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PoliSci Minors & Concentrations

Political Science Minor

A student must achieve a 2.5 grade point average in eight political science courses (including American Government) to be certified to graduate with a political science minor. Each spring the academic progress of all majors is reviewed. Faculty members in the Political Science Department work closely with students to help set high academic standards and to assist them in achieving their goals.

Sample Curricula: Students choose courses in consultation with their faculty advisor that reflect their particular interests. Some students choose to sample the major subfields of the discipline, while other students concentrate their studies in international relations, law and political theory, American politics, or environmental politics. Sample minors and a possible curriculum are provided below.


Topics of Study for Minors:

Non-Thematic Minor: American Government, Politics of Russia, Leadership, Political Theory, Geopolitics, Civil Liberties, Comparative Politics: Asia, American Political Thought, and Politics of the Global Economy.

International Relations: American Government, Comparative Politics: Europe, American Foreign Policy, International Relations, Geopolitics, Politics of the Global Economy, World Politics, Intelligence and National Security.

Law and Political Theory: American Government, Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties, Environmental Law, Legal Research and Writing, Political Theory, American Political Thought, American Legal Process.

American Politics: American Government, American Presidency, American Congress, Political Parties and Interest Groups, State and Local Politics, Public Administration, Seminar: Debating Democracy.

Environmental Politics: American Government, Environmental Politics, Environmental Philosophy, Environmental Law, Environmental History of the US, Contemporary Environmental Issues, Religion and the Environment, Politics of the Global Economy.


Applied Politics Concentration

Have you ever wondered what it is like to work on a political campaign? Does a career in Washington, D.C., sound exciting? Do you find Election Day exhilarating? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then the Political Science Department’s Concentration in Applied Politics is the program for you.

The concentration in applied politics combines the political science core curriculum, which includes classes from the major subfields of the discipline, with courses, internships and technical training necessary for a successful career in politics. As a result, the program provides a sound basis for graduate and career work in law, teaching, journalism and public policy; and campaign management, public opinion polling and government service. Students who successfully complete the requirements of the program have the achievement noted on their transcript.

The curriculum is comprised of two components: academic and experiential. Like the straight political science major, the concentration in applied politics is comprised of 45 credits, or 15 classes. Of these classes, eight (24 credits) introduce students to the discipline of political science, six (18 credits) focus on knowledge necessary for a career in applied politics, and one allows students to acquire real-world experience in government or political campaigns.

Topics of Study:

  • American Government
  • International Relations
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Contemporary Issues in Politics
  • Congress and the Presidency
  • State and Local Politics
  • American Political Thought
  • Political Theory
  • Public Administration
  • Research Methods in Social Sciences

Topics of Study specific to Applied Politics:

  • Political Behavior of the American Electorate
  • Campaign Management
  • Media and Politics
  • Political Parties and Interest Groups
  • Congress and the Presidency
  • State and Local Politics
  • Political Psychology
  • Political Rhetoric

Experiential Learning:

The concentration in applied politics’ curriculum also includes two experiential components. The first of these components is serving as a student research associate in the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP). During this year-long experience, students learn how to gauge, analyze and interpret public opinion by conducting original research on local, regional and national populations with state of the art technology. In addition, students organize events, write press releases and help members of the media understand the results of the center’s research. Students do not receive credit for this experience.

Second, students are required to complete a political science internship. Although students are strongly encouraged to complete at least one internship each year (beginning their sophomore year), they receive academic credit only for only one internship experience. Most often, the internship for which they receive credit is completed during their junior or senior year; and, most often, the internship is located in Washington, D.C. Beginning the students' sophomore year, they will work closely with their advisor and the Director of Internships for Applied Politics to identify and secure internships.


Environmental Studies and Politics Concentration 

The environmental studies and politics program is directed at students who are considering graduate studies, law school or careers in work related to the environment. It is an interdisciplinary study that includes courses in political science and the natural sciences. The environmental studies and politics program is the only program of its kind in the region. 

The program is structured to allow students to organize electives to focus on the aspect of the program that they find most interesting and to strengthen their preparation for a specific career track. For example, a student preparing for law school can use electives to take more courses in law. A student interested in public policy can use electives to take more courses in public administration.

Topics of Study:

  • American Government
  • Introduction to Public Administration
  • Environmental Politics
  • International Relations
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Political Theory
  • American Political Thought
  • Contemporary Environmental Issues
  • Environmental History of the U.S.
  • Environmental Law
  • Research Methods in Social Science
  • Contemporary Issues in Politics
  • American Congress
  • American Presidency of State and Local Politics
  • Political Science Project

Topics of Study in the Natural Sciences:
(Many of these courses require labs)

  • Environmental Problem Solving
  • Plant Science
  • Chemical Principles
  • Physical Geology
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Applied Environmental Science

Students who graduate from Mercyhurst University with an environmental studies and politics concentration in political science have enjoyed a great deal of professional success. In recent years, students have attended graduate programs in environmental policy, including that of top-ranked Indiana University, or attended law school. Other graduates are working for the Environmental Protection Agency or nonprofits addressing environmental concerns.


Interntional Relations Concentration

The International Relations (IR) concentration in political science addresses a significant need in an era of globalization. Mercyhurst students who specialize in international relations enroll in courses most relevant to this field. The innovative curriculum, which emphasizes international politics and regional political systems, is enhanced by versatile study abroad opportunities and a competitive Model International Organizations program focused on diplomacy and global problem solving.

Students who select the international relations concentration are preparing for a variety of careers, including diplomacy, academia, journalism, public service, or work with the vast array of non-governmental organizations engaged in advocacy and service around the world. A large percentage of Mercyhurst political science graduates pursue graduate school, and those seeking an IR program will be well prepared upon completion of his or her degree. Alumni in graduate or professional school and those currently working for the government at home and abroad, as well as for non-profits and businesses, are testimony to the quality of preparation received.  

The marketable skills at the center of this concentration include proficiency in research and analysis, the ability to read critically, an appreciation of diverse and complex views, an enhanced understanding of world events and the conditions that influence them, plus knowledge of different cultures and societies. For successful completion of the IR concentration, students must take 15 three-credit courses (9 required and 6 electives). Students will work with their adviser to plan their specific program. 

Topics of Study:

  • American Government
  • Geopolitics
  • American Foreign Policy 
  • International Relations
  • International Organizations & Diplomacy
  • Global Issues
  • Comparative Politics: Africa
  • Comparative Politics: Asia
  • Comparative Politics: Europe
  • Comparative Politics: Latin America
  • Politics of Russia
  • Comparative Politics: Countries at Crossroads

Elective Topics:

  • The Vietnam War
  • The Politics of Migration
  • World Politics
  • Political Cinema
  • Research Methods in Social Science
  • Nationalism
  • Intelligence and National Security
  • International Relations 
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Foreign Policy Decisions
  • Politics of the Global Economy
  • Development: The Search for Prosperity
  • Political Theory

In addition, students must complete at least two foreign language courses and are encouraged to go beyond the requirement.


Pre-Law Concentration 

Majoring in political science is great preparation for law school. In fact, political science is still the most common major for students currently enrolled in U.S. law schools. The Department of Political Science at Mercyhurst University takes great pride in its pre-law curriculum, which incorporates political science, sociology, psychology and philosophy courses. 

Political science students have the opportunity to complete nearly a dozen different courses related to legal theory and practice, while also completing internships with a wide variety of organizations and law firms. Required and elective courses are chosen with the help of the student's advisor, who customizes a curriculum that fits the student's interests and professional goals.


Want to know the most common law schools attend by Mercyhurst grads? Click here.

Topics of Study:

Most students who declare a pre-law concentration have the opportunity to take a wide range of courses related to law, including:

  • Constitutional Law
  • Civil Liberties
  • Psychology and the Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Business Law
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Sociology of the Law
  • Introduction to Logic
  • Philosophy of the Law

Law Schools Attended by Poli Sci Students:

Attended by Political Science Students (1993-2015)

The political science department has an extremely high placement rate of students in law schools. Our graduates have been placed in more than 20 law schools across the country. Below is a complete list of law schools attended by our alumni between 1993 and 2015:

  • Boston College Law School
  • Buffalo State University School of Law
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Law
  • Cleveland State (Cleveland Marshall College of Law)
  • DePaul University College of Law
  • Duquesne University Law School
  • Florida Coastal School of Law
  • Hofstra Law School
  • Indiana University Maurer School of Law
  • Michigan State University College of Law
  • Ohio Northern University College of Law
  • Penn State University-Dickinson School of Law
  • Syracuse University School of Law
  • Thomas M. Cooley Law School (Michigan)
  • University of Akron School of Law
  • University of Baltimore School of Law
  • University of California-Davis School of Law
  • University of Dayton School of Law
  • University of Maine School of Law
  • University of Miami (FL) School of Law
  • University of Michigan Law School
  • University of Missouri School of Law
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Law
  • University of Toledo College of Law
  • Valparaiso University Law School
  • West Virginia University College of Law
  • Widener University School of Law