Jul 02, 2022  
2019-2020 General Catalog 
2019-2020 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Political Science

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Department Office
Stevenson Hall 2070
(707) 664-2179

Department Chair
David McCuan

Administrative Staff
Jill Siliznoff
Kelly Clark


Cynthia Boaz
Willie Gin
David McCuan
Robert McNamara
Catherine Nelson
Diane Parness
Emily Ray

*Faculty Early Retirement Program

The Political Science program at Sonoma State University offers excellent opportunities for the study of government, politics, and the exercise of political power. More than 40 courses cover all the major aspects of the discipline. Students develop an understanding of broad, philosophical questions as they relate to politics. They learn to discuss and analyze critically U.S. political institutions and the many public policy issues facing the United States and the world. Students are taught how to analyze and understand world affairs and international relations. They are taught how to evaluate and compare political phenomena across different countries. Students are trained in appropriate research techniques for the study of political actors, institutions and processes in a complex, interdependent and diverse world.

The Political Science major allows students to choose from a wide range of courses and subjects within the political science discipline. A common core of courses provides students with the foundational knowledge and research skills needed to pursue more advanced work at the upper division level. In core courses students study the relationship among values, ideology, and politics (POLS 201 ); fundamental issues in American politics (POLS 202 ); the logic of research in political science (POLS 302 ); comparative political analysis (POLS 303 ); theory and analysis of international politics (POLS 304 ); and a senior research seminar (POLS 498 ). Beyond this common core, as part of the additional 20 units required for the major, each student must complete at least one upper-division course in each of the four major fields of political science: political theory, international relations, comparative government, and American government and politics. Since politics and economics are so closely tied together, the department recommends each student complete a basic course in economics. The Department also strongly recommends that students take SSCI 299 - Sophomore Seminar: How to Think Like a Social Scientist  (fulfills GE Area E). In addition, the Department encourages international study for Political Science students and will arrange for appropriate credits for courses of study at international universities.

A 20-unit minor in Political Science also is available. Although the minor most often is used in conjunction with such majors as communications, history, economics, and sociology, it can be paired with almost any major offered at the University.


The Department offers several programs through which students may gain practical experience while earning academic credit. A Political Science internship involves working in the office of a public official, on an election campaign, or for an advocacy group or nonprofit organization. Interns have served with State Assembly Members, State Senators, Members of Congress, and in a number of campaigns for local, state, and national office.  Students have also worked with advocacy groups and nonprofit organizations to effect change at the local, state, national and international levels. The graduate program in Public Administration places students in positions, often paid, with local government offices and agencies where they may be involved with city planning and zoning issues, public relations efforts, special research topics, budget preparation, to mention several possibilities. In addition, the Department regularly sends selected students to the state capitol to participate in the Sacramento Semester Program where they work with members of the Legislature, officers of the executive branch, or lobbyists to gain a fuller understanding of the political process firsthand. Finally, special arrangements also may be made for some students to serve as interns to members of Congress in Washington, D.C., for a semester.

Academic Advising

Each student is assigned a faculty advisor to help plan and carry out an individualized academic program. The Department expects students to seek faculty advice every semester, especially prior to registering for their next semester’s courses.


Students are encouraged to take English composition and social science courses, including civics, economics, and history. Experience in journalism and debating activities can also be helpful. A foreign language is highly recommended but not required for the degree. Students who plan further study at the graduate level are strongly encouraged to take courses in an appropriate foreign language, since proficiency in two foreign languages is often required in doctoral programs.

Community college transfer students should contact their advising office, the Sonoma State University Political Science Department or consult the ASSIST.org website to identify appropriate lower-division major/minor preparatory courses. Typically, these would include a basic course in American political institutions, which would fulfill the state code requirements for U.S. Constitution and California state and local government and meet the department core requirement in American Political Systems. Other lower-division courses introducing students to the discipline of political science, the study of international relations, and the study of comparative politics also are highly recommended. The POLS 200 /POLS 202  requirement can be met by a combination of AP American Government credit and POLS 151 . The POLS 201 - Ideas and Institutions  core requirement can be met if students take both Introduction to Political Theory and Introduction to Comparative Government at a community college.

Teaching Credential Preparation

Political Science majors interested in seeking a general elementary credential may demonstrate subject matter competency by passing the CSET Multiple Subject Assessment for Teachers.* For further information, contact the department office, or School of Social Sciences, (707) 664-2409.

* Or the CSET Single-Subject Assessment for Teachers

Careers in Political Science

Law and Paralegal Careers

A bachelor’s degree in Political Science offers excellent preparation for a wide range of careers in the public, private and non profit sectors. In particular, Political Science majors acquire the broad based knowledge and research, analytical and communications skills desirable to twenty-first century employers. A major in Political Science prepares students for the study and practice of law. The Department offers a number of specialized courses in the field of constitutional law and civil liberties. The degree also provides a foundation for public service careers at the national, state and local levels, including teaching, research, administration, planning, policy analysis and public office holder. Political Science is also an appropriate major for students interested in positions in the overseas agencies of the U.S. government or in international organizations. The major can lead to opportunities in campaign management, speech writing, polling, public relations, lobbying, and voting analysis. Political Science students have also entered journalism careers in television, and social and print media. A Political Science degree also offers excellent preparation for a degree in the private sector, such as labor relations, information analyst, governmental relations or budget analyst.


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