Political Science (BA)

Program Details

Program of Study

The department offers a major in Political Science. The major emphasizes a well-rounded education that helps students understand and prepare for careers related to domestic and international politics. Students may also select options of study in American Government, International Relations/Comparative Politics, Public Administration/Public Policy, and Pre-Law. All students take core courses in American Government, International Relations, Comparative Politics, Critical Thinking, and Senior Seminar in Political Science. Students taking a specific option will take a number of directed electives in their chosen option. The options offer more structure in an area of specialization, but the number of hours required for the major remains 36 semester hours (sh). The department also offers minors in Political Science, Public Administration, and International Relations.


Courses are taught by faculty holding doctoral degrees from universities across the U.S., including Harvard University; Georgetown University; Northern Illinois University; Hamline University; and the Universities of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Florida at Gainesville, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Texas at Austin, and Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Our faculty members come from diverse backgrounds and have a wide range of academic specialties.

While most faculty are involved in active research, our primary mission is that of teaching and mentoring, and we take this mission seriously. All Political Science courses taken by our majors are taught by faculty members rather than by graduate students or teaching assistants. Most courses enroll fewer than 40 students.


There are four departmental scholarships available to our majors. The Marcy & Lulu Bodine Scholarship is awarded each year to an outstanding incoming freshman major. This scholarship is renewable for up to three additional years. The Charles Leonard, Don Marshall, and Clarence Neff Scholarships are awarded annually to deserving freshmen and transfer students. Detailed information on scholarships is available from the department office, (309) 298-1055; Western’s Scholarship office, (309) 298-2001; or on the Web at

Honors in Political Science

To be eligible for the Centennial Honors College, entering freshmen must have an ACT composite score of at least 28 OR have a 26 or 27 composite ACT and be in the top 15% of their graduating class OR have an ACT composite score of at least 24 and be in the top 10% of their high school graduating class. A comparable SAT score is acceptable. Transfer and current WIU students who wish to join the Honors College (including the Quad Cities Honors Program) must have a 3.4 grade point average on a 4.0 scale based on 12 sh or more. Honors credit is given for honors coursework completed at other accredited institutions. To find out more, visit

General honors seminars in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences provide students with the opportunity to explore key academic issues with distinguished faculty members.

Integrated Baccalaureate and Master's Degree in Political Science

The Department of Political Science at Western Illinois University offers qualified applicants the opportunity to earn the BA and MA degrees in five years. During their senior year, students may take three courses that will count for both the BA and MA degrees, allowing them to complete the remaining requirements for the Master of Arts in one additional calendar year. The department curriculum provides students with a broad and solid foundation in political science suitable for building careers in teaching, government service, politics, community development, and continued study at the doctoral level.

Special Opportunities

The department is a member of the Western Survey Research Center. The center administers sample surveys for both the University and the local community as well as statewide. Survey research is an integral component of a number of courses in the department and offers a set of marketable skills that are much in demand in the private and public sectors.

The department strongly recommends that all majors supplement their classroom education with the practical, hands-on experience of an internship. Students can receive up to 6 sh of course credit that can be applied to the major. The department also has established a scholarship fund to subsidize these internships. In recent years, our students have served internships in the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of State, and the Illinois legislature as well as in many governmental agencies at the local, state, and national levels.

After College

Mock press meeting

The levels of government—local, state, and federal—employ approximately one-sixth of the labor force in the United States. The Political Science major prepares students for many governmental positions, including administrative officer, budget analyst, city manager, city planner, environmental management specialist, and criminal investigator. In addition, the Political Science major provides preparation for persons seeking positions with interest groups that represent diverse issues before the government.

The Political Science major is a typical component in preparation for the law school career path. Our graduates have been admitted to all of the law schools in Illinois and to many law schools throughout the country, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Georgetown.

Political science is an integral part of the curriculum of high schools, colleges, and universities. Many of our graduates are teaching at the secondary level, while others, after completing graduate degrees, teach in colleges and universities.

For students interested in careers in international and comparative politics and business, opportunities are expanding as countries become increasingly interdependent. Our graduates have been successful in securing positions with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, international organizations, and multinational corporations.

Possible Careers

Western political science graduates work all over the world in a variety of careers. Our alumni include prominent attorneys, top staffers in the executive and legislative branches of government, officials at international organizations, lobbyists in Springfield and Washington, city managers, campaign consultants, and elected officials, among others.

Other careers possible with a Political Science major/minor include;

  • Activist, Advocate/Organizer
  • Administration, Corporate, Government, Non-Profit, etc.
  • Attorney
  • Campaign Operative
  • Career Counselor
  • CIA Analyst or Agent
  • Congressional Office/Committee Staffer
  • Coordinator of Federal or State Aid
  • Communications Director
  • Congressional Staffer
  • Corporate Public Affairs Advisor
  • Corporate Adviser for Govt'l. Relations
  • Elected Official (Legislator, Governor, Representative)
  • Federal Government Analyst
  • Foreign Service Officer
  • Foundation President
  • Government Affairs Manager
  • Human Right Case Worker
  • Information Manager
  • Intelligence Analyst or Officer
  • International Agency Officer
  • International Research Specialist
  • Issues Analyst, Corporate Social Policy Div.
  • Juvenile Justice Specialist
  • Labor Relations Specialist
  • Legislative Analyst / Coordinator
  • Legislator (same as Elected Official)
  • Lobbyist
  • Mediator
  • Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Administrator
  • Policy Analyst
  • Political Commentator
  • Pollster
  • Public Affairs Research Analyst
  • Public Opinion Analyst
  • State Legislator

Please refer to the undergraduate catalog for detailed program information and course requirements.


(American Government and Politics)

122 American Government and Politics. (3) (General Education/Social Sciences) Development, organization, powers, limitation, and practical problems of the governmental and political system of the United States. IAI: S5 900.

223 State Government and Politics. (3) The role of state and local governments within the American federal system. IAI: S5 902.

311 (Cross-listed with AAS 311) Race and Ethnicity in American Politics. (3) This course examines how racial and ethnic minority groups shape, and are shaped by, American politics and society. It focuses primarily on the politics of specific racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States. Not open to students with credit in AAS 311. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

315 Illinois Government and Politics. (3) A comprehensive study of Illinois government. Special attention to constitutional developments and the organization and functioning of the government. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or 223, or permission of instructor.

317 The Congress. (3) The role of the national legislature in its relationship to the structure of American government and the legislative process. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

318 The Presidency. (3) Analysis of the powers of the President and the relationship of the office to the legislative and judicial branches. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

319 The Judiciary. (3) Functions and role of the federal court system and the judicial process. Emphasis on decision-making, judges, the legal profession, and administration of the courts. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

328 Politics and the Media. (3) This course will explore the power and limits of the media in American politics as well as the ways in which the media defines the “news.” Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

350 Political Campaigns and Elections. (3) Development of a practical understanding and skill in politics and campaigns through classroom instruction and participation in campaigning. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

370 Urban Government and Politics. (3) Organization and functions of the government of cities: urban politics, problems, and policies. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or 300 or permission of instructor.

395 Politics and Religion in America. (3) The impact of religion in contemporary American political life, focusing on constitutional issues, electoral politics, and more generally, the interaction between politics and religion. Prerequisite: POLS 101 or 122 or permission of instructor.

410 Constitutional Law: Government Organization and Powers. (3) An examination of constitutional law in the United States with special emphasis on cases dealing with the framework, powers, and functions of the federal system. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

411 Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. (3) An examination of U.S. Constitutional law, with special emphasis upon civil liberties and civil rights cases. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

448 The Supreme Court. (3) An examination of the process and politics of the U.S. Supreme Court with emphasis on decision making and on a simulation of the Supreme Court process. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

(Comparative Government and Politics)

267 Introduction to Comparative Government and Politics. (3) (General Education/Social Sciences) (Global Issues) An introduction to important analytical concepts in comparative politics, the major types of political systems, and major components of the political process. IAI: S5 905.

322 European Politics. (3) (Global Issues) This course examines the origins and bodies of the European Union, major issues in contemporary European politics and society, and the political institutions of European countries, including Britain, France, Germany, and Poland. Prerequisite: POLS 267 or permission of instructor.

327 (Cross-listed with AAS 327) African Politics. (3) This course examines the nature of institutions and political rule in Africa before and after independence. Key topics include the colonial inheritance, ethnicity and social characteristics of African societies, and the nature and role of political institutions. Not open to student with credit in AAS 327. Prerequisite: POLS 267 or permission of instructor.

329 Latin American Politics. (3) (General Education/Multicultural Studies) (Global Issues) An examination of the colonial legacy, role of the United States in the region, current economic and social conditions, and political institutions of different countries including Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. Prerequisite: POLS 267 or permission of instructor.

400 Comparative Public Policy. (3) (Global Issues) Examines the public policy process and public policy outcomes using a comparative perspective. It analyzes different policy areas (immigration, crime, drugs, etc.) in diverse contexts—industrial and developing countries—and in selected cases in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Prerequisite: POLS 300 or 302 or permission of instructor.

424 Politics, Poverty, and Society in the Developing World. (3) This course introduces students to the main challenges facing developing countries, including but not limited to democratic change, the struggle against poverty, ethnic conflicts, rural and urban change, and the role of women. Prerequisite: POLS 267 or permission of instructor.

(International Relations)

228 Fundamentals of International Relations. (3) (General Education/Social Sciences) (Global Issues) An introduction to both the major concepts and approaches in the study of international relations, and to the contemporary international system, its components, and its problems. IAI: S5 904.

305 International Relations Theories and Approaches. (3) A systematic analysis of theories and approaches in the study of international relations intended as a follow-up course to POLS 228 and a theoretical preparation for other international relations courses. Prerequisites: POLS 228 or permission of instructor.

331 United States Foreign Policy. (3) (Global Issues) The role of the United States in the family of nations. The apparatus, materials, and methods of foreign policy. The significance of foreign policy as part of the political system of the United States. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or 228, or permission of instructor.

332 United States Defense Policy and National Security. (3) The organization and role of the National Security Council, Defense Department, military establishment, and CIA. Topics include military technology, warfare, deterrence, arms control, and the defense budget. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or 228, or permission of instructor.

334 Politics of the Global Economy. (3) (Global Issues) Political analysis of theories and operation of the modern international economy, including international institutions and transnational corporations, the globalization of finance and production, and issues of dominance and dependence. Prerequisite: POLS 228 or permission of instructor.

338 The United Nations and International Organization. (3) (Global Issues) A study of world and regional organization as reflections of world politics, as instruments of foreign policies, and as forces for change and order. Prerequisite: POLS 228 or permission of instructor.

340 US-China Relations. (3) Study of contemporary relations between the United States and China, examining shifting patterns of cooperation and competition on a wide range of issues. Prerequisite: POLS 228 or permission of instructor.

440 National Security and Arms Control. (3) (Global Issues) Systematic analysis of the disarmament efforts of nations; problems of U.S. national security and arms control; economic and political implications. Prerequisite: POLS 228 or permission of instructor.

446 Conflict Resolution and International Peacekeeping. (3) (Global Issues) Study of the history and practice of international peacekeeping operations. Emphasis on international organizations and the feasibility of conflict resolution and collective security. Prerequisites: POLS 122 and 228.

(Political Theory)

200 Introduction to Political Thought. (3) (General Education/Social Sciences) Survey of political theorists from Socrates to present with special emphasis on the themes of justice, community, equity, liberty, and freedom.

381 Classical Political Theory. (3) The development of Western political philosophy from Plato to Machiavelli with particular emphasis on justice and the good society. Prerequisite: POLS 101 or 122, or permission of instructor.

382 Modern Political Theory. (3) A study of modern and contemporary political theories from Machiavelli to the present with particular emphasis on such concepts as justice, liberty, freedom, and equality. Prerequisite: POLS 101 or 122, or permission of instructor.

383 American Political Thought. (3) Introduction to political theory in the United States designed to present a balanced picture of the origins and development of American political ideas from colonial times to the present. Prerequisite: POLS 101 or 122, or permission of instructor.

389 Politics and Ethics. (3) The course will focus on the ethics of the process of decision making by public officials in a representative democracy. The course also will examine the ethical issues raised by public policies on abortion, affirmative action, and the environment. Prerequisite: POLS 122.

(Public Administration)

300 Introduction to Public Administration. (3) Policy development and the implementation by governmental agencies; the exercise of discretion by administrative bodies, their responsibility to elected public officials, and their responsiveness to societal demands. Prerequisite: POLS 101 or 122, or permission of instructor.

302 Introduction to Public Policy. (3) A comprehensive study of public policymaking and systematic description, explanation, and evaluation of the processes in which public policies are developed, legitimized, funded, implemented, and evaluated in terms of their social impact. Prerequisite: POLS 101 or 122 or permission of instructor.

393 Environmental Politics. (3) A study of the political, legal, administrative, and regulatory aspects of controlling pollution, protecting environmental quality, and managing natural resources. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

447 Administrative Law and Politics. (3) A course about the cases and legal system surrounding public administration and public employees. Topics include the delegation of power to agencies, Separation of Powers, due process rights when dealing with the bureaucracy, and contemporary issues in administrative law. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or 300, or permission of instructor.

490 Public Policy Analysis and Bureaucracy. (3) The role of the public bureaucracy in the policy-making and policy-formation process. Legislative and judicial policymaking are contrasted with administrative policy-making. Prerequisite: POLS 300 or 302 or permission of instructor.

493 Seminar in Organization Theory and Behavior. (3) Review of classical and modern theories of administration. Goals and expectations of high echelon administrators. Treatment of authority relationships in formal organizations. Prerequisite: POLS 300 or 302 or permission of instructor.

494 Public Budgeting. (3) Financial and budgetary processes and problems of public agencies at various governmental levels. Includes types and functions of budgets. Systematic program evaluation and budgetary allocation questions are emphasized. Prerequisite: POLS 300 or 302 or permission of instructor.

(General and Special Courses)

101 Introduction to Political Science. (3) (General Education/Social Sciences) Designed to acquaint the beginning student with the scope and methods of Political Science and with basic elements of democratic theory. IAI: S5 903.

201 Current Events and Politics. (3) Close examination of current political events with consideration of methodologies and tools available to help citizens understand these events. Evaluation of how contested issues and problems are portrayed and debated by political elites, the media, and grassroots organizations.

226 Introduction to Law and Society. (3) An introduction to a variety of perspectives of law and society including the origins and functions of law, law as an agent of social control and social change, tort reform, the role of lawyers, and modern legal controversies.

284 Political Research and Analysis. (3) Designed to acquaint the student with the relationship between political theory and data. Relevant data bases in Political Science (e.g., political socialization, voting behavior) are used to explore and test hypotheses in Political Science. Prerequisite: POLS 101 or 122, or permission of instructor.

298 Individual Studies. (1–3) Special projects in Political Science carried out under the supervision of a faculty member. Prerequisites: at least one other course in Political Science and permission of instructor.

301 Politics and Cinema. (3) An examination of films which deal with political themes such as racism, war, and revolution. This course includes a weekly viewing of a film and a discussion section of 75 minutes. See class schedule for listing of discussion sections. Prerequisite: POLS 101 or 122, or permission of instructor.

304 Judicial Simulation. (3) A course guiding students through basic trial procedure including opening and closing statements, examination of witnesses, rules of evidence, and case themes and strategies. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

306 Politics and Game Theory. (3) Game theory is a method to understand the strategic interaction between people in different situations using games. This course introduces game theory and applies it to Political Science topics such as voting, war, bargaining, campaigns, and jury decisions. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or permission of instructor.

308 (Cross-listed with PSY 308) Political Psychology. (3) A study of the psychological underpinnings of political behavior to better understand how individuals make sense of and react to the political world. Not open to students with credit in PSY 308. Prerequisite: POLS 122 or PSY 100, or permission of instructor.

335 (Cross-listed with WS 335) Women and Politics. (3) (General Education/Multicultural Studies) An examination of the changing role of women in American politics. Focus on women as participants in politics, public policies of concern to women, and feminist theories of political change. Not open to students with credit in WS 335. Prerequisite: POLS 101 or 122 or permission of instructor.

353 Terrorism and Political Conflict. (3) (Global Issues) An examination of the political and ideological sources of modern terrorism and the evolving implications for international and domestic politics. Prerequisite: POLS 228 or permission of instructor.

401 Independent Study. (1–6, repeatable to 6) Individual study and research in any subfield of Political Science. Prerequisite: at least sophomore standing and permission of instructor and advisor.

402 Internship in Public Affairs. (1-12, repeatable to 12) Actual work assignments in public or private agencies related to government, politics, or public affairs. A maximum of 6 s.h. may be counted towards the Political Science major. Prerequisite: Political Science major or permission of the department chair and internship coordinator.

415 (Cross-listed with WS 415) Politics of Reproduction. (3) This course examines reproduction as an issue of public interest and considers how public and private interests can conflict regarding women’s ability to control their reproduction. Not open to students with credit in WS 415. Prerequisite: WS 190 or permission of instructor.

432 (Cross-listed with SOC 432) Survey Research. (3) An overview of how to design, conduct, and present the results of social surveys. The course includes a familiarization with data preparation for computer processing and an introduction to using computer software statistical packages. Not open to students with credit in SOC 432. Prerequisite: any university level statistics course or consent of instructor.

465 Genocide in Our Time. (3) (Global Issues) Case studies of recent genocides with examples form Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Examination of the perspectives of social scientists, victims, perpetrators, and witnesses. Prerequisite: POLS 228 or 267, or permission of instructor.

479 Practicum in Survey Research Methods. (3) Students will work one-on-one with a faculty member on a research project in survey research. This course brings together the theory and practice of survey research methods. Prerequisites: Successful completion of POLS 284 and POLS/SOC 432.

484 Advanced Political Research and Analysis. (3) A hands-on class about the use of statistics to analyze and present quantitative data and account for a variety of political phenomena. Prerequisite: POLS 284 or STAT 171, or permission of instructor.

492 Senior Seminar in Political Science. (3) Survey of major concepts and theories of Political Science. Students will read important works from the discipline and will write a research paper. Writing Instruction in the Discipline WID course. Prerequisites: senior Political Science major, ENG 280, and permission of Political Science advisor.


Department of Political Science

Dr. Keith Boeckelman, Chairperson

455 Morgan Hall, 1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455
Phone: 309-298-1055
Fax: 309-298-1739

Political Science Website

College of Arts and Sciences

Morgan Hall 114
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455
Phone: 309-298-1828

College of Arts and Sciences website


Ralph Heissinger
Morgan Hall 436
Phone: 309-298-1129

Students working together in a Political Science class