Undergraduate FAQ

What is Political Science?

Political Science is the study of how societies make collective decisions through politics and government. It is usually subdivided into the following areas: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, Political Behavior and Public Policy.

What careers are there for Political Science Majors?

Some students attend graduate school, complete their Ph.D. degree and teach and conduct research in universities. Others work in all areas of governmental administration, urban and regional planning, policy analysis for legislatures and other decision-making bodies and public opinion survey research. Some students enter special programs in public administration, which train them for planning, policy analysis, management and other aspects of public administration. Others enter master's degree programs in international relations that prepare them for the Foreign Service and International administration in both the public and private sectors.

In addition to public administration, political science provides a strong liberal arts background for students who may enter the fields of journalism, business, social welfare and law. Those who graduate from law school work in law firms, in federal, state or local government and in private business. Most of Stony Brook's political science majors plan to go to law school and nearly all who apply are admitted, many of them to top-ranking institutions. These students have had better than average success in obtaining entrance to graduate schools. Some political science majors from Stony Brook have found jobs directly after graduation in government and industry.

Are there any courses for non-majors?

Introductory courses in political science presume no previous background in the area and are often taken by non-majors as well as by majors. In addition, many advanced courses, such as Classical Theory and some comparative politics courses, encourage the enrollment of students who major in other fields and have not necessarily taken courses in political science. Pre-law students majoring in other disciplines often participate with majors in the Constitutional Law, Law and Politics, and Federalism courses.

What is the Political Science Faculty like? How much attention do they pay to Undergraduates?

The faculty is relatively young. Some instructors have established excellent relationships with students, setting up informal meetings and talks (with refreshments) outside normal class hours. The Political Science Faculty is strongly oriented toward research and their research interests are reflected in the undergraduate curriculum by the number of courses that are devoted to public policy and to the study of political behavior and political attitudes. With a few exceptions, the student evaluation of faculty teaching in political science is extremely high.

What facilities are available for studying Political Science?

The University library contains an adequate collection of materials for undergraduate work in political science. Students benefit from access to the stacks where they may freely examine parliamentary debates and other governmental documents as well as a very wide selection of journals and books relating to political activity in all its manifestations. In addition, the Department's Tanenhaus Memorial Library provides political science materials and study facilities that undergraduates are encouraged to use. Also, the Department has a Laboratory for Behavioral Research as well as other facilities for experimental studies of political behavior. Selected students are eligible to participate in research projects using these facilities.

What special opportunities are available for undergraduates?

Various internship programs are available to political science students. In Washington, the Washington/Albany Internship Program provides Stony Brook students with opportunities to work in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives Staff Offices, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and many other federal agencies. In Albany, the Program offers similar opportunities for students who wish to gain experience in aspects of New York State government. Finally, qualified students may participate in other local and state internships.

The Political Science Department, also, participates in the URECA Program, which provides undergraduates with the opportunity to conduct research with faculty members. The Political Science Department sponsors talks and colloquia by faculty and off-campus guest speakers to which undergraduates are invited.

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Department of Political Science • Social and Behavioral Sciences Building, 7th Floor, Stony Brook, NY 11794-4392 • Phone: 631-632-7650 • Fax: 631-632-4116