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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
Topics include national security

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 national, local, and international levels. In McDaniel’s Political Science program, you’ll 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.

Political Science and International Studies covers a number of related fields and disciplines, including: law, legal systems and processes, governments, popular participation vehicles, political development, political violence, revolution, international relations, foreign and 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, and the Sorbonne in France.

It’s very common for students to finish McDaniel and then 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 1101 - Introduction to Political Science

A survey of political systems with an emphasis on theoretical principles of government and the citizen’s relationship to the state. The course will also examine the methodology of the discipline of political science, including various aspects of the political and governmental process.

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 2216 - United States Campaigns and Elections

An examination of the development of American election campaigns from party-based to candidate-centered and media-oriented. The course features in-depth coverage of the role of public opinion polling and its various strategic and tactical uses in campaign politics. Among the topics related to survey research will be sampling, question wording, questionnaire design, and analysis of the results.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Jasmin Chavez '19

Meet Our Students Class of 2019: Jasmin Chavez Get to Know a Green Terror

Jasmin Chavez '19 brought a League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) chapter to McDaniel and says it has been one of the most transformative experiences of her life. Having the opportunity to empower council members so that they can serve as advocates in their respective communities has transformed the way she views leadership.

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 faculty and staff in the news for Spring 2021

    McDaniel College faculty and staff do more than just educate students on the Hill. They are also experts in their fields.

  • Honors students present research at virtual Maryland Collegiate Honors Conference

    Four students represented McDaniel College at the Maryland Collegiate Honors Conference, “In Honors, Black Lives Matter,” held virtually on Feb. 26-27. McDaniel College Honors students Dalanda Diallo, Signe’ Kula, Maxwell Pardoe, and Raquel Sobczak were excited to have the opportunity to present at the conference and enjoyed hearing and learning of the stories and research from other presenters.

  • New National Security Fellows Program expands students’ career opportunities

    Cyber attacks. Pandemics. Hurricanes. Terrorism. Wildfires. Civil unrest. As threats to national security increasingly invade American lives, the need has never been greater for professionals in every field with the knowledge and analytical skills to respond to these risks. McDaniel’s new National Security Fellows Program meets this need head on, giving graduates an edge in a surging market of high-paying jobs in private corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies alike.