Feb 25, 2021  
2020-2021 General Catalog 
2020-2021 General Catalog

Political Science

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Location: Main 320
Phone: (435) 797-1306
FAX: (435) 797-3751
E-mail: politicalscience@usu.edu
WWW: http://politicalscience.usu.edu/

Undergraduate Degrees Offered: International Studies (BA), Law & Constitutional Studies (BA and BS), Political Science (BA and BS)

Minors Offered: International Studies, Political Science, Political Science Teaching

Graduate Degrees Offered: Political Science (MA and MS) (American Politics and Political Theory Track and International Security Track)

Graduate Program Director:
Josh Ryan, MAIN 330B, (435) 797-5780, josh.ryan@usu.edu

Undergraduate Advisors:
Political Science:
Dan Mathews, TSC 302, (435) 797-3883, daniel.mathews@usu.edu

Law and Constitutional Studies:
Dan Mathews, TSC 302, (435) 797-3883, daniel.mathews@usu.edu 

International Studies:
Colin Flint, Main 320B, (435) 797-5962, colin.flint@usu.edu

For further information concerning advising, contact main office at (435) 797-1306.

Full details of the learning objectives, assessment plan, student outcomes, and evidence of continuous improvement for these programs of study can be found at politicalscience.usu.edu/about/assessment.

Undergraduate Programs


The Utah State Political Science Department is dedicated to transmitting the fundamentals of political science, law and constitutional studies, and international studies to a broad community through innovative teaching, respected research, and committed service to improve the community, the state, the nation and beyond.

Every political science, international studies, and law and constitutional studies student is expected to develop skills and knowledge consistent with the following learning objectives:

  • factual political knowledge
  • theoretical perspectives on politics
  • analytical skills
  • research and persuasive writing skills
  • the ability to read source materials critically
  • familiarity with Political Science research source materials
  • facility in the analysis of quantitative data
  • an understanding research design
  • experience conducting independent research
  • oral presentation skills

The applicability of specific learning objectives varies depending on the particular emphasis students choose. By no means do all of our courses advance every one of these objectives. For example, our introductory courses, taught largely to non-majors, have comparatively modest objectives. The table of undergraduate learning indicates how each of our courses has been designed to advance a particular mix of objectives.

Admission and Prerequisite Requirements

Departmental Admission Requirements

Students in good standing may apply for admission to the department.

International Studies Major: minimum 2.5 GPA
Law and Constitutional Studies: minimum 3.0 GPA
Political Science: minimum 2.5 GPA


It is assumed that students registered for upper-division political science courses have acquired the basic knowledge and information taught in the lower-division courses required for the major. Anyone who wishes to take an upper-division course, but has not had the appropriate prerequisites, should consult with the instructor before registering. Faculty members reserve the right to drop students from upper-division courses who do not meet these requirements.

Sample Four-year Plans

Sample semester-by-semester four-year plans for students working toward a bachelor’s degree are available in the Political Science Department.

Students should consult with their advisor to develop a plan of study tailored to their individual needs and interests.


The department places approximately 40-45 students in government or related internships each year. Most of these interns work with a member of the Utah delegation to the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C., a member of the Utah Legislature in Salt Lake City, a political campaign, a state or local administrative agency, or a lobbying group. Students in any major, of at least junior class standing, and having a minimum GPA of 3.0 are eligible to apply. For more information, contact Dr. Damon Cann at (435) 797-8705 or damon.cann@usu.edu.

Pi Sigma Alpha

This national political science honor society is the only honor society for college students of political science and government in the United States. There are hundreds of chapters of Pi Sigma Alpha located on college and university campuses in every state of the United States and in Guam. USU’s chapter, Alpha Iota, has been recognized several times as one of the nation’s best chapters. A member must have earned at least 12 credits in political science courses with a minimum 3.2 GPA and a minimum 3.0 GPA overall. For more information, visit our website at http://politicalscience.usu.edu.

Sigma Iota Rho

Utah State is one of 99 active chapters of the Honor Society for International Studies. The purpose is to build a visible community of scholars and students with a shared interest in promoting international studies and recognize the very best among those in that community that exhibit excellence in academic achievement, service to the community, and advancement of the field. A member must have earned at least 21 hours of international studies courses with a minimum 3.3 overall GPA and a minimum 3.4 GPA in International Studies. For more information, visit our website at http://politicalscience.usu.edu.

Financial Support

The Political Science Department offers a number of scholarships yearly to students. Applications are usually available around the first week of February and due back the first week of March. The get an application, visit the department website at http://politicalscience.usu.edu or visit the office in Main 320.

There are also internship assistance awards available on a rolling basis. For more information about local, state or national internship assistance, contact Dr. Robert Ross at (435) 797-0696 or damon.cann@usu.edu. For more information about international internship assistance, contact Dr. Jeannie Johnson at (435) 797-7570 or jeannie.johnson@usu.edu.

University Honors Program

The University Honors Program offers students in all colleges and majors the unique opportunity to deepen their educational experience with hands-on practical applications of their academic knowledge. The Honors Program admits incoming, transfer, and existing USU students based on application. High achieving students with at least one year remaining are encouraged to apply.  See the University Honors Program catalog entry and website (honors.usu.edu) for more information.

Additional Information

For detailed information about requirements for the majors and minors within the Political Science Department, see the major requirement sheets, which can be obtained from the department.

Graduate Programs

Departmental Admission Requirements

Applicants must have a BS or BA degree. An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better, or a GPA of 3.5 or better over the last 90 semester credits of undergraduate coursework is required. Students must have quantitative, verbal, and analytical GRE scores at or above the 50th percentile. Applicants with very high GPAs and other exceptional supporting materials may petition for admission with deficient GRE scores. The graduate admissions committee will review petitions individually.

International students must receive a score of 95 or 65% or better on the TOEFL exam.

Due to limited space, acceptance into Political Science graduate programs is not guaranteed, even for students who meet admission requirements. Moreover, all students are expected to perform at high levels throughout their program. Any student receiving a C grade or lower for any course at any level or a grade point average below 3.0 for a given semester will be placed on academic probation. Receipt of two grades of C or lower or a grade point average below 3.0 for two semesters will result in termination from the program. In addition, students must meet the requirements of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Applicants not meeting minimum requirements may be allowed to correct deficiencies concurrently with graduate coursework.

Admission is considered for Fall semester only. Preference is given to applications received by February 1 for the coming academic year. Students who wish to be considered for financial aid must submit applications by February 1. No application will be considered until all required information arrives in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

The Department offers an accelerated option for students who complete some required graduate courses while enrolled as an undergraduate. Completion of graduate courses while an undergraduate in anticipation of entering the graduate program does not guarantee admission to the graduate program. All applications for the accelerated option are also due by February 1 for the upcoming academic year.


The department appoints a number of teaching and research assistantships, each with annual stipends available. Appointments are for one year, and may be renewable for a second year pending successful academic performance and budgetary availability.


The Department of Political science expects students to complete an original research project as part of their studies. As a result, although the University permits thesis projects that (1) “make a contribution to the field of knowledge based on a student’s own research” (Plan A) or (2) offer “a review of literature” (Plan B), preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate their desire and ability to pursue a Plan A thesis. It is suggested that applicants include a statement of their research interests, a description of any research experience as an undergraduate or in a professional setting, a reflection on how a Plan A thesis will benefit career goals, and at least two reference letters that are able to speak to the applicant’s potential to conduct research at the graduate level.


The master’s degree in Political Science consists of five required courses, elective courses, and thesis hours. Completion of the degree requires a total of 30 credits, along with a Plan A thesis or Plan B paper with the approval of the applicable department faculty. For information about the course requirements, contact Dr. Robert Ross at (435) 797-9489, or greg.goelzhauser@usu.edu, or Shelly Scheiss at (435) 797-1306 or shelly.schiess@usu.edu, or visit our website at http://politicalscience.usu.edu

FACULTY - College of Humanities and Social Sciences  

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