Political Science


Perhaps the oldest of the social sciences, the discipline has its origins in Socrates and Aristotle called it the master science. As study of power, political science explains who gets what, when, where and how. It examines the struggles over the claims to authority put forth to shape the lives of citizens and the world. As the study of values, it examines why citizens obey or rebel, the nature of the just society, and the ways individuals reconcile personal liberty with political authority. As the science of political behavior, it analyzes the actions of interest groups, political parties and public officials. Politics is an omnipresent force, not only in governments but in families, social organizations, schools and decision-making bodies of all types – from student councils to international institutions.


General Interest Area:

Our faculty have depth in their fields, breadth in their research, and pursue multiple interdisciplinary interests. Courses are offered in the traditional fields of international and comparative politics, American government, political theory, public policy, and public law. The department also offers classes in environmental policy and politics, Native American studies, the politics of science, and women’s studies.

High School Background:

Courses in government and economics are helpful, as well as writing and speech classes.

Plan of Study:

The Political Science department offers a B.A. as well as minors in Law and Society, Political Science, and Environmental Politics. The plan of study requires completion of general UAF requirements, including the core courses PS 100x, PS 300x, and HIST 100x. Within the major PS 101 – American Government and PS 222 – Research Methods must be completed. Students then can pick their major credits from a variety of courses representing the discipline’s subfields: comparative politics, public law, international politics, political theory, American government and politics. There are three options for the major capstone: (1) service learning PS 475 - Internship in Public Affairs, (2) research PS 499 – Thesis, or (3) the Alaska Universities Legislative Internship program.

How to get Involved:

The courses and faculty expertise are complemented by real world opportunities for political science students to apply their learning. We offer numerous internship and scholarship opportunities in Alaska and the rest of the United States. Students can participate in Model United Nations simulations, join the political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha, aid faculty as research assistants, become teaching assistants and take part in numerous other department projects such as bringing speakers to campus or hosting roundtables on important issues.

Career and Graduate Possibilites:

Our students have used political science as a stepping-stone to graduate work in the social sciences and have taken jobs teaching at colleges and universities. Other graduates have gained employment in the media and public relations, taught high school, and been hired by business corporations at the state or national level. The study of political science has also prepared students for work in various fields of government. Alaska offers exciting job prospects for our graduates as managers in state and local governments and as legislators and legislative staff members. Our students are also qualified to work outside of Alaska in numerous public and private sector jobs.

Political science provides the best and broadest understanding of the formation, application and change of law, as well as research techniques and standards of argumentation essential to legal practice. Our majors have been admitted to the nation's top law schools. A solid understanding of local, national, and international politics will benefit any student throughout his or her career. Ultimately, what you do with political science is up to you, but a background in political science will benefit you throughout your life by giving you the analytical tools to understand and act on the politics affecting you.

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