Online Political Science Minor

What do Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Peter Wentz, Elisabeth Shue, Rachel Maddow, Mia Hamm, Aisha Tyler and Rebecca Lobo all have in common? They studied political science.

With an online political science minor from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, you will better understand the political processes and current events. The study of political science is concerned with the ways in which politics and power coincide, overlap and transform. The political science minor incorporates a variety of areas such as history, religion, English, writing, philosophy and ethics.

The Political Science minor is a useful addition to any program of study for students wanting a better understanding of political processes and current events. Political science is a study in liberal arts – it incorporates a variety of areas such as history, religion, English, writing, philosophy and ethics. The study of political science is, at its most basic, concerned with the ways in which politics and power coincide, overlap and transform. While many people assume that political science is primarily concerned with governments, it can also address corporations, nonprofits, social groups and even individuals. Political science examines governmental behaviors and policies as well as the actions of groups that have joined together in support of or in opposition to a common cause.

A rigorous scientific study of how politics operates has a wide range of applications. Not only does the field seek to understand the relationships between governments, but it also studies the rights and responsibilities of the citizens themselves. Careers in public administration and political activity are available for graduates with knowledge of the discipline of political science.

Other employment opportunities might be in political campaigns, any branch of government, a non-profit organization, a politically-based website, government relations in for-profit or not-for-profit organizations, schools, magazines, political parties or teaching. These employers look for those who studied political science.

For more information about the department visit the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Political Science Minor - (18 credit hours)

Required Courses

12 credit hours required; all courses listed.

Study of the origin and development of the United States Constitution from the eighteenth century to the present; shows how the era and social and political conditions affected constitutional evolution; judicial appointments and their impact on Supreme Court decisions which shape contemporary and future society.

Introduces the study of political science, demonstrating those aspects of human behavior which the political scientist examines and the research tools employed. Explores the nature and purpose of politics, and patterns of authority, citizenship and political change. The goal is a solid theoretical framework for use in studying both American institutions and processes and other political systems in the world today.

Surveys the United States federal structure of government and the political processes which undergird and mold this structure. Emphasizes contemporary issues, policy-making and the relationship of the United States system to those of other modern governments.

Studies the constitutional basis, organization and workings of state and local government. Emphasizes the interrelationships of states and their political subdivisions and the functioning of state and local politics.

Required Electives

6 credit hours required; all courses listed

Study of the presidential election process from convention to election and the appointment of cabinet members. Topics include primary and convention politics, campaign strategies and the political qualification of individual candidates. Offered fall semester of a presidential election year.

Presents basic principles of research design and the primary techniques used by social scientists in the collection and analysis of data:for example, surveys and polling, observation, experiment, case study and content analysis.

Discusses and analyzes the processes of agenda setting, formulation, implementation and evaluation of public policies regarding selected issues such as housing, land use, health care and social services.

The study of designated or selected topics designed to serve special needs and interests not included in the regularly scheduled introductory courses. As needed.

Examines divergent governmental systems to gain an understanding of the various patterns of decision making the world today and to evaluate the viability of alternative political processes. Emphasizes the relationship between politics, constitutions and foreign policy considerations in the determination of governmental action. As needed.

The study of designated or selected topics to serve special needs and interests not included in the regularly scheduled advanced courses. As needed.

Work experience with a firm or agency directly related to the student's major area of study. The learning experience is structured within the College approved guidelines for the internship program. Through close supervision by the director of interns, faculty advisor and the worksite supervisor, the student works toward achieving goals outlined in the individual learning contract. Normally reserved for third and fourth year students. May be repeated with different topics. As needed.

Individually supervised advanced study on a topic of scholarly and critical interest in government, political science or public policy. The topic should be one about which the student already has some knowledge and/or experience. As needed.

Investigation of the various legal, social and political factors that have determined the position of women at various periods in the nation‘s history. Provides the student with the necessary historical and analytical tools to understand current themes and issues relating to the changing roles of women in contemporary society.

Information about Course Requirements
We do our best to keep this information updated, but you should always double-check to ensure you are meeting graduation requirements. For the most current course requirements please review the latest undergraduate college catalog.  Always consult your academic advisor when registering for courses or when you have questions about course requirements.


  • Politician
  • Political Correspondent
  • Events Planner
  • Public Opinion Analyst
  • Diplomat
  • Policy Analyst
  • Executive Assistant
  • Campaign Worker
  • Political Consultant
  • Congressional Research

City, State, Federal Government

  • City Manager
  • Human Resources Specialist
  • Executive Assistant
  • Public Relations Director
  • Parole/Probation Officer
  • Labor Relations Specialist
  • Urban Policy Planner
  • Intelligence Agent
  • Foreign Service Worker
  • Public Relations Director
  • Diplomat
  • Strategic Planning Consultant

Education                                        Social Services

  •  Education/Teacher
  • Curriculum developer
  • Student Affairs administrator
  • Human Rights Advocate
  • Social Worker

Business                                           Law

  • Business Administrator
  • Events Planner
  • Executive Search Consultant
  • Financial Planner
  • Public Relations Director
  • Consumer Advocate
  • Strategic Planning Consultant
  • Sales Manager
  • Labor Relations Specialist
  • Legal Investigator
  • Lawyer
  • Parole/Probation Officer
  • Lobbyist/Organizer
  • Historical Archivist/Researcher
  • Congressional Research


  • Editor
  • Journalist
  • Political Correspondent
  • Policy Analyst
  • Media Specialist
  • Historical Archivist/Researcher
  • International Market Researcher
  • Technical Writer


How do I know this is what I want to do?

Do some research. The best way to learn about a career is to talk to people who have been there. Find professionals in your area who are willing to share their experiences. Choose to do an internship. Your advisor or the Career Center may be able to give you names and/or contact information of local professionals if you are unsure of where to begin.

Job shadowing is a fantastic way to understand everyday tasks and get a sense of the day-to-day work of different professions. We generally provide four sites to visit. Spend a couple hours, or even a few days, with a lawyer, a campaign manager or a government official and see what that job really entails.

Another way to gain insight is to conduct what is called an informational interview. Many courses require an activity that might include an interview. Meet with a professional who is currently working in a field of interest to you and ask about the work that he or she does. What was the attraction to the job? What is the best part? What is the most frustrating part of the job? Get recommendations for a student or new professional who wants to get into the field.

There are also a number of online resources that provide information on various careers:

How do I get experience?

Should I complete an internship?

Even if the program does not require an internship experience to graduate, an internship can be an invaluable opportunity to network, gain experience and explore different career paths. Internship credits can also sometimes be used to meet other requirements within your major or meet general elective hours for graduation.

What about volunteering?

Volunteering is a wonderful way to gain experience while you are completing your degree. Many organizations only require a two-hour-per-week commitment. Working as a volunteer for an organization, a group, a political party or a cause is a great way to get important experience in the world of political science. Volunteering will give any political science major a number of advantages. First, the more of it you do, the better you will understand how different types of organizations and groups are structured, as well as how they respond to one another. Volunteering for more than one type of cause is a good idea, not only because doing so will diversify your knowledge and experience, but because it can also help you decide which type of career you might want to pursue after you've completed the requirements for your political science major and graduated from school. SMWC has a fabulous Service Learning Center, which will help connect you with a volunteer organization in your field of interest. Again, this is a great way to build your network and your résumé at the same time.

What skills should I be developing in myself?

People who work in the public arena should have good skills and abilities in various areas such as:


  • Think analytically
  • Research
  • Display leadership
  • Understand diverse populations
  • Understand community needs
  • Collaborate or work on teams
  • Work well under pressure


  • Communicate both orally and in writing
  • Make decisions
  • Solve problems
  • Develop and market ideas
  • Operate computers