University of South Carolina


Political Science: What to Expect

As a Political Science major at the University of South Carolina, you will gain an understanding about how politics, government, and governance shape the world and the quality of citizenship in the world. Through outstanding faculty and challenging coursework, you will develop critical learning skills, especially as related to the study of politics. You will know how to research the answers to important questions related to politics, political values, and public policy. You will benefit from a wide variety of course offerings and have the opportunity to complete a public service internship to gain hands-on experience.

The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Political Science:

  • American National Government
  • Controversies in World Politics
  • Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations

A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. You may also choose to intern, volunteer, or conduct research abroad. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Web site for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. As a Political Science major you can get involved with the Political Science Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha, in which a new class is inducted each spring. You can also join Professional Society of International Studies Students and the department’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee. Through involvement with these organizations, you can learn to lead by seeking officer and leader positions. You can also get involved in competition such as the Mock Trial Team and the annual Philo S. Bennett Medal Award essay contest. Getting involved in an organization that interests you can help you network, meet new friends, and develop leadership skills. You can also seek out volunteer opportunities that relate to your major. Find a student organization on campus that interests you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. Many graduates go on to pursue degrees in Political Science, Public Administration, Public Policy, Business Administration, Journalism, and other social sciences. Political Science majors often go on to law school, as well.
Distinguished Faculty can help enhance your overall academic experience while at the University. The Political Science Department has a number of faculty members who have received prestigious awards including Dr. Don Songer, recipient of the Honors College Michael Hill Award for Outstanding Honors College Teaching. Don Fowler is also an engaging teacher in the department. He has a wealth of knowledge about American politics and South Carolina politics in particular. He is a veteran political consultant and former chair of the Democratic National Committee and the South Carolina Democratic Party. Students also give very high marks to the courses of Associate Professor Jill Frank who as a political theorist teaches undergraduate courses on classic and modern political theory.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding entering freshmen or current students. Each year the Department of Political Science awards a variety of scholarships including the Patricia Ann Tangney Dumiak Scholarship which is awarded to an incoming freshman whose major in the department.
Associated Learning Communities are an integral part of the university experience, providing you with the opportunity to live in an environment that promotes diversity, embraces excellence, encourages insightful faculty-student interaction and works to develop a strong sense of community. These academically themed communities also emphasize active service-learning experiences, study-abroad opportunities and undergraduate research. Students in the Law, Justice and Politics Community will have the opportunity to work with lawyers, government officials and other leaders in the fields of law, justice and politics to host programs, discussions, job shadowing, and mentoring. Students will also benefit from enrollment in designated sections of University 101 classes, planned social activities, and lecture series and panel discussions on current public policy and legal issues.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands-on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Political Science Department employs an Internship Director to assist you with your search. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Political Science majors at the University have had a wide range of exciting and unique internship opportunities. Students have interned with the Columbia World Affairs Council, the South Carolina Republic and Democratic parties, the state Department of Commerce, United Way, and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Additionally, the department has an internship collaboration with the South Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee through the office of the Senate Pro Temp and each spring five to 10 students gain invaluable experience working with one of the most active and important committees of the South Carolina Senate. Many students have also participated in research projects and received the prestigious Magellan Award.

Career Opportunities

Students who earn degrees in Political Science typically seek careers as lawyers, with many of them wishing to pursue public office. Still, many graduates are employed in other fields including journalism, business, public administration, non-profit organizations, and teaching.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

About the College of Arts and Sciences

The Department of Political Science at the University is the only full-service department of Political Science in the state of South Carolina. It is an intellectual community committed to the advancement of theoretical and practice knowledge about politics through the conduct and dissemination of research and through teaching within and beyond the classroom. The department offers undergraduate degrees in Political Sciences and international studies. The Master’s of Public Administration program offered by the department is the leading program in the state and among the very best in the Southeast. The department also offers a Ph.D. program in Political Science and a Master of Arts in International Studies. The Department of Political Science is in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Points of Pride

  • Our faculty in law and judicial politics rates among the top 5 in the nation.
  • Our International Politics Program rates among the top 20 in the nation.
  • Among public universities, our department ranks in the top 40.
  • Political Science and International Studies undergraduates are regularly among the top student award recipients in the College of Arts and Sciences. Awards include the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, USC’s Outstanding Senior awards, Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, and more.

Additional Resources
Department of Political Science Website
College of Arts and Sciences Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin