Political Science


Jodi Dean teaching a Political Science class

The Political Science department offers courses in four subfields of political science: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political philosophy and theory. Focus is placed on factors that shape politics today like wealth and power, ethnicity and race, and gender and nationality, as well as developing the analytical skills necessary to succeed in education and life.

Political Science offers a disciplinary major, a B.A., and a disciplinary minor.


If you'd like to view a full listing of our course options in Political Science or any other subject, please visit the Online Course Catalogue.

Click for the Course Catalogue


Requirements for the Major (B.A.)

disciplinary, 10 courses

Two introductory courses from among POL 110, POL 140, POL 160, and POL 180; one course in each of the four subfields (the introductory courses count); a 300-level course, a seminar in the junior and senior years; and a group of four courses, one of which may be outside the department, that define a theme or focus and are approved by the adviser. Except for seminars, no more than four courses in any one subfield count toward the major.

Requirements for the Minor

disciplinary, 5 courses

Five political science courses in at least three separate subfields (American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory), three of which must be at the 200-level or higher.


Our students choose from a variety of introductory and advanced courses, each designed to provide students with an understanding of the important political questions that surround issues of power.

Below, you'll find a sampling of some of our most popular classes, as well as suggestions for making Political Science a part of your larger interdisciplinary experience at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

POL 325 American Presidency


Examine presidential powers from both historical and contemporary perspectives by learning how to asses presidential power not only in terms of whether the presidency has the necessary resources to pursue presidential objectives, but also in terms of the potential danger that presidential power poses to broader democratic commitments.

POL 248 Politics of Development


Discover how international mobility of capital and labor transforms both lives and politics in different ways and in different places. Once you've learned what globalization is and how it works, enroll in ENG 246, Globalism and Literature, and examine what it means to be a transnational subject.

POL 370 African American Political Thought


This course examines the political, economic, and social statuses of African Americans in American society, as depicted in the speeches and writings of distinguished African American thinkers, scholars and artists, from slavery to the present. It explores some fundamental tensions in African American thought that are manifest in diverse and seemingly contradictory solutions, such as accommodation vs. protest, emigration vs. assimilation, and separatism vs. integration.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.