Political Science

Political Science Degree

Politics involves the struggle among individuals to achieve one's particular interests. Political scientists study who gets what and why, often seeing differences in the power of individuals, groups, corporations or countries as being instrumental in determining whose preferences matter. The AUM Political Science major offers a variety of courses exploring the multiple and various dimensions of politics.

  • In courses on American politics, students learn about the complex relationship between Congress, the presidency, and other political institutions; the impact of money on campaigns and elections; and the role of race in politics.
  • In international relations courses, students study the implications of an international environment without a supranational government and how that environment leads countries to be the most important entities in world politics and, in turn, makes world politics the realm of power politics.
  • In comparative politics courses, students explore the factors that make democracy more or less likely, how the transition to democracy can create instabilities, and how differences in countries' electoral systems can lead to government instability.

  • In public administration and public policy courses, students examine the relationship among political actors, institutions, and bureaucratic organizations to understand the issues related to effective governance.

Course of Study

The Political Science Major comprises 53 credit hours including:

Four required courses:

POLS 2020 Introduction to American Politics
POLS 2200 Introduction to International Relations or
POLS 3450 Introduction to Comparative Politics
POLS 3010 Research Methods
POLS 4952 Senior Seminar

Seven courses taken from among current Political Science Department offerings:

POLS 2200 Introduction to International Relations (if not taken as required)
POLS 3400 Introduction to Public Administration
POLS 3450 Introduction to Comparative Politics (if not take as required)
POLS 3510 Congressional Politics
POLS 3700 American Political Thought
POLS 3800 Campaigns and Elections
POLS 3810 Political Behavior
POLS 3860 Political Film
POLS 3880 Gender and Politics
POLS 4220 American Foreign Policy
POLS 4250 Conflict and Diplomacy
POLS 4350 European Politics
POLS 4450 Race and Immigration
POLS 4860 Political Psychology
POLS 4870 Psychology of Terrorism

*Two of those twelve courses must be writing-intensive.
*One of those courses must satisfy the Department's diversity-learning objectives. See the Department's advisor for details.

Six courses in related fields of study including:

One statistics course (Math 2670, Math 2680, ECST 2740 or ECST 2750)
One advanced English writing course (ENGL 3050, ENGL 3060 or any WI English course)
Four courses exploring agents, institutions, or topics relevant to an understanding of political actors, the political context, and political outcomes.

Examples of courses satisfying this last category include: SOCI 2000 Introduction to Sociology; SOCI 2100 Media & Culture; PSYC 2110 Introduction to Psychology; PSYC 3450 Social Psychology; ECON 2000 Introduction to Economics; ECON 3050 Global Trade; GEOG 2050 Geography of World Regions; HIST 2010 U.S. History I; HIST 2020 U.S. History II; HIST 3720 Modern China; HIST 3820 Modern Latin America; JUST 1150 Introduction to Criminal Justice; and JUST 1270 Introduction to Law.

For detailed course descriptions see the AUM undergraduate course catalog.

The Political Science Minor
comprises 15 credit hours including:

POLS 2020 Introduction to American Politics or
POLS 2200 Introduction to International Relations
Any four additional Political Science courses

The International Relations Minor
comprises 15 credit hours including:

POLS 2200 Introduction to International Relations
POLS 3450 Introduction to Comparative Politics
Any three courses from the following list:
POLS 4220 American Foreign Policy
POLS 4250 Conflict and Diplomacy
POLS 4350 Area Studies (European Politics and/or Asian Politics)
POLS 4860 Psychology of Terrorism
POLS 4970 Special Topics


Political science is a frequently selected major for students interested in attending law school. One reason for this relationship is that political science courses emphasize analytical and critical thinking, reading carefully, and persuasive writing, all skills highly valued in the legal profession. The Department is extremely proud of its record in preparing students for admission to American Bar Association accredited law schools. Graduates of the Department are practicing law in firms all over the southeastern United States as well as in the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Alabama, the Office of the District Attorney of Montgomery County, and in other state agencies. Two alums are currently judges, one is a Circuit Judge in Montgomery County and the other is a District Judge in Lowndes County.

Career Opportunities for Political Science Majors

For general information about careers and other opportunities in political science see:



Nonprofit careers: www.idealist.org

International development: www.devex.com

U.S. State Department careers and other opportunities, including international jobs: www.state.gov/careers/

Careers in international affairs:



Andrew Cortell
Department Head and Professor
Ph.D. in Political Science, Columbia University
Specialization: International Relations

Linda Dennard
Ph.D. in Public Administration and Public Policy, Virginia Tech University
Specializations: Public Policy and American Political Thought

Kalu Kalu
Ph.D. in Political Science and Management, Texas Tech University
Specializations: Comparative Politics and American Politics

Pia Knigge
Undergraduate Advisor and Assistant Professor
Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Kentucky
Specializations: Political Behavior, Political Psychology, and Comparative Politics

James Nathan
Khalid bin Sultan Eminent Scholar and Professor
Ph.D. in Political Science, Johns Hopkins University
Specialization: International Relations

Hua Xu
Assistant Professor
Ph.D. in Public Administration, Rutgers University
Specialization: Public Administration