Political Science is the scientific study of political institutions, political behavior, and public policy. The Political Science Department at Rice University specializes in three subfields: American politics (the study of politics and government in the United States), comparative politics (the study of domestic politics in countries outside the United States), and international relations (the study of how countries interact with one another, i.e., topics of war, terrorism, international organizations, foreign policy). Our faculty conducts research and teaches classes in all of these areas.
In political science courses, students develop a broad understanding of the discipline and more specific knowledge in one or more subfields, and they learn a variety of marketable skills, such as written, oral, and visual communication, critical thinking, policy evaluation, data analysis, and research methods. The introductory courses in each of the subfields provide an overview of the main topics, questions, and approaches within the subfield. In 300-level courses, students explore specific topics in greater detail. The department offers courses on topics, such as urban politics, public policy, elections, Congress, the judiciary, money and power, comparative legislatures, Latin American politics, European politics, Middle Eastern politics, developing democracies, conflict, terrorism, foreign policy, to name just a few. All students take Poli 395, which covers research design and data analysis. Majors are also required to take two 400-level research seminars. In these courses, students use critical thinking skills to apply methodological, theoretical, and research knowledge to political science topics. Students also conduct independent research and complete research papers and/or oral/visual presentations.
Majoring in political science provides students with the background and skills for careers in government at the local, state, and national levels; in international and non-governmental organizations; political campaigns; interest groups and lobbying organizations; journalism; business; law; teaching, and “civic tech” fields. Beyond preparing students for a host of future careers, political science courses equip students for life as an informed citizen ready to participate in political activities within interest groups or political parties; related to community organization and political advocacy; or even service as an elected or appointed official.
Two great websites that provide more information about careers in political science are:
For more information on the political science major or for major declarations and transfer credit issues, contact the Undergraduate Advisor, Dr. Richard Stoll (120 Herzstein Hall, x3362, firstname.lastname@example.org