Political Science is the study of how societies make collective decisions through politics and government. It is subdivided into the following areas: American politics (study of American institutions and practices); comparative politics (study of foreign governments); international relations (study of war, international organization, and foreign policies); political theory (study of the bases of legitimate political authority); political behavior (study of why people vote and act as they do in political matters); and public policy (study of organizational decision-making and the consequences of government action).
The objective of the Political Science major is to give the student a general introduction to all the major subfields of the discipline and an in-depth exposure to one or two of them. Students study not only the major literature of the subfields, but also learn research methods and become familiar with ongoing research. Internships in Long Island, Albany, and Washington offer selected students the opportunity to gain practical experience.
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.
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.