UMKC Catalog


Bachelor of Arts: Political Science

The Political Science major is a part of the Liberal Arts curriculum. We provide the tools and information to enable students to critically evaluate their political and social environment. Political Science students should obtain an understanding of the workings of government and politics, and develop skills in critical thinking, analysis and communication.

We have divided the major into required sub-areas (American government, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory and philosophy). We have one optional sub-area, Internships and Overseas Study. Courses in this area will normally count as electives in Political Science, but at the discretion of the Political Science Adviser, they can count towards one of the required sub-areas. Each required sub-area has learning objectives. We also have an overall objective for research and the communication of that research.

Learning objective 1: Research and communication.

All graduating students should be able to:
•    Formulate a research question,
•    Identify appropriate sources and bibliography,
•    Write a well organized, well supported and thoughtful research paper   using appropriate methods to answer their research question, and
•    Make a short, interesting and clear oral report about their research.

Learning Objective 2: American Government.

Students in the American government sub-field should have a broad knowledge of major issues and debates in American politics, practice critical thought, be comfortable with analytic procedures, and be able to present and analyze arguments.
1. Majors will demonstrate a working knowledge of the American political system. This will include an understanding of the nation’s political institutions, political culture, and political ideologies.

2. Students will know understand and be able to discuss the public policy process, and possess a broad knowledge of the theory and methods used in the American politics subfield.
Students can take a wide variety of courses in this area, and few students will possess all of the skills/information taught. But they should be familiar with most of these objectives:
•    Understand America’s political culture, including ideologies, philosophy, traditions and practices.
•    Understand the American political system and how it differs in structure and function from systems in other countries.
•    Be familiar with the major theories and principles fundamental to American governments and understand the dynamics of the operation of those governments.
•    Understand American Political institutions (including federalism) and the manner in which they function.
•    Understand the important Constitutional arguments used by the Court.
•    Understand, specifically, the process of policy formation.

Learning objectives 3: Comparative Politics

Political science majors should have command of the vocabulary and analytic tools for analyzing government systems and domestic politics around the world. They should have the ability to categorize states according to the dominant typologies in the field, for example as strong or weak, as based on civic or ethnic nationalism, or as democratic or non-democratic.  Students should be able to analyze the basic characteristics of the regime and discuss the major institutions and processes, comparing and contrasting across systems. Finally, students should have knowledge of the key players and major public policy issues in selected countries, both Western and non-Western.   

Learning Objective 4: International Relations.

Political Science majors should become familiar with (1) the history of international politics; (2) major theories, concepts, and analytical approaches in the study of international relations; and (3) contemporary global and regional issues. In studying international history, students examine practices in the Western world and their spread.  Students should be able to discuss essential theories, concepts, and approaches including power, nationalism, levels of analysis, intellectual paradigms such as realism, and theories of international political economy. Examples of major issues are great power conflict, weapons of mass destruction; arms control and disarmament; internal warfare; terrorism; globalization; international law and organization; international economic relations; and international approaches to economic development.

Learning Objective 5: Political Philosophy and Theory.

Students who take a political theory class should become familiar with the types of analysis and normative structures that have been, or are being, used for political analysis. They should be familiar with the different theories, understand and be able to compare them, and be able to use these theories to understand current political issues.

The success of the program is measured by the large number of students who go to outstanding professional and graduate schools. Additionally, we use the Major Field Exam to evaluate our program. All students write a Senior Thesis in the Senior Seminar. That thesis is presented to the rest of the department and defended before them.


Degree Requirements

The department requirement for a major is 30 hours of political science. Only courses in which a grade of C- or better is earned will count towards the major. Additionally, a political science degree will be granted only to those who have achieved at least a 2.0 GPA in their approved departmental program.

Required Courses

Students must take the following political science courses:

At least 24 hours of political science coursework must be at the 300- to 400- level, and at least 12 hours must be earned at UMKC. Students transferring from other institutions should check as soon as possible to determine which of their credits will transfer as 300- to 400-level political science courses.

POL-SCI 210 and POL-SCI 220 should be taken as early as possible. Because there are optional ways for students to meet the remainder of the requirements for the major, students should meet with the department's undergraduate adviser to develop a program of study that suits their educational goals.

Political science majors are required to take at least one 300-400 level course in the first four of the following five subfields. Three additional (elective) courses may be taken in any subfield. Courses taken in the last subfield (Study Abroad Programs and Internships) normally will only count as elective credit, but may be counted as a required subfield course with the permission of the department adviser. Meet with the department's undergraduate adviser for more information.

American National Politics

Comparative Politics

International Relations

Political Theory

Study Abroad Programs and Internships

  • POL-SCI 491 Internship
  • POL-SCI 493 Study Abroad
  • Other courses specifically approved by the undergraduate adviser

Note: POL-SCI 497 and POL-SCI 498 will only satisfy subfield requirements when approved by the instructor and undergraduate adviser.