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2012-2013 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Political Science - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences section in this catalog.

Chair: Richards. Professors: Constantelos, Diven, King; Associate Professors: Cornish, Mangala, Miller-Adams, Richards, Tafel, Walhof; Assistant Professors: Kilburn, Schlewitz, Schneider, Walker, Zhao, Zinman; Affiliate Professor: Moiles.


The central aim of the political science program is to achieve a well-rounded undergraduate knowledge of the discipline. Political science is a liberal education major. At GVSU, political science students learn to analyze political phenomena from the perspectives of the four major disciplinary subfields: political theory, American politics, comparative politics, and international relations.

The department offers many courses that deal specifically with the U.S. government. These include Congress and the presidency, state politics, American election campaigns, mass media, political parties and interest groups, judicial politics, and constitutional law. The department also offers courses in international and comparative politics, including international relations, European politics, Chinese politics, African politics, U.S. foreign policy, and politics of developing areas. Political theory courses include courses in classical, modern, contemporary and U.S. political thought. In almost all cases, classes are small and students receive a great deal of individual attention.

Career Opportunities

The career goals of political science majors include professions directly related to public policy making and administration at all levels of government, business and consulting, teaching of political science, diplomacy and foreign affairs, and leadership in issue advocacy, mass communication and public opinion. Students also go on to graduate or professional study in law, political science, international relations, and business. Political science is not a professional degree program.

The department coordinates closely with GVSU Career Services to provide seminars, events, and advising related to careers. The department also coordinates with the Laker Jobs website to list employment and internship opportunities. Students are highly recommended to perform an internship as part of their career preparation.

For a detailed career guide, see

Graduate School Opportunities

Students go on to graduate or professional study in law, political science, public administration, international relations, education and business.

For information on law school see
For information on graduate school, see the career guide at


In addition to classroom work, students participate in a variety of internship opportunities, including working in local law firms, the Michigan office of U.S. representatives and senators, or in a variety of political offices in Lansing, including the state house and state senate, the Governor's office, state political parties, and legislative research offices. Students also serve as interns for local, national, and international nonprofit organizations. Students can earn up to six credits in the intern program. The emphasis of the program is on broadening students' experience and knowledge about politics through a practical involvement that is firmly founded on and tied to strong academic curricula.

A faculty member coordinates the internship program. Students also have the opportunity to perform an internship and learn in Washington D.C. through our GV in DC program, a partnership program with The Washington Center.

GVSU political science and international relations majors have access to GVSU's Laker Jobs site.

To get started, click on the internships link at

For information on the GV in DC program see:

Scholarship Opportunities

The John T. Batchelder Political Science Scholarship honors John Thayer Batchelder who served as Grand Valley State University professor until his retirement in 1997. The scholarship goes to a junior in political science and is renewable for an additional year.

Every year the GVSU Department of Political Science runs the Henry Internship competition. The Henry Internship places a GVSU student -- the Henry Scholar -- in the Washington, D.C., office of one of Michigan's Representatives or Senators during the spring/summer academic session. The Paul. B. Henry Foundation pays a stipend of at least $2,000 to defray the costs of travel and living expenses, and interns get academic credit for their work. The GVSU Alumni Association's DC Chapter adds a special dimension to the program through mentorship and support of GVSU interns.

For more information see the scholarships page at

Student Organizations

GVSU student organizations related to political science and/or advised by political science faculty include:

Student Senate
College Democrats
College Republicans
International Relations Organization
Law Society
Amnesty International

Honors Organizations

Phi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, was established at the University of Texas in 1920. It is the only national honor society for college and university students of government. There are currently 621 chapters of Pi Sigma Alpha around the United States, including the Kappa Phi chapter at Grand Valley State University.

Initiation into Pi Sigma Alpha is a prestigious award for upper division students who have demonstrated consistent excellence in political science and related majors and minors. Initiation into Pi Sigma Alpha also establishes one's eligibility to participate in Pi Sigma Alpha scholarship and internship grant programs, and to publish research in the Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics. For information about eligibility requirements and campus activities contact Paul J. Cornish, Advisor to the Kappa Phi chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha at (616) 331-3502 or [email protected]

The following programs are available:

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Political Science

Legal Education Admission Program (LEAP), Political Science

Political Science Minor

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