2019-2020 University Catalog 
    Jul 14, 2024  
2019-2020 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Political Science

Professors Brubaker, Byrnes, Chernoff, M. Hayes, Kraynak, N. Moore (Chair), Shain
Associate Professors Dauber, Fogarty, Koter, Morkevicius, Murshid, Nam, Rutherford
Assistant Professors Hedberg, Ibarra del Cueto, Lupton, Luttig, Rosenfeld
Visiting Assistant Professor Bae, Malekzadeh, K. Walker, R. Walker
Charles Evans Hughes Visiting Chair of Government & Jurisprudence Miner

The department’s program is designed to provide students with an understanding and appreciation of politics in the broadest sense and to introduce them to the skills needed for research and analysis. The curriculum includes courses in the principal fields of the discipline, including American and comparative government and politics, international relations, and political theory. Through coursework and independent study projects, students confront some of the enduring questions of politics while studying political institutions, processes, behavior, and theory. Internships in Washington on the D.C. study group combine rigorous analysis of politics and government with direct exposure to Congress, the national executive, political parties, interest groups, think tanks, and media. Similarly, study and internships in Geneva, Switzerland, on the department’s other study group, provide students with the opportunity to travel widely in Europe and to become immersed in the world of international organizations. The honors colloquium, in addition, offers students the opportunity to conduct significant research under the supervision of a faculty member. Students who major in political science are likely to be well prepared for future careers or graduate study in such fields as law, public service, international affairs, business management, teaching, journalism, and many others.

Course Information

Course classifications:

American politics (AM)
Comparative politics (CO)
International relations (IR)
Political theory (TH)


Colgate’s chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha is a national honorary society that recognizes the accomplishments of undergraduate political science students.

The Dr. William L. Boyle Jr. Award — given annually for academic excellence to a junior political science major.

The Politics and Citizenship Award — for the member of the senior class who best exemplifies the spirit of and commitment to public service and political participation, as demonstrated by classroom participation and co-curricular activities. This is not an annual award. Rather, this award will be given only when a student exhibits the above qualities to a very high degree.

The Herbert J. Storing Memorial Award — established as an annual award to a senior political science major for superior academic achievement.

Advanced Placement

Advanced placement credits are not accepted for credit in the political science major or minor programs.

Transfer Credit

The department will accept for major credit a maximum of two political science courses taken at other institutions. Only one transfer credit will be accepted toward the minor. These courses must have been approved for transfer credit by the Colgate registrar and by the member of the Department of Political Science designated to evaluate them. In all instances, courses accepted for major or minor credit must be comparable in quality, quantity of reading and writing, and scope of coverage to courses offered in the department. Transfer credits will not ordinarily be offered for POSC 100-level courses or POSC 232 . Students who anticipate applying for major or minor credit for a course or courses to be taken at another institution should consult with the faculty member evaluating them before enrolling elsewhere.

Honors and High Honors

Students with outstanding records in political science may pursue honors. To qualify, a student must have, at graduation, an overall GPA of 3.40 and a departmental GPA of 3.50 in the eleven or more courses taken to satisfy the major requirement for honors. A student must enroll in the year-long honors colloquium (POSC 498  and POSC 499 ). Major credit and grades used in determining departmental GPA will be awarded for both courses. Each student in the fall while enrolled in POSC 498  will complete an in-depth written literature review of his or her subject of interest; then, in the spring while enrolled in POSC 499 , students will write a lengthy thesis. Each course is graded separately, but enrollment in POSC 499  is contingent on the successful completion of POSC 498 , and the recommendation of the seminar director and the student’s primary adviser. Although these courses are designed for and required of those hoping to stand for honors or high honors at graduation, neither is restricted to them; rising seniors with a strong interest in some area of political science and a proven academic record of accomplishment who would like to explore further a chosen area of research in a collaborative environment should also consider enrolling. It is critically important that juniors interested in doing an honors thesis in their senior year, speak both with their advisers and members of the faculty conducting research in an area of common interest while searching for a primary adviser to guide their independent research during their senior year.

All students who have successfully completed the honors sequence will be eligible for honors or high honors. Whether a student receives honors or high honors ultimately depends upon the outcome of their thesis research. To be awarded honors, a thesis must be judged superior both by the faculty member guiding the student’s research and the seminar director of POSC 499 . A thesis judged by these readers to be potentially worthy of high honors will, with the agreement of the student, be submitted to a third reader. An oral defense will then be scheduled at which time the student is examined both on the content of the thesis and his or her knowledge of the general field of inquiry. The three readers then make the final decision as to whether the student will receive high honors at graduation.

Related Majors

  • Asian Studies  Students may select a topical major in Asian studies with a focus on India, China, or Japan, including related departmental courses in political science.
  • International Relations  Students with a singular focus on the international political realm take, in conjunction with those in political science, courses in the languages, economics, history, and allied fields.
  • Peace and Conflict Studies  Students interested in this major may enroll in the interdisciplinary Peace and Conflict Studies Program.

Study Groups


The Washington Study Group, conducted in the spring term each year, provides a unique opportunity for a select group of Colgate students to study the working processes of the American national government at close range. See “Undergraduate Program ”. Study group members take four courses during their term in Washington, one of which is an internship. Students receive three course credits toward completing the political science major (POSC 410 , POSC 412 , and POSC 414 ) and one university credit toward graduation (POSC 413). Prerequisites: POSC 150 , POSC 210 , or POSC 211 .

Geneva, Switzerland

The Geneva Study Group, conducted in the fall and/or spring terms of each year, provides a rewarding opportunity for a highly select group of Colgate students to study the workings of international organizations, the politics of the European Union and of Western European nations, and other related matters while living and traveling in the heart of Western Europe. Intensive language and cultural immersion in a French homestay, and internship opportunities working in international and non-governmental organizations are important parts of the program.

At least one college-level French course is a prerequisite. Study group directors may specify other prerequisites, but as a general rule students are required to take POSC 232  prior to the start of the program. Students are also strongly encouraged to take at least one other political science or history course in the politics, culture, history, international relations, or economies of Europe.

For further information, please see Off-Campus Study .


Majors and Minors