Political Science program

MUndergrad major mUndergrad minor

Study systems of governance and power.

People in our communities make decisions every day that impact our lives – from where to place a local traffic light to how to tackle climate change. If you want to dive into current events, impact public policy and make a difference, then political science may be the right field for you.

A political science degree will prepare you for a wide variety of careers in areas such as government, consulting, public policy, business, political communication and the non-profit sector. It also provides valuable background for citizenship and political action.

The UW-La Crosse Political Science program is dedicated to serving students and the wider community. Instructors challenge, mentor, advise and support students as they pursue internships, research projects, study abroad, and other experiential learning opportunities.

What is Political Science?

As a social science, political science is the systematic study of how politics ​— "who gets what, when, and how" — works. Students take courses in U.S. politics and policy, international relations (politics among countries)​​​, comparative politics (politics within countries)​​​​, and political theory. Political science challenges students to ask questions that address some of the most challenging issues of our times, including:

  • What is democracy?
  • Why are some countries democratic, but others are not?
  • How do different political institutions affect the lives of ordinary people?
  • Why do countries fight wars?
  • What causes terrorism?
  • Why can’t Democrats and Republicans in Congress cooperate?

Political science jobs

Many graduates choose career paths associated with the political science major. Other graduates choose unrelated careers that use skills and experiences developed during their time in college. Keep in mind that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The list below offers a few examples of possible career paths.

Political science careers

  • City manager
  • Campaign manager
  • Congressional or white house aide
  • Contract specialist
  • Educator
  • Election supervisor
  • Environmental activist
  • Foreign service officer
  • Government officer
  • Labor relations specialist
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Lawyer
  • Legislative assistant
  • Lobbyist
  • Paralegal or legal assistant
  • Peace corps officer
  • Policy staff assistant
  • Political consultant
  • Politician
  • Program evaluator
  • Public interest group director
  • Speech or technical writer
  • Urban/ regional planner

What distinguishes UWL's Political Science program

Commitment to community involvement

UWL's Department of Political Science and Public Administration places a high value on the Wisconsin Idea, which is the idea that the university's boundaries extend beyond the classroom. The department faculty and students are frequently engaging in outreach and developing projects and other connections that extend into the community.

Student organizations

Students interested in getting involved and exploring interests in political science, public administration, and legal studies, can choose from several department-affiliated student organizations. These include the Political Science and Public Administration Association, Pre-Law Society, College Republicans and College Democrats.

Ample opportunities to participate in undergraduate research

Students find many ways to conduct research within the department such as working jointly with a faculty member on a project, pursuing their own research opportunity, or engaging in original research as part of class. Because of UWL's size and the dedication of faculty in the department, many students are able to engage in research opportunities with faculty mentors.

Internships and study abroad

Students in the department engage in many hands-on methods to learn material such as study abroad and internships. The Political Science & Public Administration Department works closely with Career Services to help students find opportunities for internships and register for internship credit. Students find study abroad opportunities through International Education and Engagement.

Network connects student projects to civic leaders

The UWL Policy Research Network was created to help undergraduates conduct research and prepare reports for civic leaders. The goal of this network is to provide students with valuable, real-world experience and to strengthen ties with civic leaders.

Transferable skills

Political science offers great training for careers in politics, but it also offers foundational skills that can be applied to any career such as quantitative and qualitative analysis, advanced written communication, research methods and critical thinking.

Sample courses