Political science majors at address questions that go to the heart of some of the most important issues in contemporary life. Elon’s program is designed to help you develop critical thinking, reading, writing and research skills. You will also gain an understanding of the theories of politics, knowledge about political systems and forces in communities, and real-world experience in the processes of public policy. You will graduate with the tools necessary to go on to graduate study or build a successful career in politics, law, business, journalism, advocacy and many other fields.
Elon’s dynamic approach to the study of political science combines coursework, research projects, role-playing simulations, fieldwork at national political conventions, service learning projects, study abroad opportunities, and seminars and internships with organizations ranging from Amnesty International to the White House.
"The political science program at Elon combines all of the best aspects of a liberal arts education in order to provide a multi-faceted experience. I became a political science major at Elon because it gave me the opportunity to write a paper about Rousseau’s theory of inequality one day and participate in the Elon Poll researching opinions about the presidential and senate races the next day."
Political science appeals to both the lover of abstract reasoning and the nuts-and-bolts practical personality, and Elon’s flexible curriculum allows each student to explore his or her individual interests. Students first explore fundamental concepts of political science, then focus their studies in one or more subfields, including American government, international relations, comparative politics and political theory. Elon offers courses in specific areas, including the presidency, U.S. foreign policy and international terrorism, as well as classes focused on political activity in other parts of the world, including Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
The Department of Political Science and Policy Studies encourages majors to incorporate classes from other fields into their course of study. The flexible curriculum and manageable number of credit hours required provides ample opportunity for students to complete their studies and add a minor or a complementary major.
At Elon, you will learn from and with dynamic professors who have a wealth of professional experience, academic expertise and a range of interests and research specialties. Among the faculty are Elon’s 2009 Distinguished Scholar Award winner, two state legislative staffers, an election campaign manager, an administrator of the Carter Center, a Fulbright Scholar and many others. They are leaders of campus programs, including the leadership program, Latin American Studies program, Institute of Politics and Public Affairs, Center for Public Affairs and Center for Public Opinion Polling. They routinely lead study abroad programs focusing on London, the European Union, World War II and Costa Rica.
“ Professors in the department become more than professors; they become mentors and friends. They challenge their students to participate in our democracy and, because of their passion, I will continue to be an active participant in politics.”
Political science majors will find that opportunities to conduct and present original research abound at Elon. The senior seminar course serves as the curriculum’s capstone, during which students conduct an extensive research project under the guidance of departmental faculty. Political science majors present their research findings at the on-campus Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF), and they gain valuable experience and make important contacts presenting papers at the North Carolina Political Association’s annual meeting.
Students interested in pursuing political science as a major may qualify for the Elon College Fellows and Honors Fellows programs, which offer scholarship support and study abroad grants, special course and trips, and many other benefits. Visit the Elon Fellows programs Website for more information.
For their research, Elon political science students and alumni often garner major institutional and national awards. Eight majors have earned the Lumen Prize, Elon’s premier award for academic achievement. One 2009 alumna won a 2009 Fulbright U.S. Student grant, a prestigious and competitive national award supporting international graduate study. Another 2009 alumna won a DACOR Bacon House Award for postgraduate study. A 2008 alumna received a Rotary International Scholarship to pursue graduate studies in Scotland.
At Elon, you won’t just study political thought and practice; you will participate in it.
Through the Elon University Poll, conducted several times a year, students work in a polling laboratory with state-of-the-art data-gathering technology, and poll results are distributed to and published by local and national news outlets. During presidential election years, students study national politics through seminars and fieldwork at the sites of the national Democratic and Republican conventions. Students work for party offices, candidate organizations, media outlets and interest groups. Local government simulations allow students to study how local governments function and then apply that understanding through role-playing activities.
The Institute for Politics and Public Affairs works with 25 other universities to encourage politically engaged and civic-minded students in the National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement led by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Every January, the Washington Center Seminar gives students the opportunity to participate in an intensive focus on the American presidency and the national media in Washington, D.C.
Political science majors enhance coursework with real-world experience through service learning opportunities and internships. Elon students have completed internships with a variety of organizations and political figures, such as the White House Chief of Staff, the U.S. Department of State, the British House of Commons and Amnesty International, among others.
Majors also can join several student organizations related to their field. Elon’s representatives to the North Carolina Student Legislature are advised through the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and earned the organization’s Best Small University Delegation award for 2009. Other groups include the Model United Nations and Pi Sigma Alpha that is the political science honor society, and Sigma Iota Rho, the honor society for International Studies.
Elon’s political science graduates are prepared for graduate study or to move directly into successful careers in a range of fields. Recent alumni have secured work with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, the U.S. Bureaus of Justice and the Census, Teach for America and the Peace Corps, among others.
Alumni also have pursued graduate programs in international studies, campaign management, law, political science and public policy. Department graduates have been accepted to institutions including Duke University, Syracuse University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Georgetown University and the University of Maryland, among others.