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Model UN group in Washington, DC.

Political Science

These are daunting and complex times in which we are living (climate change, racial injustice, growing inequality and a global pandemic). Studying political science provides the means with which to not only understand the pressing issues of the day but empowers one to actively engage in addressing them in cooperation with others to make a more just, equitable and peaceful world.

Degree Types
Major , Minor
Complementary Programs
Distinctive Requirements
Special Speaker Series
Town Halls with Members of Congress, Roundtables with Counter terrorism experts and Climate Policy Analysts

The study of politics as both an art and a science involves understanding how ancient, modern, and post-modern thinkers have come to understand the political world both philosophically and empirically; on the local, national, and international levels. In McDaniel’s Political Science program, students learn about the processes of government, the avenues for participation in the political system and in government, as well as the actors involved and the means by which they exercise power, influence, and authority (on the local, state, national and international) level.

Political Science and International Studies covers a number of related fields and disciplines, including: law, legal systems and processes, comparative government, popular participation, political development, political violence, revolution, international relations, foreign policy and national security.

Future Career Paths

Political Science graduates have gone on to great success in a variety of career fields. For example, one graduate is serving in a high-level capacity at the Department of Homeland Security working on counter-terrorism. Many work for the National Security Agency (having been recipients of the NSA Scholarship while at McDaniel). Several have gone abroad for graduate studies at The University of London’s School of African and Oriental Studies, the London School of Economics, Cambridge University, and the Sorbonne in France, in addition to graduate programs in the United States at many Universities (Georgetown, University of Virginia, UCLA, NYU). Many of our graduates work for the U.S. government in public policy positions ranging from the Department of State to the Department of Justice. Graduates of this department also work for non-governmental organizations on Environmental Policy, Human Rights and Social Justice.

McDaniel's Political Science Graduates frequently go on to:

  • Graduate schools
  • Law schools
  • Careers in government (at the local, state, or national levels)
  • Development work with non-governmental organizations
  • Advocacy groups
  • Journalism
  • Lobbying

Distinctive Courses

PSI 1116 - Children on the Move

The aim of this course is to give students a good overall understanding of the current migrant crisis in Europe with a special focus on the experience, status and rights of unaccompanied migrant children. It will provide insights into basic concepts of migration, human rights and children’s rights; students will explore different narratives behind child migration and consider the challenges of this specialized form of child advocacy in practice.  The course will use Hungary as a case study, with one or two field trips, interviews and discussions with experts. Students will also have the opportunity to develop their own assessment and recommendations on policy in light of the situation in Hungary and based on comparative perspectives.

PSI 2206 - American Political Thought

This course deals with the origins and development of political ideas in America, with a focus on ideologies including liberalism, republicanism, and racial ideologies. The course also addresses theories including libertarianism, socialism, feminism, and democratic theory. Readings range from the federalist and antifederalist papers, to presidential speeches, to contemporary works of political philosophy. The course gives students a foundational basis to understand and engage critically in American politics and political culture.

PSI 2213 - Comparative Politics of Europe

A comparative methodological analysis of the Western European governments of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany with an emphasis on systems analysis, political culture, structural-functionalism, and elite analysis. All three polities are members of the European Union which is also analyzed with relation to the regional integration of Europe.

PSI 3306 - National Security in a Changing World

A survey of the international and domestic factors that shape contemporary U.S. national security policy and strategy. The course provides a brief introduction to traditional conceptions of military strategy and the use of force, examines the extent to which domestic political factors influence national security policy-making, and explores the merits and shortfalls of future national security strategies. Topics discussed include civil-military relations, leadership and accountability, terrorism, peacemaking and peacekeeping, and resource management.

Pre-Law at McDaniel

Political Science is the most popular major at McDaniel for Pre-Law students and PSI faculty member Matthew Mongiello serves as the College’s Pre-Law advisor. Students interested in law should meet with Professor Mongiello and are encouraged to take the department’s courses in American Constitutional Law, American Civil Liberties, and International Law & Organization.

Learn more about Preparing for Law School

Special Opportunities

Learning by doing is one of the hallmarks of McDaniel’s Political Science program. And because of our location near the nation’s capital, you’ll have a number of opportunities to see politics in action.

American Flag

Washington Semester Programs of The American University

Students attend a full semester in one of American Universities Washington Semester Programs, and have an internship in any one of the many organizations of government & non-government establishments in D.C. Programs also have travel components to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

Valerie Lamb ’18 at her summer internship at the U.S. Mint.

Washington Center Internship Program

The Washington Center sponsors yearly programs on such subjects as the presidency, Congress, executive leadership, political campaigns, the legal system, and more. These usually last two to three weeks and are held in Washington, D.C.

COMPELLING SPEAKER SERIES Opportunities in National Security Gain Career Knowledge

Alexa Noruk speaks to Political Science students about national security

Alexa Noruk Director of Homeland Security

Alexa Noruk is the Director of Homeland Security at the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Prior to joining this committee in 2017, she worked as the Director of Government Relations for the National Emergency Management Association and in a number of instrumental roles for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She is an expert in the fields of Homeland Security, Emergency Management policy, Legislative Procedure, and Bill Drafting.

Drawing upon her current and past career experiences, Alexa Noruk discussed some of the most pressing homeland security issues of the day with McDaniel Political Science students, including domestic terrorism and violent extremism; the country’s national security and intelligence community; her own impressive professional background within both the legislative and the civil service side of government; and potential career paths for students interested in these fields.

Patrick Robbins speaking to Political Science students about national security

Patrick Robbins '15 Deputy Program Manager and Senior All Source Intelligence Analyst

Patrick Robbins is Deputy Program Manager and Senior All Source Intelligence Analyst at the Buffalo Group. Prior to joining this company in 2018, he has worked extensively with the government, the military, and the private sector in the field of intelligence. Patrick served in the United States Army from 2003 to 2010, including time in Iraq, and graduated with Honors from McDaniel College with a major in Political Science and International Studies in 2015.

In his talk, Patrick Robbins shared his veteran knowledge about the fields of intelligence and exploitation of conventional and unconventional weapons, including some of the most current issues in these areas and his own recent experiences in the field. He also discussed how the intelligence industry works and the different possible pathways that students can pursue to enter into this area of work.

The McDaniel Commitment in Action

The McDaniel Commitment—a series of opportunities guaranteed to all students—provides enhanced mentoring and coaching, and ensures every undergraduate student completes at least two meaningful experiential learning opportunities.

Max Sweeney

Meet a Green Terror Class of 2024: Max Sweeney

Politics and poetry are two of Max Sweeney’s passions, and they found every opportunity to find a like-minded community on the Hill. Max studied abroad with a Jan Term in Greece, the birthplace of democracy; joined the Maryland Student Legislature; founded the Poetry Club; and invented new kinds of events for their fellow students through Green Terror Programs.

"The opportunities that McDaniel has given me have shown me that I am capable of doing the things I love."

Stephanie Portillo Class of 2023

Student Spotlight Class of 2023: Stephani Portillo Get to Know a Green Terror

Political Science and Self-Designed French Studies major Stephanie Portillo found independence at McDaniel — and abroad during a Jan Term. A National Security Fellow and Global Fellow, Stephani’s senior capstone examined the impact of political policies and the MS-13 gang in El Salvador. With mentorship from professors like Christianna Leahy, Gerard Keubeung, and Martine Motard-Noar, she learned to always ask questions and to dream big.

Professor Christianna Leahy pictured with Dr. Mongiello and Dr. Cornell West

Faculty Spotlight Christianna Nichols Leahy Professor and Department Chair

Professor Leahy teaches such wide-ranging topics as Comparative Politics of Europe, Peacemaking and Peacekeeping in the Post 9/11 World, and Revolutions from 1789 to Occupy Wall Street. She is a human rights activist who has served on the boards of several prominent international organizations, and has expertise in International Humanitarian Law. Every year she takes students to a Model European Union.

Recent News for Political Science

  • McDaniel selects new Global Fellows and National Security Fellows

    McDaniel College selects students into the Global Fellows and National Security Fellows programs. Global Fellows is an academic and co-curricular opportunity that empowers students to explore the world and create a global portfolio while the National Security Fellows Program provides McDaniel students with robust knowledge, skills, and experience in national security.
  • McDaniel students travel to Annapolis for Maryland Independent Higher Education Day

    A group of eight students from McDaniel College accompanied by McDaniel College President Julia Jasken and Matthew Mongiello, assistant professor of Political Science, participated in “Maryland Independent Higher Education Day” in Annapolis, Maryland, on Wednesday, Feb. 21.
  • McDaniel College students participate in Model European Union 2023

    McDaniel College students participated in the Model European Union 2023 Simulation in Washington, D.C., Nov. 9-11. A delegation of seven students represented Sweden and were accompanied by Christianna N. Leahy, chair of the Political Science and International Studies department at McDaniel.