What is political science?

Political science is the study of politics and power from domestic, international, and comparative perspectives. It entails understanding political ideas, ideologies, institutions, policies, processes, and behavior, as well as groups, classes, government, 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 political science department provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to learn about politics from a variety of different perspectives. Classes are offered in the four major subfields of the discipline (American politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory), but many courses cut across subfields. While some students choose most of their courses from within one or two subfields, most take a wide variety of courses that span different areas.

Concentrations are not required, but majors are encouraged to consult with department advisers to design individualized programs of study. For example, students have designed concentrations around themes such as race, ethnicity, and politics; global transformation; representation and law; social and economic inequalities; terrorism and national security; and citizenship studies.

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)

Read interview with Professor Daniel Galvin, recipient of the E. LeRoy Hall Award for Excellence in Teaching, on the importance of studying politics: "Political Science with a Purpose"

Political Science Department SAB

The Weinberg College Student Advisory Board (SAB) is the primary source of student advice to the Dean of the College and the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies.

The SAB plays a central role in the College by:

  • Helping nominate faculty and TAs for Weinberg College Outstanding Teaching awards;
  • Selecting Weinberg College students to serve on several vital committees; and
  • Recommending a speaker for Weinberg College's Senior Convocation to the Dean.

The political science department has two SAB representatives, selected by the undergraduate committee. The SAB elects its own officers.

The SAB welcomes your input

Political Science Undergraduate Council

The newly formed Political Science Undergraduate Council consists of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Daniel Galvin, Undergraduate Program Assistant Pamela Straw, our two departmental Student Advisory Board (SAB) Representatives and select self-nominated students. The SAB representatives Co-chair the Political Science Undergraduate Council and lead the initiatives. Together, the Council works to plan events to facilitate faculty-student interaction, solicit student feedback and promote and improve Undergraduate student engagement and community in the Department.

Please contact your Political Science Undergraduate Council with suggested events you would like to see in the department. Any suggestions and questions are welcome!

The 2015-2016 Political Science Undergraduate Council Members are:

Alli Divine, Student Advisory Board Representative & Political Science Undergraduate Council Co-chair

 Political Science and International Studies

 Class of 2016



Alli is a Farrell Fellow working with Professor Wendy Pearlman and currently writing an honors thesis about non-state actors in Syria. Her studies focus on the Middle East and she has studied abroad in Israel, Qatar, and Finland.

Pam Keller, Student Advisory Board Representative & Political Science Undergraduate Council Co-chair

Political Science and English

Class of 2016



Pam is a research assistant for Professor Leslie McCall and will be attending law school next year, with a focus on constitutional law. Her studies focus on American politics and the representation of women. She is also the Vice President of Intellectual Development for her sorority and has competed in/coached speech and debate for over eight years.

Rutvij Merchant

 Political Science and Economics

 Class of 2016


Rutvij is particularly interested in the nexus of global health policy and international development as well as the comparative political economy of the various states of South Asia. Studying Political Science has been one of the best decisions of his college career and he hopes to make use of the Undergraduate Council to develop an even better experience for the majors to come. Rutvig is also a contributing author at The Diplomacist.

Sam Osburn

 Political Science and Psychology

 Class of 2017


Sam interests include elections, polarization, the Supreme Court, international security, and experimental methods. He also holds research assistant positions in two labs on campus. Next year, he is aiming to write a senior thesis in the psychology department and apply to grad school. Personal interests include baseball and Chicago restaurants.