BA Political Science
WELCOME TO POLITICAL SCIENCE*
Political science is, in one sense, an ancient
discipline and, in another sense, one of the most recently developed social
sciences. In the past sixty years, many scholars have moved from philosophical
observations about politics to scientific observations about politics. This
movement has been marked by a widespread effort to collect data about politics
and governments using relatively new techniques developed by all the social
sciences. Its goals have been to describe and explain
political phenomena with greater accuracy. In short, political science today is
constantly seeking to make itself rigorous in its standards of scholarship,
more demanding in its standards of proof, and less ethnocentric in its
perspective of world politics.
Political science in the broadest sense is the
study of governments and political behavior, procedures and policies-including
"governments" which are sovereign states, international entities, or
subunits of political systems. Thus, political science has many facets.
Political Scientists are interested in the origins of and the preconditions for
governments, the growth and evolution of governments, the decline and conflicts
among governments. Political scientists also are interested in hoe governments
are structures, how governments make decisions, the policies that result from
the decisions and the consequences of those policies, and also how governments
manage societal and international conflicts.
Political scientists also study people: their
values and their positions on issues, their preferences among candidates, their
support for public officials, and their appraisals of their government. In
addition, true to their oldest academic traditions, political scientists retain
their concern with the fundamental question of how governments ought to be
constructed, and how they can best serve their people.
The study of political science has value in
several different ways. The Greek word "idiot" was used to refer to
one who took no interest in the affairs of state. Today, no less than twenty
centuries later, it is incumbent upon all useful citizens to learn something
about the political system in which they will spend their lives. Educated
people ought to know something of the nature of government even if they have no
professional interest in political science.
More than a minimum knowledge of the function of
political systems ought to be acquired by those who expect to have jobs that
will make them "representatives" of the political system itself.
Thus, anyone expecting to enter a career in law enforcement, teaching, the
civil service, the military, or the law has some social responsibility to
obtain an education in the nature of governmental processes. Finally, there are
some careers for which an extensive training in political science can be most
useful. This is true especially for those planning to seek careers in higher
education, the legal profession, state and local government, urban planning,
the federal bureaucracy, journalism, or in any of the proliferating
organizations that seek to monitor the political process to influence the
content of public policy.
Political science should help any student
develop seasoning and analytical skills and build competence in oral and
written expression. In addition, many departments of political science
encourage students to acquire skills in statistical analysis and computer
usage-training useful to students no matter what their ultimate career choices.
(* These remarks are excerpted from
"careers and the study of Political Science: A Guide For
Undergraduates," 5th ed., published by the American Political
WELCOME TO THE POLITICAL
AT NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS
We hope this handbook will assist both those already
undertaking work in the Department and those who are planning a major or minor
program in Political Science. To help you get to know our faculty, brief
biological sketches and their fields of interest are provided. Students club
and other organizations in the Department are described, briefly. Participation
in those organizations and their activities greatly enriches your experiences
at the University and in the Department.
The requirements for the Major and Minor
Programs are summarized. Brief descriptions of the major sub-fields within the
discipline are provided. Finally, some discussion
of career opportunities and strategies for preparation for those opportunities
is provided. More detailed and extensive discussion of these career issues are
available in the department office, from individual department members, and
from the University Placement Office.
The Placement Office assists Northeastern
students in developing appropriate career options, by referring undergraduates
(typically, late sophomores and juniors) to internship and co-operative
education opportunities. The office also prepares soon-to-graduate seniors and
graduate students for appropriate job placement. Many resources are available,
including instructional videos, books, magazines, and articles. The Resume
Expert System-a computerized program that assists in producing a personalized
and professional resume- is used to assist students and graduates in seeking
employment. Students who participate in this program will have their resume placed
on the Internet. Special services are available in resume writing and interview
skills workshops, on-campus interviews by recruiters, listing of job openings,
access to job fairs, and continually update job market reports and salary
Political Science is an excellent major for
anyone who is going to live their personal and professional life in a globally
We welcome you, and we welcome your suggestions
as how we can help each one of you.
Charles R. Pastors
Political Science is central to an understanding of
all basic social issues; therefore, an understanding of political life
is indispensable for any well-educated person.
The department currently offers an undergraduate major, a minor in political science, a minor in public administration, and a graduate program leading to the Master of Arts degree.
Areas of political science in which courses are
offered include American Politics and Public Affairs; International
Relations and Comparative Politics; and Political Theory. Within each
area, major themes are explored (e.g., public policy and
administration, political values and change, elite-mass relationships, )
Students interested in majoring in political science
are urged to register as a major at the departmental office early, to
meet with their advisors regularly, to check the current Schedule of
Classes each term, and to become well acquainted with the requirements
for political science majors. Information is available in the
The Constitution examination required for graduation may be satisfied by taking the following course:
PSCI-216 American National Government....................................3 cr
This course also fulfills the teachers’ certification requirement in American government and the Human Relations requirements.
Students should also be aware of the University
requirements for the Bachelor's degree. All students must complete a
minimum of 24 semester hours at the 300 level, and 18 at the 200- or
Major in Political Science for the Bachelor of Arts
Students majoring in political science must take at least 33 credit hours in political science.
Two introductory courses selected from:....................................6 cr.
PSCI-275 Introduction to World Politics
PSCI-251 Comparative Political Systems
PSCI-291 Concepts of Political Science
PSCI-216 American National Government
(These introductory courses are not open to majors in their senior year.)
PSCI-210 Introduction to Political Science..................................3 cr.
(PSCI-210 must be among the first four political science courses taken.)
Eight 300-level courses............................................................24 cr.
to be distributed among:
5 courses in one area of emphasis*
2 courses in a second area
1 course in a third area
Total 33 cr.
*The broad areas of emphasis recognized by the
department are American Politics and Public Affairs; International and
Comparative Politics; and Political Theory. These eight courses must be
at the 300-level.
Minor in Political Science (18 cr. hrs.)
A minor in political science may be structured to
complement a student’s major in another department or to develop an
area of interest. An assigned advisor will counsel a student in
choosing six appropriate courses.
The following two courses are required: One course
selected from PSC-275, PSCI-291, PSCI-251 or PSCI- 216; and the general
survey of the discipline, PSCI-210. At least three courses should be
taken at the 300-level.
Students in the Elementary Education and Early
Childhood Education programs who have selected this minor must complete
a minimum of 9 hours at the 300-level to meet graduation and
Students in the program should note that if you use
PSCI-216 American National Government to satisfy the Social and
Behavioral Science General Education requirement, you must add a course
to the Minor. In that case total credit hours will be 21.
This applies only to students in the Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education Programs.
Minor in Public Administration (18 cr. hrs.)
This minor will be of interest to students who would
like to broaden the career opportunities available to them, students
interested in public affairs and administration and students in
non-traditional programs, such as the Board of Governors program, who
wish to focus on governmental processes. Students who are also majoring
in Political Science are discouraged from minoring in Public Administration. Instead, public administration courses can be incorporated into their major program.
PSCI-216 American National Government.....................3 cr.
PSCI-341 Public Administration....................................3 cr.
At least two courses from the following:...........................................................6 cr.
PSCI-325 Public Policy............................................... 3 cr.
PSCI-344 Public Organization Theory.......................... 3 cr.
PSCI-345 Government Budgeting................................ 3 cr.
PSCI-346 Public Personnel Administration.................... 3 cr.
Two 300-level courses relevant to Public Administration
chosen with the aid of a departmental advisor,
including, if desired, one or two additional courses from the list of
Total 18 cr.
TIMETABLE FOR APPLICATION TO
GRADUATE OR LAW SCHOOLS
For admission to a graduate or professional
school in the Fall term of any year:
spring and summer of preceding year (i.e. approximately 16 or 17 mos.
before entry), review options with faculty members and narrow the filed of
possible schools to a reasonable dozen.
from these dozen possibilities (in summer) a graduate or law catalog,
financial aid information, and admissions form. This request may be
made on a post-card; it does not require a letter. Get a bunch of
stamped post-cards and make your request, with a clear name and address.
You will write to Graduate College at ____
University, or the School of Law
at ____ University.
you get the materials in the mail, read everything carefully, particularly
noting deadlines for applications when you are also requesting financial
assistance, such as a research assistantship or a fellowship. At this
point, you may also want to consult, in the Library, such references as
Peterson's Guide to Graduate Schools. Ask a reference librarian for
others. Most disciplines will also have a discipline specific guide,. The
American Political Science Association publishes a soft-cover book called Graduate
Faculty and Programs in Political Science. You may obtain one from the
Association at 1527 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W.
(202) 483-2512. This guide will also give you addresses of departments and
programs if you want to write to them specifically or to call the chair
listed in the guide. It will also allow you to see who are the faculty in
to decide which institutions are the best fit for you (perhaps 5-60): do
the faculty work in areas of interest to you (pump their names into the on-line
system and see what they have written); is there money available; is the
Graduate Record Examination required (graduate school) or the Law School
Aptitude Test (law school); what are minimum or average G.P.A.'s and GRE
and/or LSAT scores required; are there other idiosyncracies you need to be
aware of do you like the geographical and cultural location?
the GRE and/or LSAT application booklet. NOTE the application
deadlines for the October examination. It will usually be in late August
or early September (of the year before your year of entry). Put it on your
calendar. When you apply to take an exam , you will need to have the names
of the first, most likely schools to which you will apply. This is a
helpful service (to have scores sent automatically), but nor critical; you
can send scores later on your own initiative. You may want to take these
exams on a computer; student's experiences with doing the exams this way
differ. Ask around.
may or may not want to take a prep course in summer. They are expensive
($600 to $800 or so) and time-consuming. There are prep books available at
any large bookstore, including our Beck's, but the formal course may get
you over some tactical and test anxiety. This is a personal choice. If you
know you freeze on standardized tests, it may be a good idea. If you
generally do well on standardized tests, then perhaps the prep books (get
a couple) may be sufficient. BUT YOU DO NEED TO PREPARE. For the
GRE, if it has been years since you have done any mathematics or chart
reading, you will probably need to review these areas.
the October exams. There are December exams, but if you want money, they
will be too late for many schools. If all you need is admission, you may
take the December exam for most schools (but NOT all). The University of Wisconsin
is a very early school.
late fall, begin to get your reference letter requests out to faculty.
Decide on your applications BEFORE you do this so that you can give each
faculty member ALL of the reference requests in one packet. There is
nothing more irritating for a faculty member than to receive one request
one week, one the next, then one a month later. Most faculty will sit down
and write a partially generic letter on the computer, then tailor parts of
it to each school, and then hope to be done with the process. On rare
occasions, there is a need to make a last minute reference request. Go
ahead, but don't make it the practice rather then the exception. Give each
faculty member all the information he or she needs to write a good
reference: your full name, SS#, major/minor, special areas of interest,
course taken with the faculty member and what semester of what year, with
what final grade, any personal information that might be useful (have you
worked full-time through school, are you in the University Honors Program,
what is your cumulative G.P.A., do you play in a professional jazz band,
do you precinct work for your party, etc.) Try not to have to make rush
requests to faculty over the holiday break, or right at the start of the
on your references. Without being excessively aggressive, DO ASK
periodically if the reference has in fact gone out. If you have any doubt,
call the school. Applications will not be processed without the full
complement of references (and obviously, all other material, such as
transcripts in plenty of time and then check on them too. Most graduate
and professional schools require transcripts from EVERY undergraduate
institution you have attended. This is a pain, but it has to be endured.
very early begin to prepare drafts of "personal statements"
often required by the application. Get faculty and others to read and
critique it. Make absolutely sure that it is completely free of typos,
grammatical errors, horrible cliches, and of course, any falsehood. You
should not hand-write the application. It doesn't look good.
about it. It's earlier sequencing than you may read elsewhere, bit I have
found it helpful to students. Why not join the APSA? It's $39.00 for students. Do it now.