Academic Programs Catalog

College of Social Science

Department of Political Science

Charles Ostrom, Chairperson


As a science, political science is concerned with theories, research methods, and facts as they relate to understanding political processes and phenomena. In particular, political science studies the distribution of power in groups, parties, institutions, governments, and international organizations.  As a field of study, political science asks who has power, how did they get it, and why the exercise of power benefits some more than others.  On both the American and international stages, political science prepares students to confront vital issues, raise critical perspectives, and explore new methodologies in the study of the fundamental concepts of power and change.

 


Undergraduate Programs

The undergraduate majors in political science are designed to provide students with a broad education in political and other social sciences with the analytical skills essential in many professions. The wide range of career opportunities open to political science graduates includes administrative positions in local, state, and federal government, or in public and private agencies; work with citizen's action groups and voluntary organizations; employment in the foreign service and various governmental and private international agencies; and careers as teachers and policy analysts. Because additional training beyond the bachelor's  degree is necessary for some careers, many students in political science plan to attend law or graduate school. Qualified undergraduate political science majors who want to pursue professional careers in policy analysis, program management or policy advocacy, can complete both their bachelor's and master's degrees in a total of five years through the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Degree in Public Policy.

Students in the Department of Political Science may select one of the following majors:

  1. Political Science (General)
  2. Political Science—Prelaw
  3. Public Administration
  4. World Politics



Political Science - General

Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science (General)

  1. The University requirements for bachelor's degrees as described in the Undergraduate Education section of this catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science (General).

    The University's Tier II writing requirement for the Political Science (General) major is met by completing the following course:  Political Science 422.  That course is referenced in item 3. a. (4) below.
  2. The requirements of the College of Social Science for the Bachelor of Arts degree.
  3. The following requirements for the major:
    a. The following courses in the Department of Political Science (34 credits):
    (1) Two of the following courses (6 credits):
    PLS 100 Introduction to American Politics 3
    PLS 140 Introduction to Comparative Politics 3
    PLS 160 Introduction to International Relations 3
    PLS 170 Introduction to Political Philosophy 3
    (2) All of the following courses (12 credits):
    PLS 200 Introduction to Political Science 4
    PLS 201 Introduction to Methods of Political Analysis 4
    PLS 392 Special Topics in Political Science 4
    (3) At least four additional political science courses at the 300–400 level to total at least 12 credits. Only one of the following courses may be counted toward this requirement:
    PLS 494 Field Experience in Political Science
    or
    PLS 495 Independent Study
    (4) The following course (4 credits):
    PLS 422 Seminar in Political Science (W) 4
    NOTE: Of the courses taken to satisfy the requirements for 3.a. (1) and 3. a. (3), at least two courses must be in American politics (PLS 100 and PLS 301-339), at least two courses must be in comparative/international politics (PLS 140, PLS 160, PLS 342-359, and PLS 361-369), and at least two courses must be in political philosophy (PLS 170 and PLS 370-379). Students should consult with their academic advisor with questions concerning this requirement.


Political Science - Prelaw

The prelaw major is designed to introduce students to the study of law and the judicial process and at the same time to provide an orientation to the law which is more general than that of most law schools. Students who elect this program may plan careers in (1) government and large businesses, (2) law firms, (3) individual or partnership practice of civil law, (4) trial practice, including criminal law, and (5) teaching. Since very few law schools provide information about the political, economic, societal and psychological environment in which the law exists, this background must generally be acquired prior to or after law school. The prelaw major is intended to give students the analytical skills and substantive background in those courses which will most likely contribute to their development.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science–Prelaw

  1. The University requirements for bachelor's degrees as described in the Undergraduate Education section of this catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science–Prelaw.

    The University's Tier II writing requirement for the Political Science—Prelaw major is met by completing the following course:  Political Science 422.  That course is referenced in item 3.a.(5) below.
  2. The requirements of the College of Social Science for the Bachelor of Arts degree.
  3. The following requirements for the major:
    a. The following courses in the Department of Political Science (34 credits)
    (1) All of the following courses (15 credits):
    PLS 100 Introduction to American Politics 3
    PLS 200 Introduction to Political Science 4
    PLS 201 Introduction to Methods of Political Analysis 4
    PLS 392 Special Topics in Political Science 4
    (2) One of the following courses (3 credits):
    PLS 140 Introduction to Comparative Politics 3
    PLS 160 Introduction to International Relations 3
    PLS 170 Introduction to Political Philosophy 3
    (3) One of the following courses (3 credits):
    PLS 320 Judicial Politics 3
    PLS 321 Constitutional Law 3
    (4) At least three additional political science courses at the 300–400 level to total at least 9 credits. Only one of the following courses may be counted toward this requirement:
    PLS 494 Field Experience in Political Science
    or
    PLS 495 Independent Study
    (5) The following course (4 credits):
    PLS 422 Seminar in Political Science (W) 4
    NOTE: Of the courses taken to satisfy the requirements for 3.  a. (2) and 3. a. (4), at least two courses must be in comparative/international politics (PLS 140, PLS 160, PLS 342-359, and PLS 361-369), and at least two courses must be in political philosophy (PLS 170 and PLS 370-379). One of the comparative/international politics courses may be a course from an approved list of courses, offered outside the Department of Political Science. The approved list of comparative/international politics courses is available in the Department of Political Science. Students should consult with their academic advisor with questions concerning this requirement.


Public Policy

The Public Policy major is designed to prepare students for careers in public service, advocacy, and analysis. It aims at a broad understanding of the goals and problems of public policy, the political process that leads to policy development, and the implementation and evaluation of public policy. The major is valuable preparation for those who intend to engage in research for public agencies, non-profits, or voluntary associations interested in the problems of government. A master’s degree program concentrating in public policy is also available for advanced work in preparation for an executive career in these fields.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Policy

  1. The University requirements for bachelor's degrees as described in the Undergraduate Education section of this catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy.

    The University's Tier II writing requirement for the Public Policy  major is met by completing  Political Science 422.  That course is referenced in item 3. below.
  2. The requirements of the College of Social Science for the Bachelor of Arts degree.
  3. The following requirements for the major:
    a. All of the following courses in the Department of Political Science (34 credits)
    (1) All of the following courses (18 credits):
    PLS 100 Introduction to American Politics 3
    PLS 200 Introduction to Political Science 4
    PLS 201 Introduction to Methods of Political Analysis 4
    PLS 392 Special Topics in Political Science 4
    PLS 494 Field Experience in Political Science 3
    (2) One of the following courses (3 credits):
    PLS 310 Public Administration and Policy Making 3
    PLS 313 American Public Policy 3
    (3) Three of the following courses (9 credits):
    PLS 301 American State Government 3
    PLS 302 Urban Politics 3
    PLS     310 Public Administration and Policy Making 3
    PLS 313 American Public Policy 3
    PLS 324 Congress 3
    PLS 325 The Presidency 3
    PLS 331 Political Parties and Interest Groups 3
    PLS 342 Comparative Political Economy 3
    PLS 362 American Foreign Policy and National Security 3
    PLS 363 International and Domestic Political Conflict 3
    PLS 364 Politics of the United Nations and International Organizations 3
    (4) The following course (4 credits):
    PLS 422 Seminar in Political Science (W) 4


World Politics

The Bachelor of Arts degree in World Politics is designed to educate students about governments and political systems of many different nations and the interactions among them. It will prepare students for careers in international affairs in the public, private, and non-profit spheres. The major allows students to study the regions of the world that most interest them but also provides broad coverage of international relations and comparative politics.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree in World Politics

  1. The University requirements for bachelor’s degrees as described in the  Undergraduate  Education section of this catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Arts degree in World Politics.

    The University’s Tier II writing requirement for the World Politics major is met by completing Political Science 422.  That course is referenced in item 3. below.
  2. The requirements of the College of Social Science for the Bachelor of Arts degree.
  3. The following requirements for the major:
a. All of the following courses in the Department of Political Science (34 credits):
(1) All of the following courses (18 credits):
PLS 140 Introduction to Comparative Politics 3
PLS 160 Introduction to International Relations 3
PLS 200 Introduction to Political Science 4
PLS 201 Introduction to Methods of Political Analysis 4
PLS 392 Special Topics in Political Science 4
(2) Four of the following courses (12 credits):
PLS 342 Comparative Political Economy 3
PLS 344 Politics of Developing Areas 3
PLS 345 Religion and World Politics 3
PLS 346 Middle East Politics 3
PLS 347 Democratic Regimes 3
PLS 351 African Politics 3
PLS 352 Latin American Politics 3
PLS 354 Politics of Asia 3
PLS 356 Politics of Europe and the European Union 3
PLS 357 Politics of English Speaking Democracies 3
PLS 358 Politics of the U.S.S.R. and Its Successor States 3
PLS 362 American Foreign Policy and National Security 3
PLS 363 International and Domestic Political Conflict 3
PLS 364 Politics of the United Nations and International Organizations 3
(3) The following course (4 credits):
PLS 422 Seminar in Political Science (W) 4


Teacher Certification Options

A political science disciplinary minor is available for teacher certification and is available only to students pursuing a major in Comparative Cultures and Politics, International Relations, Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy, Social Relations and Policy, Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science, Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science: Social Science Education, or History with a teacher certification option.

Students who elect the political science disciplinary minor must contact the Department of Political Science.

For additional information, refer to the statement on TEACHER CERTIFICATION in the Department of Teacher Education section of this catalog.

 


Linked Bachelor's-Master's Degree in Public Policy

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics
Master of Public Policy Degree in Public Policy

The department welcomes applications from  Michigan State University Economics undergraduate students during the fall semester of their junior year in order to begin the program during the fall semester of their senior year.  Admission to the program requires a minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.50 and an approved program of study for the Master of Public Policy degree in Public Policy at the time of admission. Admission to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program allows the application of up to 9 credits toward the master’s program for qualifying 400-level and above course work taken at the undergraduate level at Michigan State University or an external accredited institution. The number of approved credits, not to exceed 9, are applied toward the credit requirement of the master’s degree. Credits applied to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program are not eligible to be applied to any other graduate degree program.

 


Linked Bachelor's-Master's Degree in Public Policy

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science (General)
Master of Public Policy Degree in Public Policy

The department welcomes applications from  Michigan State University Political Science (General) undergraduate students during the fall semester of their junior year in order to begin the program during the fall semester of their senior year.  Admission to the program requires a minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.50 and an approved program of study for the Master of Public Policy degree in Public Policy at the time of admission. Admission to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program allows the application of up to 9 credits toward the master’s program for qualifying 400-level and above course work taken at the undergraduate level at Michigan State University or an external accredited institution. The number of approved credits, not to exceed 9, are applied toward the credit requirement of the master’s degree. Credits applied to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program are not eligible to be applied to any other graduate degree program.

 


Linked Bachelor's-Master's Degree in Public Policy

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science-Prelaw
Master of Public Policy Degree in Public Policy

The department welcomes applications from  Michigan State University Political Science-Prelaw undergraduate students during the fall semester of their junior year in order to begin the program during the fall semester of their senior year.  Admission to the program requires a minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.50 and an approved program of study for the Master of Public Policy degree in Public Policy at the time of admission. Admission to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program allows the application of up to 9 credits toward the master’s program for qualifying 400-level and above course work taken at the undergraduate level at Michigan State University or an external accredited institution. The number of approved credits, not to exceed 9, are applied toward the credit requirement of the master’s degree. Credits applied to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program are not eligible to be applied to any other graduate degree program.

 


Linked Bachelor's-Master's Degree in Public Policy

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Policy
Master of Public Policy Degree in Public Policy

The department welcomes applications from  Michigan State University Public Policy undergraduate students during the fall semester of their junior year in order to begin the program during the fall semester of their senior year.  Admission to the program requires a minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.50 and an approved program of study for the Master of Public Policy degree in Public Policy at the time of admission. Admission to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program allows the application of up to 9 credits toward the master’s program for qualifying 400-level and above course work taken at the undergraduate level at Michigan State University or an external accredited institution. The number of approved credits, not to exceed 9, are applied toward the credit requirement of the master’s degree. Credits applied to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program are not eligible to be applied to any other graduate degree program.

 


Linked Bachelor's-Master's Degree in Public Policy

Bachelor of Arts Degree in World Politics
Master of Public Policy Degree in Public Policy


The department welcomes applications from  Michigan State University Public Policy undergraduate students during the fall semester of their junior year in order to begin the program during the fall semester of their senior year.  Admission to the program requires a minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.50 and an approved program of study for the Master of Public Policy degree in Public Policy at the time of admission. Admission to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program allows the application of up to 9 credits toward the master’s program for qualifying 400-level and above course work taken at the undergraduate level at Michigan State University or an external accredited institution. The number of approved credits, not to exceed 9, are applied toward the credit requirement of the master’s degree. Credits applied to the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program are not eligible to be applied to any other graduate degree program.


Graduate Study

The Department of Political Science offers a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy degree program in Political Science and a Master of Public Policy degree program in Public Policy.

The graduate degree programs in the Department of Political Science are designed to help students become thoroughly grounded in the knowledge base and research methods of political science. Training is given in the following major fields of political science:  American politics, comparative politics, international politics, public policy, political thought, formal theory, and research methodology.

The Department of Political Science and the Department of Economics jointly offer a Master of Public Policy Degree, as well as Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Degree in Public Policy.  The Master of Public Policy Degree and the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Degree in Public Policy provide students with the requisite skills to address complex societal problems, reconcile conflicting political and ethical values in policymaking, make informed decisions about program activities, and provide effective leadership in policy development and implementation.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Social Science, graduate students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

A bachelor's degree from an accredited educational institution is required for admission. Applicants should have the equivalent of an undergraduate major in political science, in a related social science, or in mathematics, statistics, or computer science. Some background in social science research methods, statistics, and/or basic mathematical operations is recommended. Normally, a minimum grade–point average of 3.20 in the last two years of undergraduate work is required for admission.

Applicants must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test. Official results from this examination should be sent to the Department of Political Science. 

Admission to the doctoral program is limited to fall semester only.  For the Master of Public Policy program, most students are admitted for fall semester; applications for the spring semester will be considered on the basis of available openings. Applications for admission and financial aid should be submitted by March 1. Applications for admission alone will be accepted until approximately May 15.

Academic Standards

Graduate students must maintain a cumulative grade–point average of at least 3.00. Only those courses completed with a grade of 2.5 or higher may be counted toward the requirements for the master's or doctoral degree. A student who received two grades of 2.5 or below, or one grade of 2.0 or below, may be withdrawn from the program. A student who received three grades of 2.5 or below, or two grades of 2.0 or below, will be withdrawn from the program.



Political Science - Master of Arts

The Master of Arts program is designed to prepare students for doctoral studies. Those accepted are judged by the committee on admissions as qualified to enter the doctoral program, and it is anticipated they plan to complete this program at Michigan State University.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university, of the College of Social Science, and of the Department of Political Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in Political Science

The program is available only under Plan B (without thesis).  The student must meet the requirements specified below: 

  1. Complete at least 30 credits distributed as follows:
    1. At least 24 credits in Political Science courses at the 800–900 level including Political Science 800, 801, and 802
    2. No more than 6 credits in courses at the 400–900 level in related disciplines
  2. Submit two substantial research papers acceptable to the department.  These papers normally will be written in graduate seminars in Political Science and will be evaluated by the instructor(s) of the courses.

    With the written approval of the department, a student may complete fewer than 24 credits in Political Science courses and more than 6 credits in courses in related disciplines.

Academic Standards

The student must maintain an overall grade–point average of 3.00 or higher.

Transfer Credits

For Law College students who have been admitted to the dual J.D.-M.A. program with Michigan State University -  College of Law, a maximum of 12 credits from Michigan State University - College of Law may be transferred to the M.A. program with a major in political science. A grade of 2.0 in a Law course will transfer to MSU as a passing grade. Students will be assessed at the Law College tuition rate with a graduate assistantship covering only the MSU cost of in-state tuition.

 

 


Public Policy - Master of Public Policy

The Master of Public Policy degree in Public Policy is designed to provide students with theoretical knowledge and specific skills essential for professional achievement in the public and non-profit sectors. The objective of this program is to develop an analytical approach to the public decision-making process through the systematic study of policy and policy analysis. Current professionals in the field of public policy or others who are interested in a career in public policy in the non-profit sector or in government will find this program appealing.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university, the College of Social Science, and the Department of Political Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Requirements for the Master of Public Policy Degree in Public Policy

The program is available only under Plan B (without thesis).  The student must complete 39 credits in courses approved by the director of the Master in Public Policy program and distributed as follows:

               
1. Complete all of the following courses:  
  PPL 801 Quantitative Methods in Public Policy 3
  PPL 802 Quantitative Methods in Public Policy II 3
  PPL 805 Microeconomic Theory 3
  PPL 806 Policy Evaluation 3
  PPL 807 Public Policy 3
  PPL 808 Policy Development and Administration 3
  PPL 813 Public Finance 3
  PPL 890 Policy Workshop 3
  PPL 891 Issues in Public Policy 6
2. Complete an additional 9 credits of course work at the 800-level or above as approved by the director of the program.  
3. Students with no professional experience will be required to complete 3 credits of Public Policy 894 Field Experience Practicum.  
4. Successful completion of a final examination or evaluation.  



Political Science - Doctor of Philosophy

The doctoral degree is generally undertaken by students wishing to teach political science and government at the college level and by those seeking professional careers in political and social research. Special attention is given at the doctoral level to intensive training in political research.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university, of the College of Social Science, and of the Department of Political Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Political Science

The doctoral student must:

1. Earn at least 45 credits in political science courses including:
a. All of the following courses (15 credits):
PLS 800 Proseminar: Political Theory and Research Methods 3
PLS 801 Quantitative Techniques in Public Policy and Political Science I 3
PLS 802 Quantitative Techniques in Public Policy and Political Science II 3
PLS 803 Political Thought 3
PLS 809 Proseminar in Formal Theory 3
b. At least four courses in a major field, approved by the student's guidance committee, selected from one of the following political science fields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, public policy or political philosophy.
c. At least three courses in a minor field, approved by the student's guidance committee, selected from one of the following political science fields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political philosophy, public policy, research methodology, or formal theory.
2. Pass a comprehensive examination in both the major and minor field.
3. Successfully write and defend a doctoral dissertation in a public oral examination.

Additional requirements and evaluations are described in the Ph.D. Handbook on the department's Web site at www.pls.msu.edu.

Academic Standards

Academic standards for the Doctor of Philosophy degree program are described in the Ph.D. Handbook on the department's Web site at www.pls.msu.edu.