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School of Arts and Sciences | Political Science

Aims and Objectives

Political Science is an academic discipline that prepares students to use both humanistic and scientific approaches to understanding governments and other decision-making institutions, public policies, and political behavior, both in the United States and internationally. The major combines courses in American and international government systems with studies in law, civic rights, and political policies. The program enables students to choose from two concentrations, based on their own interests and career plans.

This concentration gives students the background needed for application to law schools at the graduate level, in preparation for a J.D. degree. The program throughout emphasizes skills that U.S. law schools identify in their successful candidates for admission: critical thinking, clear written spoken communication, ability to work collaboratively, and a global perspective. Pre-Law advising includes co-curricular support in LSAT preparation, dialogues on legal issues, and career planning.

Public Policy and Advocacy
This concentration prepares students for active civic engagement and teaches ways they can have an impact on local and national governments at the grassroots level. The program offers a concrete application of Ursuline's mission, as it calls students to identify their values, use their voice, and stretch their vision. In combination with numerous campus organizations, students have the opportunity to work with community partners to effect change in Northeast Ohio.

Political Science Fact Sheet

Degree Completion Plan

Course Requirements

Requirements for the Major
The Political Science major requires 36 credit hours. All students in the major are required to take 21 credits in these foundation courses: PO 106, 230, 420, 430, 475; MAT 212; and PH 331. In addition, all students in the major must select one of two concentrations, Pre-Law or Public Policy and Advocacy. In either concentration, students must take 3 courses, 3 credits each. The Pre-Law concentration includes PO 115, 210, and 310. The Public Policy and Advocacy concentration includes PO 220, 250, and 340. Also, all students in the major are required to select two courses, 3 credits each, from the following interdisciplinary offerings: PO 288/488, EC 102, EC 103, HI 208, HI/SO 215, HI 233, HI 342, PR 211, RS 360A, RS 360B, SO 319, SO 322, SW 318.

Requirements for the Minor
The Political Science minor requires 18 credit hours. All students in the minor are required to take 9 credits in these foundation courses: PO 106, PO 230, and PH 331. In addition, students in the minor must select 9 credits from these electives: PO 115, PO 210, PO 220, PO 250, PO 310, PO 340, PO 420 or PO 475.

Course Descriptions

PO 106
Introduction to American Government (3)
This survey course is designed to help students understand major institutions and processes of government as a critical part of U.S. culture, as well as the underlying values inherent in the U.S. political system.

PO 115
Introduction to Law (3)
This course is designed to acquaint the student with the basic concepts in civil and criminal law and the workings of the judicial system. Class study begins with a reading of the U.S. Constitution, combined with a focus on the court system and limitations on its power. The class also studies the institutional sources of American law, procedural aspects of a trial, concepts and cases in family law, tort law (both intentional and unintentional), and judicial remedies in both equitable and common law.

PO 210
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (3)
This course offers a systematic treatment of leading Supreme Court decisions in such areas as freedom of speech, the press, and religion; the rights of criminal defendants; voting rights; the right to privacy; and discrimination on the grounds of race or sexual orientation, age, and economic class, or other unjust basis. Prerequisite: Ursuline Studies Stage I anchors. Ursuline Studies Stage II American Culture satellite (AM).

PO 220
Civic Engagement (3)
This course complements the study of public policy by empowering students with the tools needed to make a difference in society. Included are theories of political participation, case studies of effective civic engagement, and projects in which students devise and present a strategy to address an issue affecting contemporary society. Prerequisite: PO 106

PO 230
International Relations (3)
This course is designed to help students understand and assess state actions in the realm of international relations, taking into consideration cultural, social, economic, political and philosophical/moral elements that influence a nation's decisions. Coursework also analyzes global issues affecting peace and examines the management of international conflict. Prerequisites: Ursuline Studies Stage I anchors. Ursuline Studies Stage II World Culture satellite (WO).

PO 250
Major Policy Issues (3)
This course anchors an examination of issues affecting contemporary U.S. society in five key areas: health, education, welfare, family, and cultural policy. Coursework introduces the student to various approaches to policy analysis, including cost-benefit and program evaluation. Prerequisite: Ursuline Studies Stage I anchors. Ursuline Studies Stage II American Culture satellite (AM).

PO 310/LS 310
Constitutional Law (3)
This course offers a comprehensive study and analysis of the United States Constitution; a study and review of court decisions which interpret the Constitution, especially decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States; an intensive analysis of the principles and theories which limit the authority and powers of state and local governments.

PO 340
Public Policymaking (3)
This course calls for a theoretical analysis of U.S. public policy and policymaking. Material includes a conceptual framework of various theories of public policymaking, applied to real-world political phenomena. Although grounded in the discipline of political science, the course draws on other social sciences, such as psychology, public relations, sociology, criminal justice, and public administration for a holistic study of the complex world of U.S. public policymaking. Prerequisites: Ursuline Studies Stage II anchors and PO 106.

PO 420
Political Science Research Methods (3)
This course examines how political scientists know what they know and what procedures they use to develop knowledge in the field. It is the "science" of "political science." Students study research design, measurement, sampling, and quantitative and qualitative analysis. The course is more conceptual than mathematical and more concerned with understanding, applying, and evaluating research than deriving statistical formulas. Prerequisite: MAT 212 and senior standing or consent of instructor.

PO 430
Law and Public Policy Seminar (3)
This advanced course in public policy serves as capstone for both the Pre-Law and the Public Policy and Advocacy (PPA) concentrations. The class culminates in a mock trial in which Pre-Law students act as staff (judges, attorneys, etc.), while PPA students assume the roles of litigants, witnesses, or interest groups. The course offers a practical platform for reviewing and applying material from previous coursework through an exploration of the role of the court system, especially the U.S. Supreme Court, in the creation, interpretation, implementation, and evaluation of public policy throughout U.S. history. Prerequisites: Senior standing with completion of all 100- to 300-level major requirements.

PO 475
Academic Internship (credit varies)
An off-campus learning experience to provide the student with the opportunity to relate academic and educational goals to learning experiences and situations beyond the limits of the classroom.

PO 288, 488
Special Topics (credit varies)
Topical study that expands the curriculum, with a focus determined by the faculty offering the course. Prerequisites: to be determined by instructor.

PO 199, 299, 399, 499

External Learning Assessment (credit varies)
Measurable and verifiable learning that has occurred outside of the traditional classroom. Numerical designation indicates level of proficiency in the topic. Courses for which there is an exact Ursuline College equivalent are listed by the appropriate numerical designation. The "PL" is listed before all course titles for which credit is granted through external learning assessment.