Political Science

Political Science

Courses & Curriculum

This major provides students with a comprehensive understanding of Political Science, including American Government, International Relations, Comparative Politics, and Political Philosophy. The major supplies students with an ideal academic background for careers in government, politics, the law, national security, business and education. The Political Science major also gives students a strong foundation for teaching social studies and can be combined with a major in secondary education. In addition, the Political Science major may be the basis for graduate study leading to careers in public policy, international governance, business or academia. 

Co-curricular Opportunities

  • Visits to Congress and the Supreme Court
  • Travel to Europe for EuroSim, an international inter-collegiate simulation of the European Union 
  • Internships in Buffalo, Albany and Washington, D.C. 
  • Experiential learning in the form of simulations of the National Security Council (PSC 346), Political campaigns (PSC 236) and the European Union  (PSC 355). 
  • Opportunities for students to present their research papers at student conferences
  • Several student clubs connected with American politics, world politics and the law 
  • Membership in Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society 
  • Awards for outstanding senior majors
  • Departmental Honors Program

Qualifications for the major

The major in Political Science must have a minimum grade of C in each of the following courses:  PSC 103, PSC 104, PSC 111, PSC 140, PSC 150 and PSC 217.  It is strongly recommended that these six courses be completed before the beginning of the junior year.

Political Science Curriculum:

1. Core Curriculum Requirements: 
View the Core Curriculum requirements.  All students complete these requirements as part of their overall Canisius education. 

2. Major course requirements:  (12 courses)

PSC 103 Constitutional Foundations of American Government 3 credits
PSC 104 American Political Process 3 credits
PSC 111 Western Political Tradition 3 credits
PSC 140 International Relations 3 credits
PSC 150 Comparative Government and Politics 3 credits
PSC 217 Research Methods 3 credits
PSC 400/401 Capstone 3 credits
Political Science electives: five courses, 
including at least two at the 300/400 level 
15 credits 

3.  Free electives:
Free electives are courses in addition to the Core Curriculum and major requirements sufficient to reach a minimum of 120 credit hours for graduation. Students may graduate with more but not less than 120 credit hours.  The following courses from other departments will count as PSC Electives: ECO 401, ECO 411, HIS 345, HIS 347, HIS 350, HIS 394 Students are expected to complete the following four courses in their first year: PSC 103, PSC 104, PSC 140, and PSC 150. These courses can be taken in any sequence. By the end of their second year, students are also expected to complete PSC 111 and PSC 217. PSC 400/401 (capstone course) should be taken in the spring of the senior year.

Other Programs

Department Honors Program
The Political Science Honors Program provides an opportunity for outstanding students in the major to go beyond the usual course offerings. Majors who take part in the program will engage in original research under the close supervision of a faculty member. The research project provides the opportunity for students to do independent study on a topic of their own choosing. Participants in the All-College Honors Program may use their senior thesis to fulfill this requirement, provided that this project is prepared under the direction of a member of the Political Science Department.

Taking part in the Honors program can also make students more competitive after graduation, whether for further schooling or employment. For example, students applying for graduate school or law school in their senior year can refer to the research paper in their application. At the same time, participation on the Departmental Honors Program will enable students’ faculty advisors to write more detailed and enthusiastic letters of recommendation for these applications.


  • Students may apply in the spring of their junior year or in their senior year 
  • Grade point average overall (to apply for the program and upon graduation): 3.30
  • Grade point average for major courses (to apply for the program and upon graduation): 3.50 
  • Honors Research: a lengthy paper involving original research in the field of Political Science under the direction of a member of the Political Science Department

Minor Degree Possibilities

In addition to the major, two minors are offered. The Political Science minor, for non-majors only, provides an introduction to and overview of the discipline. The Law and Public Policy minor, for both majors and non-majors, focuses on the relationship between the legal system and public policy.

Political Science Minor:

American Government and Politics (PSC 103)       3 credits
American Political Process (PSC 104) 3 credits
Political Theory (PSC 111) 3 credits
International Relations (PSC 140) 3 credits
Comparative Government (PSC 150) 3 credits
Public policy: one course (PSC 215, 237, 334) 3 credits
American Political Institutions and Behavior: 
1 course (PSC 224, 225, 325, 335)
3 credits
Total (7 courses) 21 credits

Law and Public Policy Minor:

PSC 103 Constitutional Foundations of 
American Government
     3 credits
PSC 215 National Issues and Public Policy 3 credits
PSC 245 American Foreign Policy 3 credits
PSC 320 American Constitutional Law I 
(Structures and Powers)
3 credits
PSC 321 American Constitutional Law II 
(Civil Liberties and Civil Rights)
3 credits
PSC 345 International Crime after 9/11 3 credits
ECO 401 Public Finance 3 credits
Total (7 courses) 21 credits

Dual Degree Possibilities

Most of the best majors in Political Science decide to build their resumes and enhance their post-graduate opportunities by earning dual or triple degrees with other programs. The most popular combinations are with Criminal Justice, European Studies, International Relations and Urban Studies. Other common dual degrees combine Political Science with Communication Studies, Economics, English, History, Modern Language and Sociology. Students planning dual or triple degrees should consult with their academic advisor in the Political Science department and the chair or director of each department or program involved.

Political Science & Law

The Political Science department is the home for the college’s pre-law center, and the Political Science major is the most common academic major for prospective law students. The college offers a recommended curriculum for pre-law studies, which can be easily combined with the Political Science major. For further information, students should consult with the chair of Political Science department and the director of the Pre-Law Center.

Political Science & Business

For Political Science majors considering a career in business and/or a master of business administration (MBA) degree, preparation can be obtained by taking a concentration in Business consisting of seven courses: ECO 101-102, ACC 201-202, MGT 101, MKT 201 and MAT 131 or MGT 340. There is also a minor in Business Management for non-business majors.

Resume Building

The Political Science department assists students in finding internships that allow them to gain valuable professional experience and contacts. Positions are available in Washington and Albany, as well as in Western New York with local government, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and the New York State Assembly and Senate.

The college’s many study abroad programs offer exciting opportunities to examine politics in other countries or pursue internships, such as with a Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons. Students may also take a limited number of their major electives while studying abroad.

Students may also participate in EuroSim, an international intercollegiate simulation of the European Union, attended by American and European delegations. In even-numbered years students engage in subsidized travel to Europe related to the simulation, and in odd-numbered years the event is held in the United States.

Opportunity for independent study under the guidance of a faculty member is available for juniors and seniors who wish to explore topics that go beyond the department’s normal course offerings. 


PSC 103 Constitutional Foundations of American Government   3 credits
Provides a thorough grounding in the U.S. Constitution, which is America’s founding document, and serves as the basis for its political system. (Field 5)Spring & Fall

PSC 104 American Political Process   3 credits
An introduction to American politics including political socialization, public opinion and ideologies, political participation in electoral systems and mass movements, political parties and interest groups. (Field 5) Spring & Fall

PSC 110 Western Political Tradition I          3 credits
Main outlines of history of Western political tradition from dawn of political consciousness to Machiavelli. (Field 4) Fall

PSC 111 Western Political Tradition II          3 credits
Development of Western political tradition from Machiavelli to present, emphasizing development of liberal, conservative and socialist traditions. (Field 4) Fall

PSC 140 International Relations            3 credits
Introduces paradigms of world politics. International security, political economy and globalization. Power politics and international organizations (Field 5) Spring & Fall

PSC 150 Comparative Government and Politics          3 credits
Comparative analysis of foreign countries. Governments, ideologies, parties, elections, political culture, civil society and democracy in industrialized and developing countries. (Field 5) Spring & Fall

PSC 210 American Political Humor           3 credits
History, significance and impact of humor on the political process. A wide ranging variety of humorous forms will be used including editorial cartoons, comic strips, radio broadcasts, television programs, movies and more. Fall 

PSC 215 National Issues and Public Policy          3 credits
Selected policy issues and their relationship to the political process including health care, homeland security, welfare and housing. Fall 

PSC 217 Research Methods           3 credits
Basic, non-statistical treatment of current techniques and methodologies which characterize political-science research. 

PSC 224 Congress and the Legislative Process          3 credits
Survey of Congressional procedures and practices. Emphasis on recent changes within Congress, and the position of Congress in the U.S. political and governmental system. Spring

PSC 225 U.S. Presidency           3 credits
Survey of the U.S. executive branch of government, including President, Vice President, White House staff, Executive office and the bureaucracy. Fall

CRJ 227 Criminal Justice I            3 credits
See CRJ 227 for course description. Fall

CRJ 228 Criminal Justice II           3 credits
See CRJ 228 for course description. Spring

PSC 233 Interest Groups and Public Opinion in America            3 credits
Development of the notions of opinion and interest, their transmission and their influence on decision-making. Fall

PSC 236 Political Campaigning            3 credits
Campaigning resources, techniques, strategies and goals. Practical and theoretical treatment. Field research. Spring

PSC 237 State and Local Politics           3 credits
The institutions and policies of state and local governments, with focus on New York State. State and local elections, gubernatorial politics, state legislatures, community politics. Spring

PSC 242 International Organizations    3 credits
International and transnational. Intergovernmental and non-governmental. Regional and global. Content areas: political, economic and humanitarian. Fall

PSC 244 War: Causes and Consequences     3 credits
Investigates the conditions, processes, and events which lead to the outbreak of war, and explores the political, strategic, and human consequences of wars. In-depth analysis of selected wars in history and in contemporary global politics. Spring

PSC 245 American Foreign Policy            3 credits
US diplomatic history since 1945. Structure, process and issues in contemporary American foreign relations. Fall

PSC 320 American Constitutional Law I          3 credits
Development of constitutional law in the U.S. from the founding of the Republic to present. Case-study method in selected areas of constitutional jurisprudence. Fall

PSC 321 American Constitutional Law II: Civil Liberties            3 credits
Role of modern and contemporary Supreme Court in controversial areas of civil liberties and related questions. Current interpretations of the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment. Spring

PSC 325 Elections and Voting Behavior          3 credits
The various types of elections and electoral procedures and their relationship to voter turnout and voter choice. Fall

PSC 334 Public Administration           3 credits
The Federal Bureaucracy: its relationship to the executive, and the public. Elements and issues of public-sector management. Prerequisite: PSC 103 or 104 or permission of instructor. Spring

PSC 335 Political Parties           3 credits
Development and present conditions of political parties. What they do and why they do it. Parties’ past and present roles, as well as their future prospects. Spring

PSC 336 Urban Government and Politics          3 credits
Structure, function, operation and politics of local government. Machine and reform models; power and participation. Significant policy issues to be addressed include schools, finances, land use, planning and crime. Fall

PSC 345 International Crime After 9/11          3 credits
Cross-border organized crime and responses, especially in North America and Europe. Emphasis on drug trafficking, terrorism and illegal immigration. Crime-fighting, counter-terrorism, border management and international police cooperation. Guest speakers and video. Prerequisites: PSC 140-150 or CRJ 227-228 or permission of instructor. Spring

PSC 346 National Security Council            3 credits
Role-play simulation of the National Security Council. Student “policymakers” conduct briefings, develop initiatives and debate policy positions and proposals concerning U.S. national security. Emphasizes strategic, ethical and moral dilemmas in foreign policy decision-making. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Fall

PSC 355 European Union           3 credits
History of European integration. Structure, process and politics of EU policies. Optional EuroSim: international, intercollegiate simulation of the EU and travel. Fall

PSC 359 International Political Economy          3 credits
Introduction to international politics in the global economy, focusing on the globalization of production, trade and finance; inequality and international development; and multinational corporations and international financial institutions. Spring

HIS 393 The Making of Modern Africa           3 credits
See HIS 393 for course description. Spring

HIS 394 Contemporary Middle East            3 credits
See HIS 394 for course description. Spring 

ECO 401 Public Finance           3 credits
See ECO 401for course description. Fall

PSC 400 Capstone           3 credits
Provide an integrative experience for senior majors. Students will complete a project/research paper in which they demonstrate a sense of public service and or leadership through the application of knowledge gained in the major. Additional topics and requirements vary by instructor. Applies only to class of 2013 and later graduating classes. Spring

PSC 401 Capstone            1 credit
Provides an integrative experience for senior majors (required for classes of 2011 and 2012 only). Allows students demonstrate their proficiency in the discipline and prepares them for post-graduate education or employment.Spring

PSC 436 Seminar in Presidential Campaigning and Advance Work  3 credits
Political advance work in the context of contemporary American presidential campaigns. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Fall

PSC 442 Seminar in International Relations          3 credits
Theoretically-informed perspectives on global affairs explored through selected topics and issues unified by a central theme, such as leaders and leadership in international politics. Prerequisite: International Relations majors or permission of instructor. Spring

PSC 455 Seminar in European Politics          3 credits
Contemporary issues in Eastern and Western Europe. Concepts and theories of comparative politics and European integration and governance.Prerequisites: PSC 140 and 150 or permission of instructor. Spring

PSC 498 Internship            3 credits
A variety of opportunities are available locally, as well as in Washington, D.C. and Albany. Internships arranged by faculty members in government, law offices and non-profit organizations. Prerequisite: Permission of chair of Political Science department. Spring & Fall

PSC 499 Independent Study           3 credits
Research and/or directed reading under direction of faculty members associated with the Political Science department.  Prerequisite: Permission of chair of the Political Science department. Spring & Fall