What is the difference between Politics and Political Science? Why are the degrees offered in the department B.A. degrees rather than B.S. degrees?
Because our major is based in the School of the Humanities rather than the School of Education and Social Sciences, our program seeks to understand the discipline of Politics from a normative and empirical perspective with an emphasis on reading, writing, critical thinking and developing an argument in addition to an understanding of the quantitative methods necessary for data collection and interpretation. We view the study of Politics is an especially useful means of understanding the forces of globalization – the power relationships responsible for an increasingly integrated world. Our Politics faculty members encourage students to think independently, to tolerate opposing points of view, and to develop an abiding concern for public life in the interest of social justice. As students of Politics, our task is to interpret the world – and to change it.
Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts receive a broader scope of training across the curriculum, including language courses and other liberal arts content. Often, Bachelor of Science degrees tend to be highly quantitative and scientific or technical, much higher in credits and especially prescribed in specific requirements. Because Messiah is a Liberal Arts College, a Bachelor of Arts provides individuals with skills and abilities, as well as the freedom of study, not offered in many Bachelor of Sciences programs.
Can I have a concentration within my major of Politics?
Our program offers two concentrations, a more general Political Studies track and a concentration in International Relations. Students in both tracks will take the same core, foundational courses in the major. Students in the Political Studies track must take 28 credits of electives within the Politics department. This allows students the flexibility to choose classes in a specific area, like domestic issues, or to chose a combination of classes from the International and the domestic realms. Students in the International Relations track are more focused on courses relating to Foreign Policy, classes on comparative governmental structures and a more significant focus on economics courses. The International Relations Concentration also allows students to take 12 free electives in politics classes, encouraging an interest in domestic politics, as well. Both concentrations offer students the ability to choose an area that interests them most and focus on such areas in their studies.
What if I just want to try your major? What class should I take to get a broad overview?
Our American Government classes, offered every semester, give an overview of the systems and institutions at work in the American governmental system, including the three branches of government, legislative, judicial and executive, as well as a focus on the electorate, political parties and interest groups and their effects on the policy process. This class fulfills a core requirement for a Politics major or minor, and also fulfills the General Education requirement of Social Science.
What are some of the courses I might take?
There is a wide variety of courses offered in our department. We have electives focusing on domestic politics and the American system of government including American Constitutional Law, the American Presidency, Congress, Parties and Elections, American Political Thought, United States Foreign Policy, Constitutional Civil Liberties, Ethnic and Racial Politics in America, Public Policy, Representation and Democracy, and Public Opinion and Political Socialization. We also have other electives focusing on international and comparative politics including, Politics in Latin America, Politics in Film, Terrorism, Politics in Canada, Russia After Communism, and Theories of International Relations. We also have several Special Topics in Politics courses offered each year.
Can AP or CLEP credit substitute for a core course, or otherwise count toward the major?
Messiah College accepts both Advanced Placement and CLEP examination credit. In addition to receiving credit for classes to count towards fulfilling their General Education requirements, students enrolled in Advanced Placement American Government or Comparative Government in their high schools may transfer the credit from their AP exam with the score of a 3, 4, or 5. This would fulfill the major requirement of American Government or Comparative Government, respectively. Both courses are needed for both Politics majors and minors.
If I want to go to law school, should I major in Politics or minor in Pre-Law?
Either. The Politics major at Messiah helps build the skills that are crucial for completing law school. The ability to analyze and synthesize information to craft and defend a coherent argument is an invaluable skill in many fields, including the legal profession. Also, the Politics major builds strong oral and written communication skills that would be necessary for pursuing a career in law. The Pre-Law minor provides these same skills with the added introduction of a few legal-based courses. The courses will help introduce a student to legal issues in different areas.
What is the Pre-Law Minor?
The Pre-Law minor is a program for those students with an interest in pursuing a future career in the field of Law. This minor is 21 credits. A student must take American Government, American Constitutional Law, Introduction to Logic, one 300-level English literature elective, and one 300-level History elective. Also, a student must choose to take two of the four classes: Topics in Constitutional Civil Liberties, Pre-Law Practicum, Business Law I: The Legal Foundation for Business, or Business Law II: The Legal Environment for Business.
Can I have a minor in Politics?
A minor in Politics at Messiah is 18 credits. A student must choose two of four basic course offerings including, American Government, History of Political Thought, International Politics and Comparative Politics. After a student completes two of these classes, he or she must complete 12 additional credits in the Politics major, any four classes of his or her choosing.
Can I add a minor or double major to my politics major without having to stay extra semesters?
The Politics major at Messiah offers flexibility and can be paired easily with other majors and minors. Many students have paired a Politics major with a major in Economics or History. The Politics major has also been paired with numerous minors, including Business Administration, Sociology and Anthropology, Peace and Conflict Studies, and many others!
Are there any special academic opportunities for students in your department?
Messiah also has a unique partnership with Carnegie Mellon’s Heniz School of Public Policy and Management, one of the nation’s top public policy programs. A student enrolled in this special program would spend three years at Messiah completing the coursework here and then spend two years at the Heinz School taking classes in public policy. At the end of 5 years, a student will graduate with a Bachelors of Arts in Politics from Messiah and an Masters of Science in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon.
Students in our department are also encouraged to have internships and spend time studying abroad!
Is there a possibility that I can get an internship in the community?
Absolutely! During students’ junior and senior years, Messiah will partner with students to complete internships for credit. Up to 9 credits of a student’s major may be completed in an internship. Due to the close proximity to Harrisburg, internships in various departments of the state government are readily available. Many of our students have interned in the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Aging. Messiah’s Internship Center helps to facilitate these placements.
Can I study abroad in this program?
Students are encouraged to study abroad as Politics major. Messiah's EpiCenter Office offers many opportunities to study abroad. Many of our students have found that studying abroad has shaped their view of the world and encouraged them to be more of a global thinker and world citizen. Because of the flexibility of the Politics major, students can often study off campus for a J-Term or May Term (3 week period), or one or even two semesters. Also, many programs are available to students completing their Politics major. Read our study abroad testimonials on the resource page to learn more!
Can I do an Independent or Directed Study?
Independent and directed studies are possible during one’s time at Messiah. Although the individual is encouraged to complete coursework within the course offerings each semester, a student may find after studying abroad or other circumstances may require the completion of a course through independent or directed study. The course must be approved by the instructor, the department chair and one’s own academic advisor, as well as the College’s Registrar’s Office. However, if one is looking to study a topic of their own choosing and would like to receive credit, he or she should consider completing a year long Department Honors or Senior Honors Project.
What is a Department Honors Project?
Qualifying seniors may apply to complete a Department Honors Project. This is an opportunity for students to delve into a topic that interests them in a way that may not be possible in a traditional classroom setting. These projects are a two semester long engagement with material and research in order to gain a better understanding of the topic of their choosing. Accepted students will formulate a proposal and select a project advisor. If a student’s proposal is accepted, he or she will formulate a research plan with his or her advisor to complete the project. These projects are three credit hours each semester and six credit hours overall. The project can count towards Politics electives necessary for completing the major. For more information on proposals, forms and deadlines, visit the resource page.
What is the difference between a Department Honors Project and a Senior Honors Project?
As a member of the College Honors Program, students have the opportunity to complete a year long Senior Honors Project. These projects can take many different forms from a live performance to a traditional research project or thesis. Senior Honors Projects can be completed by students in the College Honors Program that may be interested in completing a project outside his or her academic major. These projects may include a secondary interest or affiliation rather than the student’s chosen major. A student will earn credit for his or her Senior Honors requirement.
A Department Honors Project is open to all qualifying students in the major, regardless of one’s participation in the College Honors Program. Students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher are eligible for pursuing such projects. For Politics majors, this most often manifests itself as a traditional thesis. A Department Honors Project can earn a student elective credit within the major. Honors College participants may use Department Honors Projects to earn credit for one’s major requirements, as well as for one’s Senior Honors requirement. Visit our resource page for more specific information.
Where do your graduates go for graduate school?
Our students have continued on to a variety of graduate schools. These schools range from the London School of Economics to Georgetown, Harvard Law School, Maxwell School of Public Policy at Syracuse University, University of Hawaii, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and University of Pennsylvania.
What kind of jobs have your graduates gotten after graduation?
Our graduates have served in various capacities in both the public and the private sphere. While some students choose to work for non-profit organizations, others choose to work for various levels of local, state or federal government. In addition, many of our students have completed graduate school in various fields. For more information on specific individuals, visit the Alumni section of our web site to see all that our alumni have accomplished.
What is the average salary for a person with a degree in Politics?
Figures for both average starting and mid-career salaries can be found here.