Does a Political Science student study things other than politics?

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What is Political Science?

Political science or polisci, as colleges often refer to the term as, is a social science that includes the analysis of political systems, political thoughts and ideologies, and political behavior, to name a few. Another word you may encounter in this field is politology, whose synonym is political science. Either term also encompasses the cultural and psychological factors that influence the governments. Other subjects of discussion involving political science are philosophy, economics, theology, history, and law.

The precursors of modern political science are rooted in philosophy from familiar names as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The trio expounded on political thought through the analysis of military and governmental leadership from leaders as Julius Caesar. Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180) inadvertently became a political philosopher by writing The Meditations, which remains a source of inspiration and guiding light for many today.

Bachelor’s Degree

For this degree, most institutions have a preponderance of classes devoted to politics, in some form or other. As examples:

American National Government:  Students will need a firm grasp of the U.S. constitution democracy, political parties, and administrative groups.

Political Ideologies: The course material will vary; however, some of the topics might include Marxism, liberalism, conservatism, and dictatorships.

Comparative Politics or Government:  A popular subject in the field that analyses and compares how society functions under the banner of different government styles and methods. The material and lectures may examine the strengths and weaknesses of current political systems.

Public Administration:  You may explore the evolution of the bureaucratic state, the purpose of administrators, federalism, war powers, Presidential authority in the U.S., taxation, government spending, and election process.

Judicial System:  How does the U.S. legal system compare to other nations? How does the current system work as a cog in the grander political machinery of the country? Students may also explore how courts work, the role of judges, the organization of states and federal courts, and the criminal justice involvement in politics. Some schools refer to this area of polisci as the Judicial Process.

Human Rights:  On the surface, this may appear to be a class that deviates from politics, per se. However, it generally involves human and civil rights as they relate to economic and cultural influences.

Where a student may branch into courses unrelated to politics is in the college’s core curriculum. These are classes required by the institution to satisfy your graduation eligibility. At Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, a sample of their core work includes composition, mathematics, physical sciences, language, and history. The school offers the choice of a Bachelor of Science or Arts in Political Science. The core classes are similar for both degrees.

Another way to take a tack away from programs weighted in politics is to combine political science with an emphasis in Secondary Education. Boise State University has such an undergraduate degree for those interested in teacher education. Examples of classes in this concentration are:

  • Writing and Rhetoric
  • Oral Communication
  • Mathematics
  • Applied Science course with lab
  • Education and Schooling
  • Teaching Secondary School Social Studies

The Boise program does incorporate polisci courses, namely American Politics, International Relations, and Comparative Politics.


Why so many classes with politics as the theme? The obvious answer is because when you select a college major, the coursework will concentrate on that particular major. After all, you most likely chose that area of study to learn as musk as possible during the undergraduate program. Moreover, looking to a future career as a political analyst, legislative assistant, public relations specialist, political campaign staff member, or political consultant, your knowledge of all things in the political realm will boost your chance of success.

Master’s Degree

At the graduate level, as your education proceeds, the emphasis of classes is entirely committed to politics, government, and diplomacy, for example. You may have a course in Economics and Public Policy, which focuses on how economic decisions and policies affect society. Financial markets, trade, debt, taxation, and the International Monetary Fund are possible areas of study.

A choice you may face is whether you want a thesis or non-thesis program in the master’s program. Sam Houston State University offers the option of either in its Master of Arts in Political Science. The thesis is shorter, with 30 hours of classes versus the non-thesis of 36 hours.


Politics, by definition, is the science or art of governmental policy, influences, and activities concerning the operation of a government. Therefore, college courses will explore all aspects of how and what makes government vital in society, past, and present. Outside of core or general requirement courses, yes, the classes will hone in on learning about politics.

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