Areas of Concentration

Both the MA and the PhD in Political Science offer the opportunity for a broad understanding of the discipline.  However both degrees also offer students the opportunity to concentrate their studies in specific field areas.  MA students pursue an area of concentration and PhD students pursue a primary and secondary field from the following options.

American Government and Politics

The field of American government and politics studies the structure of the American system of governance, its institutions, processes for representation, and the broad dynamics of public policymaking. Students in this field will develop a thorough knowledge of the formal institutions of government, as well as an appreciation for the historical and philosophical foundations of the constitutional system, the societal factors that have shaped policymaking, and for the normative dimensions of democratic representation and effective government.

Professors Teaching in American Government and Politics

Courses in American Government

Comparative Politics

Comparative politics is both a field of study and a method of political analysis. It focuses on politics within and across nations. It examines and compares political systems and processes, political structures and institutions, political culture, development, civil society, democratization, as well as many of the challenging issues facing states today. Graduate (MA and PhD) students develop a solid understanding of how different kinds of political systems function and how to assess their impact on public policy and normative questions. They study the impact of culture and international politics upon political processes within nations; and they study the theory and methods for comparing nations. Students have the opportunity to focus on specific regions of the world as well as to develop a broad understanding of various types of political systems.

Professors Teaching in Comparative Politics

Courses in Comparative Politics

International Relations

The field of international relations is concerned both with relations that occur across national boundaries and with the patterns or structures according to which such relations take place. More specifically, international relations examines the actors, issues, and actions which have impacts beyond national boundaries. As an academic discipline, the field attempts to define these phenomena, explain the historical and present patterns of their occurrence, and illuminate the contexts in which certain patterns are likely to be experienced. As such, international relations looks not just to the actors and the systems within which their interactions take place, but it also attempts to ascertain how the particular systems evolved, why particular actors at one time or another have somehow dominated international affairs, and how in their interactions various actors have contributed to shaping issues and patterns in international affairs.

Professors Teaching in International Relations

Courses in International Relations

Public Policy

The field of public policy focuses on the various strategies and actions that governments adopt to achieve broadly accepted goals. The public policy process often is conceptualized as a cycle of activities that include problem definition, agenda setting, enactment, implementation, and evaluation. Advanced study of public policy draws on perspectives and methods that are rooted in not only political science, but also law, history, economics, and other disciplines to allow for a comprehensive understanding of policy development as well as outcomes. Based equally on social scientific tools and an appreciation of politics, it equips the policy analyst with the ability to provide advice to public officials and advocates so that informed decisions can be made about public policy alternatives. While the focus of this field is on policymaking in the United States, a cross-national and international perspective is also included. Courses in this field cover the policymaking process, policy analysis, and substantive policy areas.

Professors Teaching in Public Policy

Courses in Public Policy