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Undergraduate Minor inPolitical Science

Program summary

Build a broad base of knowledge in political science that can help widen your career path. This minor draws on the extensive research resources offered by Penn State’s Department of Political Science.

Credits and costs

18 Credits$626/$671 per credit

Enhance Your Penn State Degree

Add a minor to get even more value out of your education.

Gain Specialized Knowledge

Earning a minor enables you to complement your major, pursue a personal interest, or explore a different field of study.

A political science minor can provide you with an adaptable set of skills that are valued by employers — and help you establish a more flexible career path in a rapidly changing world. Penn State’s Department of Political Science is widely recognized as one of the nation’s most active centers for empirical research in a broad range of political science issues. The knowledge and skill that you gain can prepare you to work in a variety of fields, including but not limited to government, law, business, journalism, and the nonprofit sector.

The political science minor will introduce you to political processes and institutions through a selection of 18 credits, with at least one course in each of the following political science areas: American politics, theory/methodology, comparative politics, and international relations. Courses used to satisfy General Education, bachelor of arts degree requirements, electives, and major requirements may also be used to satisfy requirements for the minor.

In this program, you will have the opportunity to study with highly regarded faculty from Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts, one of the premier institutions in the world to study and work in the liberal arts disciplines.

This minor is open to all interested undergraduate World Campus students who meet the prerequisites; it is most useful if you are majoring in law and society, criminal justice, or letters, arts, and sciences.

Courses

The 18 credits of course work include at least one course in four of the five political science areas:

  • American politics
  • political theory
  • political methodology
  • comparative politics
  • international relations 

Six of these 18 credits must be at the 400 level. A grade of "C" or better is required in all courses that you take to fulfill requirements for the minor.

Convenient and Flexible

Each course is taught using a blend of web technology, print, and other media to maximize flexibility while maintaining teacher and student interaction. As a Penn State World Campus student, you have the opportunity to learn when and where it's most convenient for you.

Required Courses (select 18 credits)

Students are required to choose at least one course from each course list: American politics, international relations, comparative politics, and theory/methodology.

American Politics

  • 3
    credits

    This course examines the American democracy by looking at the dynamic interaction between the founding ideals of the United States government, the institutions established by the Constitution, and the ongoing contest for power within and through those institutions.

  • 3
    credits

    This course explores the historical and contemporary struggles of particular groups within American society to expand their rights.

  • 3
    credits

    This course provides students with the tools to empirically evaluate policy proposals and outcomes in the American states.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 1 and PLSC 309

  • 3
    credits

    This course engages students in the empirical study of electoral politics in the United States.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 1 and PLSC 309

  • 3
    credits

    This course engages students in the empirical study of public opinion.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 1 and PLSC 309

  • 3
    credits

    An examination of how politics and public policy affect and are shaped by the news media, as a political institution, in America.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 1 or PLSC 3

  • 3
    credits

    The origins of judicial review, landmark decisions of the Supreme Court, and their impact on the American form of government.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 1

  • 3
    credits

    Analysis of the roles, procedures, and policies characterizing the American legal system.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 1

  • 3
    credits

    Analyzes behavior of judges and other participants in the legal process; examines how and why courts function as policymaking bodies.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 1

  • 3
    credits

    Basic characteristics and processes of the national legislature and executive; roles and interaction of these institutions in the policy process.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 1

  • 3
    credits

    Advanced analysis of public policy, emphasizing policy evaluation and the factors that determine policy success and failure.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 1

Political Theory

  • 3
    credits

    Critical analysis of contemporary political ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism, anarchism, fascism, feminism, and environmentalism.

  • 3
    credits

    Introduction to basic issues in political theory through analysis of selected major political thinkers.

Political Methodology

  • 3
    credits

    This course introduces students to both the scientific study of politics and the way that study advances our understanding of political actors, events, processes, and institutions.

  • 3
    credits

    Introduction to conceptualization, research design, and measurement in political research.

    • Prerequisite

      any 3 credits in political science

  • 3
    credits

    Data analysis and statistical applications in political research, including data processing, inferential statistics, contingency analysis, correlation and regression, and multivariate analysis.

    • Prerequisite

      any 3 credits in political science

  • 3
    credits

    Introduction to various methods of analyzing strategic behavior using social choice and game theories.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 1 , PLSC 3 , or PLSC 14

Comparative Politics

  • 3
    credits

    This course examines the variety of ways that people seek and wield power around the world. Through cross-national comparison and individual country analysis, the course considers different forms of democratic and authoritarian regimes, sources of stability and change in different regime types, and the relationship between cultural, economic, and social factors and political processes.

  • 3
    credits

    This course introduces students to the politics and governing institutions of European countries through a historical and comparative perspective.

  • 3
    credits

    Introduction to various methods of analyzing strategic behavior using social choice and game theories.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 1 , PLSC 3 , or PLSC 14

  • 3
    credits

    Social forces and processes, governmental institutions, foreign policies of major states of Latin America.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 3 or PLSC 200N

International Relations

  • 3
    credits

    Characteristics of modern nation-states and forces governing their international relations; nationalism; imperialism; diplomacy; current problems of war and peace.

  • 3
    credits

    Introduction to various methods of analyzing strategic behavior using social choice and game theories.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 1 , PLSC 3 , or PLSC 14

  • 3
    credits

    The transnational politics of trade, investment, aid, raw materials, and the environment; nation-states, multinational corporations, and the U.N.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 102, ECON 104, or IB 303

  • 3
    credits

    A survey of traditional and contemporary conceptual frameworks and theoretical approaches for the analysis of international relations.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 14

  • 3
    credits

    Analysis of political terrorism as a violent alternative for peaceful change and traditional warfare in the nuclear age.

    • Prerequisite

      CRIMJ 100 or PLSC 14 or permission of program

  • 3
    credits

    Principles of American foreign policy; processes of policy formulation; roles of the President, Congress, the State Department, and other government agencies.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 14

  • 3
    credits

    The international relations of the Middle East, stressing national security policies of regional and outside actors, and major contemporary conflicts.

    • Prerequisite

      PLSC 14 or HIST 181

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Undergraduate Tuition

Undergraduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register and the number of total credits you have accrued at or transferred to Penn State.

Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$626 per credit$671 per credit
12–19$7,602 per semester$8,206 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$632 per credit$678 per credit
12–19$7,678 per semester$8,288 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

How to Apply

Admissions Help

Please work with your adviser if you have questions about adding a minor. You can find your adviser's contact information in your student portal or by calling advising at 814-863-3283.

Admission Requirements

To be eligible for admittance into the political science minor, you must:

  • be a current Penn State undergraduate student in your fifth semester and be in a bachelor's degree major
  • maintain a grade of C or better in all courses for the minor
  • the minor code and major code cannot match

Adding a Minor

If you have achieved fifth-semester standing (60 credits completed), you can apply for admission to the minor. To begin, please follow these steps:

  1. Talk with your academic adviser about incorporating the minor into your major and to develop a semester-by-semester plan for meeting requirements.
  2. You can apply for the minor by adding it in LionPATH. You should do this as early as possible, but you can apply up to the late drop deadline of your graduating semester.
  3. You will receive a confirmation email once you declare the minor in LionPATH.

Technical Requirements

Review the technical requirements for this program.

Contact Us

To learn more about the Political Science Minor, offered in partnership with the Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs, please contact:

World Campus Advisers
Phone: 814-863-3283
Email: [email protected]