Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Political Science

Political Science

Political Science is the study of how people organize themselves to achieve their common interests. It includes analysis of governments, public policies, political systems and political behavior. It looks at when, why and how political systems work to produce sustainable economies, secure communities, and healthy and happy citizens – and the causes and solutions to problems like underdevelopment, inequality, oppression and violence. Political Science empowers students to create a better world by drawing on the best of the liberal arts tradition. It is both humanistic and scientific in its perspective and methods and thus equips students to understand and respond to human needs with technical acumen and scientific rigor.

Penn State Political Science graduates are serving as advisors to the State Department; as attorneys and management specialists in the Department of Justice; as speech writers, lobbyists and policy analysts on Capitol Hill – even in the United States Senate! Our alumni have built successful careers in business, and as lawyers, teachers, and journalists. Many are successful entrepreneurs, some work for NGOs, others are leaders of major corporations. You can learn from their experience through our alumni mentoring program.

Students can choose from a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science.

Political Science B.A.

Degree Requirements

The Bachelor of Arts in Political Science is a liberal arts degree designed to cultivate the broad knowledge, critical thinking and research and communication skills students need to be leaders in a complex and changing world. Students have wide latitude to customize their course work to their interest and career goals. Bachelor of Arts candidates are required to complete 12 credits of a language other than English in fulfillment of the University’s language requirement. Due to the flexibility of this program, many students choose to combine a BA in political science with another major in the College of the Liberal Arts or with policy relevant fields in STEM, business or Health and Human Development.

Political Science B.S.

Degree Requirements

The Bachelor of Science in Political Science is designed for students interested in how political scientists, policy analysts, pollsters and campaign strategists gather and analyze information to explain the political world, make predictions and solve problems. The curriculum builds research and data analysis skills that are attractive to employers and graduate school admissions committees. For example, students develop competency with statistical analysis software such as STATA and R, as well as with methods for gathering and analyzing information about the political and social world such as surveys and textual analysis. The Bachelor of Science degree does not require language courses. Students are required complete a research practicum, an internship, or a TA-ship.

What's the difference between a B.A. and a B.S.?

Students interested in the kinds of questions that political scientists ask, the best answers to those questions and how those answers can be applied in the world are well served by the Bachelor of Arts degree. The Bachelor of Science program is for students who are also – or primarily – interested in the methods political scientist use to develop answers to such questions.

Students completing the Bachelor of Arts degree could choose to take courses in research design and methods and graduate with the same skills as Bachelor of Science students. However, the Bachelor of Science program charts a clear path to acquiring those skills and does not require courses in a language other than English. Additionally, Bachelor of Science students develop and demonstrate their competence with data analysis through an internship, a TA ship or by supporting faculty research.