Undergraduate

What is political science?

Political science is the study of politics and power from domestic, international, and comparative perspectives. It entails understanding government, policies, ideas, ideologies, institutions, and behavior, as well as groups, classes, diplomacy, law, strategy, and war.

A background in Political Science is valuable for citizenship and political action, as well as for future careers in government, law, business, media, or public service.

The Northwestern Department of Political Science offers classes in the four major subfields of the discipline (American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory), but many courses cut across subfields. A wide range of methodologies is deployed in our courses: quantitative, qualitative, comparative, historical, interpretative, and critical.

Political science is an exciting discipline because debates rage over the appropriate ways to study political phenomena and, indeed, what makes them “political” in the first place.

Why major in political science?

Northwestern students major in Political Science for many reasons, including:

  • Rigor and flexibility (the major enables you to become an expert in a particular area of study and choose from a wide range of electives)
  • Attractive career paths (e.g., law, government service, business, policy analysis, teaching, consulting)
  • Acquire strong analytical skills (learn to critically evaluate problems and solutions; develop skills in research, writing, and argumentation; acquire quantitative skills and become familiar with multiple methodologies; earn skill-based certificates of achievement in foreign language and/or quantitative skills)
  • Research opportunities (conduct independent and collaborative research with faculty)
  • Return on investment (among political science departments, Northwestern ranked seventh best in the country for its “return on investment” for college majors)