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Political Science

Sven E. Wilson, Chair
745 SWKT, (801) 422-9018

College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences Advisement Center
1041 JFSB, (801) 422-3541

Admission to Degree Program

All degree programs in the Department of Political Science are open enrollment.

The Discipline

The political science major is designed to fulfill the admonition of the Doctrine and Covenants (88:79–80) to teach one another "things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms that ye may be prepared in all things."

Politics extends far beyond the immediate concerns of politicians or pollsters; it is essential to the human condition. Since we are all shaped by the institutions we inhabit, political science helps us to understand not only our world but ourselves. It involves fundamental choices concerning our life in communities whether locally, nationally, or globally. Without politics there could be only chaos and conflict. With politics there is the chance for order and thus the opportunity to seek prosperity and fulfillment. Often conflictual but just as often cooperative, politics reflects our basic needs and interests, our highest aspirations, and the often harsh requirements of power.

Political science involves this full range of inquiry, including questions of "who gets what," questions of the best or most just political order, and questions of the nature, uses, and abuses of power. Political science students will be exposed to a broad range of perspectives or great ideas about politics to better understand questions such as "Why is campaign finance reform so difficult?" "Why did the Soviet Union fall?" "Were the Athenians justified in condemning Socrates to death?" and "Do democracies fight fewer wars?" Students will learn a variety of methods ranging from statistical analysis of quantifiable data to historical comparison of institutions to reflection on influential texts. Before graduating, students will not only better define their own values and ideas about politics but also develop their own significant research project as political scientists. Students will be prepared "in all things" to influence their communities for the better.

Career Opportunities

The Political Science Department offers an undergraduate degree in Political Science for students who are preparing for public service, graduate study in related fields, or professional degrees in law or business, as well as for liberal arts students who are interested in an undergraduate major that focuses on challenging questions facing modern society. The program is structured around a series of tracks that match these vocational choices.

Graduation Requirements

To receive a BYU bachelor's degree a student must complete, in addition to all requirements for a specific major, the following university requirements:

  • The university core, consisting of requirements in general and religious education. (See University Core for details. For a complete listing of courses that meet university core requirements, see the current class schedule.)
  • At least 30 credit hours must be earned in residence on the BYU campus in Provo as an admitted day student
  • A minimum of 120 credit hours
  • A cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • Be in good standing with the Honor Code Office

Undergraduate Programs and Degrees

Students should see their college advisement center for help or information concerning the undergraduate programs.


Internships

All political science students should enrich their undergraduate education and enhance their career prospects with an off-campus internship experience. Several high-quality opportunities are available for which credit may be earned toward the major or minor.

Washington Seminar. Students from any academic discipline spend a semester or term in Washington, D.C., working in government, business, communications, or the arts. Complementing course work involving readings and briefings on contemporary national issues is part of the curriculum. From 6 to 12 hours of upper-division credit may be earned.

Utah State Legislature Internship. During each winter semester students from any academic discipline may work as interns in the Utah State Legislature. Students interested in legislative and public policy processes will particularly benefit from the experience. Complementing course work can optionally be taken in conjunction with the internship. From 5 to 14 hours of upper-division credit may be earned.

State and Local Government Internships. Throughout the year students may intern with city, county, or state governments, as well as the district offices of U.S. senators and representatives or other relevant organizations(availability of positions may vary). From 3 to 6 hours of upper-division credit may be earned.

International Internships. The International Internship Program at the David M. Kennedy Center places students in a variety of internships with foreign governments and international institutions. Some of these internships are eligible for credit towards the major.

Requirements
  1. Internships should be completed during the junior or senior year. Prior to the internship students should have completed Pl Sc 110 and 200.
  2. Students must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.7 or better (Washington Seminar requires a 3.0) and be in good academic standing. Strong research and writing skills are important qualifications.
  3. All internship programs have a strong and complementing academic component to help students gain the most from their experience. Students completing any of the above internships must be enrolled for credit.