be in an independent study course, the topic and content to be worked out with an advisor.

Students also are encouraged to take an administrative internship in an international-related agency.

Applied Politics Minor

Total credits for minor: 23

The program in applied politics is designed for students in any major who are interested in careers in government and politics that do not fall within the traditional rubric of public administration. In particular, the program will provide a strong foundation for students interested in careers as legislative aides, lobbyists, party and campaign professionals, political affairs specialists and analysts for such agencies as the Congressional Research Service. The program also provides a solid background for graduate study in American politics.

A. Required Courses (11 credits)

  • POLI 100 American Government and Politics [3]
  • POLI 300 Quantitative Analysis in Political Science [4]
  • POLI 428 Politics Internship [4]

B. Elective Courses (12 credits)

Additional courses from the following to total 23 credits:

  • POLI 323 The Presidency
  • POLI 324 The Congress
  • POLI 325 Political Parties and Elections
  • POLI 327 Interest Groups and Lobbyists
  • POLI 401 Independent Study (as approved by advisor)
  • POLI 402 Honors Research (as approved by advisor)
  • POLI 423 Presidential Elections
  • POLI 425 Campaigns and Elections
  • POLI 426 Electoral Systems and Representation
  • POLI 427 African American Politics
  • POLI 440 Urban Politics
  • POLI 610* American Political Institutions and Public Policy
  • POLI 615* American Political Arena
  • POLI 620* Community and Politics

* Graduate courses open to qualified undergraduates under conditions specified in academic regulations.

Minor Program in Legal Policy

Total credits for minor: 21

The program in legal policy is offered to students who wish to gain an understanding of law as an adjunct to their primary interests. Many fields, ranging from engineering to the arts, require an understanding of law. An understanding of law and legal issues is necessary to understand contemporary social issues and to be an effective advocate in the policy debates related to these issues. The legal policy minor will provide especially useful experiences and credentials for students in all majors who plan to attend law school. Core courses in the minor introduce students to the fundamentals of the study of American law, while the elective courses permit students to pursue intellectual interests or professional goals.

A. Required Courses (12 credits)

Each student must complete:

  • POLI 230 Introduction to Constitutional Law
  • POLI 233 Common Law and Legal Analysis
  • Each student also must complete two of the following four courses:
  • POLI 337 Comparative Justice
  • POLI 432 Civil Rights
  • POLI 433 First Amendment Freedoms
  • POLI 435 Legal Reasoning

B. Elective Courses: (9 credits)

  • POLI courses not taken as a core requirement may be taken as electives. Additional elective options:
  • ECAD 360 Business Law
  • AFST 275 Criminal Justice Process and Black Americans
  • AFST 371 The Female Offender
  • HIST 447 History of Civil Rights Since the Civil War
  • PHIL 356 Philosophy of Law
  • SOCY 371 Criminology and Penology
  • SOCY 372 Juvenile Delinquency
  • POLI 334 Judicial Process
  • POLI 338 Women and Law
  • POLI 339 Legal Advocacy (no more than 3 credits)
  • POLI 352 Administrative Law
  • POLI 436 Health Law
  • POLI 438 Legal Internship (Highly recommended)
  • POLI 439 Selected Topics in Public Law
  • POLI 445 Law, Politics and American Educational Policy