Political Science


Dr. Shelley Tomkin, Professor of Political Science (program chair)
The Hon. Barbara Kennelly, Distinguished Professor of Political Science
Dr. Kathleen McGinnis, Professor of Political Science


The Political Science Program emphasizes both the study of political science as a discipline and the active, practical participation of students in the political process. In addition to course work, students participate in a wide variety of internships and fieldwork classes in Washington, D.C., to learn politics through direct observation and involvement.

The major in political science is designed to help students effectively fulfill their expanding roles in public life. Knowledge of governmental affairs in combination with communication and research skills can open a wide vista of challenging opportunities. Trinity looks to its political science majors to provide the much-needed dedication and leadership qualities aimed at achieving an enriched and more just society.

Political science provides students with grounding in several fields including American government, comparative political systems, international relations, political theory, and field experience afforded by Trinity’s location in the nation’s capital. This resource serves students in two ways: first, through utilization of the city’s political and governmental institutions as learning laboratories and second, by providing students with professional contacts and networking opportunities well before they graduate. In addition, political science majors can combine a thorough grounding in political science theory and methodology with a self-directed focus on selected public policy topics and/or with multidisciplinary course selections through the general education curriculum and complementary courses in other disciplines.

An analysis of the many aspects of leadership as well as the concept itself is woven into every political science course. The Political Science Program is also sensitive to the needs of women not only through gender-specific courses but also through many other courses that address issues and processes of special significance to women. The comparative politics sequence and international relations courses in particular provide an essential resource for the development of multicultural awareness.

Courses in the Political Science Program fall into the following categories: international relations (IR), comparative politics (COMP), political theory (PT), American politics (AMER), field experience/internship (FD), and advanced seminars (SEM). Each course taken may be counted to fulfill only one distribution requirement for the major, even if the course falls into two categories.

The Political Science Program supports a major and minor in the College of Arts and Sciences.


Major Requirements (39-40 credits)

ONE introductory course chosen from:

POLS 101 Politics, Power, and You: Democracy at the Crossroads
POLS 103 The American Political Process

TWO courses in international relations (IR)
TWO courses in comparative politics (COMP)
TWO courses in political theory (PT)
TWO courses in American politics (AMER)
TWO courses in internships or field work (FD)*
ONE approved research methods course such as MATH 110 Introduction to Statistics or additional field work in political science
TWO advanced seminars (SEM)

* Students may take either one field work course and one internship, two internships, or two fieldwork courses.

Minor Requirements (18 credits)

Students pursuing the minor should complete 18 credits of political science courses. Internships cannot be counted toward the minor.

Program Policies

Advanced Placement:
Advanced Placement credit will be accepted by the Political Science Program in American government and comparative politics at the 4 or 5 level.

CLEP Policy:
Students wishing to receive credit for CLEP examinations should consult the Program Chair.

Grades in Major Courses:
Students are required to earn a grade of “C-” (1.7) or better in all courses counted to fulfill requirements for the major.

Pass/No Pass:
Courses fulfilling the major requirement may not be taken pass/no pass, except for POLS 491 Internship Internship.

Senior Assessment:
Students must achieve a passing grade on the senior comprehensive examination in order to graduate with a major in political science.

TELL Policy:
Students may receive no more than 12 political science elective credits through the TELL Program.

Transfer Credits:
No more than 15 credits in courses equivalent to those required for the major may be accepted toward the major in political science. No more than nine credits may be accepted toward the minor in political science.

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