Political Science Department


  • What are the requirements for the major in Political Science?

    (View these requirements in checklist form.)

    Twelve courses in the department. Students must take PSC 111 or PSC 112, PSC 113, PSC 498-PSC 499 (a two-term senior project), and eight other courses. No more than two of these twelve courses may be internship courses (i.e., PSC 277, PSC 280T). Of the eight non-specified courses, at least two must be at the 300-level (beginning with the Class of 2021), and at least three of the four major areas of the discipline must be covered: Political Theory (courses normally numbered in the 230’s or 330’s), U.S. Politics (courses normally in the 260’s, 270’s, 280’s, 360’s, or 370’s), Comparative Politics (courses normally in the, 240’s or 340’s) and International Politics (courses normally in the 250’s or 350’s). Introductory courses may not be used to satisfy these distribution requirements.

    Students must take two courses to fulfill the department’s research requirement and to prepare for the senior project. First, all students must take at least one “R” course. The presence of the “R” designation next to a course number in the registration materials (i.e., PSC 272R) denotes that the course will have a major research assignment as a central component of the course. Second, students must take an additional “R” course, or a seminar (PSC 339, PSC 349, PSC 359, PSC 369), or a research methods course (PSC 220, PSC 222, PSC 223, or students may request from the political science chair that a research methods course in another department qualify as a methods course for satisfying this requirement). Both research courses should be taken by the end of the student’s junior year as preparation for the senior project (PSC 498-PSC 499). Students are welcome and encouraged to take more than two research courses; these are simply minimum requirements. Normally, a GPA of 3.0 is required to gain admittance to a seminar.

  • What are the requirements for the ID major in Political Science?

    (View these requirements in checklist form.)

    Eight courses in the department, which must include the courses listed below. One course must be at the 300-level (beginning with the Class of 2021). To fulfill the research requirement interdepartmental majors must take at least one “R” course. ID majors must also fulfill the foreign experience requirement (see requirements for the Major). Internship courses, such as PSC 277 and PSC 280T, may not be counted toward the eight courses required for the interdepartmental major. Note that the senior thesis is a two-term project, one term of which counts toward the Political Science portion of the ID major. The Department of Political Science requires its ID majors to choose a senior thesis topic that incorporates elements of both disciplines, and to seek out appropriate guidance regarding the contributions of the second discipline to the project.

    • PSC 111 – Introduction to US Politics
    • PSC 112 – Introduction to Global Politics;
    • PSC 113 – Introduction to Political Thought; and
    • IDM 498 – Interdepartmental Senior Thesis 1

  • What are the requirements for the minor in Political Science?

    The minor consists of six total courses. Students must take either PSC 111 or PSC 112; and PSC 113. Of the four remaining courses, at least three upper-level courses must all be drawn from one of the following four sub-fields (Political Theory, U.S. Politics, Comparative Politics or International Politics). If you are at all unclear regarding which sub-field a course counts towards, please contact the chair. No internships or independent studies may be counted toward the minor without approval of the Chair.

  • How can I keep up with what is going on in and around the Department?

    1. Watch your email inbox carefully for messages from mcgilll@union.edu, especially toward the end of the fifth week of term, when we will email you (a) an informative newsletter, and (b) a memo containing important information regarding registering for the subsequent term.

    2. Check the News and Events section of this website regularly.

  • What are the requirements to graduate with honors in Political Science?

    –A GPA of at least 3.5 or better in PSC as well as a GPA of 3.3 cumulatively across your entire transcript.

    –Completion of a PSC seminar with an A- or better. [If you get less than an A- in your seminar, you may still be eligible for honors if your PSC GPA is 3.7 or higher. Note, you must complete a seminar to be eligible for honors.]

    –At least three PSC course grades of A- or better [not including thesis courses].

    –A grade of A- or higher on the senior project.

    –Delivery of an oral (not poster) presentation on your senior project at the Steinmetz symposium.

    **ID majors must meet the requirements for honors in both departments**

  • What are the requirements for the Political Science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha, and (how) can I join?

    –You must be a PSC major or ID major.

    –You must be a junior or senior.

    –Your overall GPA must be in the top third of your class.

    –Your Political Science GPA must be at least 3.5 (and at least four political science courses must have been completed at Union College).

    –Every Fall Term, students who satisfy these criteria are invited via letter to join the Zeta Upsilon chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha.

  • What should I do if I am interested in pursuing an internship for PSC major credit?

    PSC 277 Capital Region Political Internships may be a good course option for you.

    1. Speak with Professor Oxley during office hours
    2. Get your resume and a cover letter in shape (now!), with the help of Becker Career Center

    Resume Review at the Becker Career Center

    GETTING STARTED – Students who have not had their resume reviewed before are encouraged to review the Guide to Resume Writing [http://www.union.edu/offices/career/_documents/resume-writing.pdf], write a first draft, and schedule an appointment at the career center (careercenter@union.edu) to receive feedback.

    RESUME UPDATES – Students who have worked with the Becker Career Center on their resume in the past, and have made changes or updates since their initial meeting, are encouraged to drop off a printed copy of their resume to the front desk at the career center (or email to careercenter@union.edu) requesting a 24 hour review. Within 24 hours of their submission, you will receive feedback from a career advisor.

    Questions? Contact Becker Career Center at (518) 388-6176 or careercenter@union.edu

  • For Juniors: What is the Senior Thesis/Project and How Will I Be Matched With an Advisor?

    The senior thesis offers students a chance to pursue their passion for politics by carrying out independent research as a culmination of their experience of studying political science at Union College. Senior theses can take a variety of forms. While most students choose to write a multi-chapter thesis that combines a review of existing research with original research, others embark on projects involving political action or pursue creative works (such as writing a novel or making a documentary). The possibilities are endless. Our Department encourages students to work on projects that are meaningful to them.

    In February, you will receive an email from the Department Chair letting you know about the Senior Thesis information session where all details and the timing will be covered, and where you will have a chance to share questions.

  • For Seniors: When is my senior thesis due and are there any special formatting requirements?

    Your completed thesis is due by 12:00 pm noon on the next to last day of classes of the second term of your thesis enrollment. This is TBD for the Winter 2023 trimester.

    You must turn your thesis in to Mrs. McGill in the Political Science office (Lippman 112). Do not submit your thesis directly to your advisor – it must be submitted to the departmental office. You need to submit one hard copy, and it must be bound in some secure way (any type of binding is fine other than a staple or paper clip). If you are working on an ID or joint double major thesis and have two advisors, you should plan to submit one copy to each department.

    No special cover page is necessary. If you end up being a candidate for honors, there will be some formatting and other obligations that you will need to attend to – but that happens at a later point in time. Check with your thesis advisor as to any other formatting requirements (table of contents, etc.).

    When you turn in your thesis, Mrs. McGill will require you to fill out an evaluation of the senior thesis experience as a condition of your submission, so be sure to allow 10-15 minutes to complete this in the PSC office. The college administration requires that we collect these evaluations.

    Check with your advisor as to whether or not you will be able to have your submitted copy returned to you after it is evaluated.

    If your thesis comes in after 12:00 pm on the due date, the exact submission time will be noted and relayed to your thesis advisor.

    If you fail to turn in your thesis on the due date, your thesis grade will be automatically penalized according to the following schedule:

    • submitted to the PSC department office TBD for 2024 - day/date 8 a.m.- 4:25 pm: 1/3 grade deduction
    • submitted to the PSC department office TBD for 2024- day/date 8 a.m.- 4:25 pm: 1 1/3 grade deduction
    • submitted to the PSC department office TBD for 2024 - day/date 8 a.m.- 4:25 pm: 1 2/3 grade deduction

    The penalties continue on the same schedule – 1/3 grade deduction per day the thesis continues to be late.

    Again — you must submit your thesis in hard copy format, to Mrs. McGill, in the PSC department office, during the office hours listed above. You may not email it to your advisor, or submit it in any other way.