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Undergraduate Catalog 2013

Political Science


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Jeffrey Davis


Devin T. Hagerty
Arthur T. Johnson
George R. LaNoue
Roy T. Meyers
Thomas Schaller

Associate Professors

Carolyn Forestiere
Brian K. Grodsky
Cynthia A. Hody
Tyson King-Meadows

Assistant Professors

Rachael Hinkle
Laura Hussey
Lisa Pace Vetter


Brigid Starkey

Associate Dean, CAHSS (and Associate Professor)

Cheryl M. Miller

Professors Emeriti

Carol Barner-Barry
Harold L. Levy

Research Professor

Nicholas R. Miller

Lecturer and Shady Grove Program Director

Sunil Dasgupta

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.

Career and Academic Paths

Typical career options for political science graduates include: government service and diplomacy; politics; law; teaching; journalism; business; and work as lobbyists, public affairs officers and directors of non-profit institutions, interest groups and international organizations. UMBC political science students have gone on to such outstanding law and graduate schools as Yale, the University of Chicago, and Columbia University, as well as all of the Baltimore- and Washington-area schools. They have become judges, partners in law firms, executive officers of major corporations, and government administrators. Some have become foreign-service officers or have attained cabinet-level positions in state and local government. Others have become tenured faculty members and administrators at colleges and universities. Many political science majors go on to earn graduate or law degrees.

The Faculty

The political science faculty is committed to teaching as well as to research. Faculty members present papers at scholarly conferences throughout the nation, write books and publish articles in the best journals in the profession. But at the same time, faculty members are dedicated teachers. They teach all the courses within the department, from the introductory to the most advanced. They are evaluated and rewarded as much by the quality of their teaching as the quality of their scholarship.

Academic Advising

The Political Science and Prelaw advising office, in the Public Policy Building, room 357, offers a dedicated staff; access to graduate, law and professional school catalogs and information about internships available through the political science department and other institutions. Interested students should stop by the office or call 410-455-2063 for further assistance.

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 or any other 200 level POLI courses offered:

  • 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]

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 before taking 200 level or higher POLI courses.

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.

Political Science Double Majors

Political Science has no formal policy on counting courses for double majors. However, we do have some informal norms that are followed. For example, there are at least three potential areas of double counting - gender and women's studies, political theory minor, and the POLI methods requirement. On an ad hoc basis, similar cases for other departments will be considered. However, in all cases, the student would still need to complete 36 political science credits (21 upper level and two 400 level), which would include the double counted courses. The double counted courses would not need to be taken under the POLI rubric.

Gender and women's studies majors have two courses that could be considered for both majors: POLI 328: Women and Politics and POLI 338: Women and the Law.

For the political thought minor, we often accept classes from philosophy. The classes that are counted in this way are listed in the description of the political thought minor below.

With regard to the political science methods courses (POLI 300, POLI 301, and POLI 302), in a case where the second major has a methods requirement or course, a student might take that course instead of one of the POLI methods courses. Approval would need to be granted by the student's political science adviser to make sure there is course equivalency. Sometimes, the department has also required STAT 121 in these cases.

Honors Program

An honors program is available for qualified majors. This program is especially recommended for students intending to go on to graduate or professional school or for those who wish to demonstrate specific skills and experience. Students interested in completing the honors program must have a 3.25 GPA overall and a 3.5 GPA in political science courses. Honors candidates also must write an honors thesis under the supervision of two faculty advisors. A complete description of the honors program and its requirements is available from the department office or Undergraduate Program Director.

Accelerated B.A. and Master's in Public Policy Program

The political science department and the public policy department cooperate in offering qualified students a joint program leading to both a B.A. in Political Science and a master’s degree in public policy. Students in the joint program can earn the two degrees with 145 credits in five or five and one half years. If pursued separately, the two degrees would require 160 credits and at least six years.

Students with a GPA of at least 3.3 may apply for admission into the program after completing 75 credits. During their senior year, provisionally admitted students can take graduate--level courses. Full admission into the graduate program will take place after the B.A. has been granted, provided satisfactory grades have been obtained. The Graduate Record Exam is usually waived for accelerated pathways public policy students.

Graduate--level POLI courses can count toward the 36 POLI credits required for the B.A. The graduate methods sequence can be used to satisfy the undergraduate methodology requirement. A complete description of the M.P.P. program may be found in the Graduate Catalog. Further information on the joint program is available from the Department of Public Policy.

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 or POLI 281 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 334 Judicial Process
  • 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 337 Comparative Justice
  • POLI 338 Women and Law
  • POLI 339 Legal Advocacy (no more than 3 credits)
  • POLI 352 Administrative Law
  • POLI 436 Health Law
  • POLI 437 Human Rights Law
  • POLI 438 Legal Internship (Highly recommended)
  • POLI 439 Special Topics in Public Law
  • POLI 445 Law, Politics and American Educational Policy 
  • POLI 482 International Law

Minor in Public Administration/Certificate in Public Administration and Policy

Total credits for minor: 18

Total credits for certificate: 36

Students interested in pursuing a career in public administration or other government service should consider completing the requirements for the minor in public administration or, if qualified, the Certificate in Public Administration and Policy, in addition to completing the requirements for their chosen major.

See the section on Administrative and Managerial Sciences for a full description of the requirements for the certificate. The requirements for the minor are as follows:

Required Courses:

  • POLI 250 Introduction to Public Administration
  • POLI 350 The Policy-making Process
  • POLI 352 Administrative Law
  • POLI 353 Government Budgeting and Financial Administration
  • POLI 354 Public Management and Personnel Systems
  • ANY course in the POLI 440-459 range

Non-political science majors may substitute for POLI 350 a policy-related course from their majors, subject to approval of the minor coordinator.

Legal Studies/Pre-law Advisors:

Jeffrey Davis, George R. LaNoue

The political science department offers a strong preparation for students interested in law school or employment in law-related areas that do not require law school (e.g., regulatory agencies, judicial administration, etc.). Courses on legal subjects also may be useful to political science students who have other goals and to students in history, economics, American studies, Africana studies and other majors. Several levels of courses exist. For students interested only in introductory course overviews in the legal area, the department offers POLI 230: Introduction to Constitutional Law and POLI 233: Common Law and Legal Analysis.

For pre-law students, or those who wish to build a solid background in law for graduate school or employment, the department offers the legal policy minor, as well as focused work in basic legal areas: POLI 334: Judicial Process, POLI 432: Civil Rights, POLI 433: First Amendment Freedoms. In addition, specialized courses (POLI 352, 435, 439, 445 and, with permission, POLI 438, 621 and 626) provide students with rich opportunities to develop legal skills and knowledge. The department maintains a pre-law advising office in the Public Policy Building (PUP) 357, the resources of which are available to all UMBC students and through which appointments with Pre-law faculty advisors may be scheduled.

Student Organizations

The Political Science department has a Council of Majors; a Pre-law Society and a national honors society, Pi Sigma Alpha. Among other activities, these organizations foster opportunities for students to build informal relationships with faculty members, assist with departmental decision-making, host forums on graduate and law school, and network with other political science students and alumni. UMBC also sponsors a Model United Nations program whose members attend national conferences. The UMBC Model United Nations team regularly wins awards at these conferences.

Political Science Department Home Page

Students and others are encouraged to visit the department’s home page to learn more about political science faculty members and selected courses and to connect with a large number of politically relevant links to government and political data and career information. The department’s home page is