Courses and Path Through the Major

The Political Science Department offers courses in four subfields: American Politics and Public Policy; Comparative Politics; International Relations; and Political Theory. There is also a required course in Analyzing Politics and Policy. Political science course descriptions and requirements are listed in the current St Olaf College Catalog.

You will take nine classes towards completion of your political science major. We invite you to plan them as a whole set that allows you to graduate from St Olaf having gained all of the following:

  1. Understanding of political institutions and processes, both domestic and international.
  2. Understanding of normative and explanatory theories, both classic and contemporary, concerning the state, society, and justice.
  3. Familiarity with diverse geographic, ethnic, racial, gender-based, cultural, and temporal perspectives on political issues and public life.
  4. The ability to develop an argument, and to support it with scholarly and empirical evidence, in clear and engaging prose.
  5. The capacity to be knowledgeable, thoughtful, and effective citizens.

While considering your path through the major, please reflect on the following questions:

  • Which classes most interest you? How do you think they will help you meet these goals? Which co-curricular activities might support your path through the major?
  • Will language study and/or study off campus be part of your political science education?
  • How will you choose courses that enrich and complement your political science studies? Anthropology, economics, history, philosophy, sociology, statistics are the most common, but the liberal arts ethos may call you in different directions.

Keep track of your progress towards these goals, and the formal requirements of the major, for each advising visit. You might also use your replies to these questions when you write about your political science major in internship, graduate school and job applications.