engaging with power

Understand the important factors that shape politics by majoring or minoring in Hobart and William Smith's Department of Politics. You'll gain knowledge on a range of theoretical perspectives and epistemological methods to be an engaged, critical, and active participant in governmental and societal operations. You’ll have the opportunity to conduct independent academic research and learn to write clearly about significant political trends and events.  

The program covers a wide range of topics, theories and histories in three subfields: foundations, law and government and power and movements.

You’ll graduate with a strong understanding of the political landscape, contemporary issues and the elements behind them.  


Student SpotlightTanner Tattan '24

majors: political science, American Studies  

"The Politics Department curriculum has equipped me with the theoretical and practical knowledge I need to conduct rigorous research in my academic pursuits while also serving me well in internship opportunities. The three constitutional law courses with Professor of Politics Paul Passavant — Constitutional Law, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties — furthered my interest in pursuing a legal career and I aspire to attend law school soon after graduation. Outside of the classroom, I have had the opportunity to work on two political campaigns, including that of HWS Trustee and New York State Senator Jeremy Cooney '04. Opportunities for career exploration and forging my path through the major would not have been possible without the careful guidance and mentorship from the Politics faculty."


Dewayne Lucas

And Research

Politics students looking to engage more in their work can study and complete Honors and research projects in their chosen topic with the guidance of a faculty mentor. 

Past examples of Honors projects include:

  • Brendon Lowe Bennett '23: Institutionalism and Societal Security
    Edward Quish, Adviser 
  • Robert Anthony Russell ’22: How Buffalo’s Catholics Came to Embrace the Political Right
    Edward Quish, Adviser  
  • Isaac Mathew DuBois ’19: Hauntology, Depressed Subjectivity, and the Politics of Hope
    Paul Passavant, Adviser  
  • Elizabeth I. Dieter ’18: Control, Negation, Surveillance: Control Societies, Afro-Pessimism, and #BlackLivesMatter
    Paul Passavant, Adviser 

Pi Sigma Alpha

Politics students who excel in their courses are eligible to be inducted into Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society.

Students inducted in the spring of their junior year must have a 3.7 grade point average, while the GPA for senior inductees is 3.5. National rules require that inducted students have had six political science classes.  


Experiential EducationLife Changing Opportunities

Experience what careers in Washington, D.C. are like during the Day on the Hill Trip or attend lectures hosted by the Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice about how policy changes affect marginalized communities. 

At Hobart and William Smith, learning goes beyond textbooks and classrooms. You’ll gain high-impact practical experience that deepens learning and opens doors. 



Amplify your Politics degree with the skills, knowledge and ethical foundation needed to be a leader in the 21st century. In partnership with the Centennial Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, our department offers the opportunity to engage in leadership development that culminates in a degree with leadership distinction and provides a competitive edge when applying to internships, jobs and graduate or professional school.

To graduate with leadership distinction, you will complete a series of foundational, action-oriented and reflective milestones within the Politics and Leadership curriculum. We encourage you to begin your leadership journey as early as your second semester on campus.


No Borders:Global Education

Explore the cultural and political ideas and thoughts that shape governments throughout the European Union or examine political movements in the Middle East and Africa.

Wherever you go, our top-ranked global education program will allow you to apply classroom knowledge, develop cultural understanding and build global connections that expand your personal capacity and sense of purpose. 



Learn the foundations behind politics and how they impact all facets of life.  

POL 324 – American Congress

Examine the cultural and institutional factors that influence the actions of members of Congress and the (in)ability of the legislative branch to effectively represent the nation.

POL 207 – Governing through Crime

Engage in a critical inquiry into the values and weaknesses of the law as a mechanism for seeking social and political justice.  

POL 289 – Theories of American Democracy

Explore how particular narratives and myths have structured an American national ways and balanced the collective goods of society with individual freedoms, obligations to citizenship and charity.


Alum ImpactBuilding through theLiberal Arts

charlotte peterson '22 
litigation paralegal at Cravath, Swaine & Moore

"My time at the Colleges helped me cultivate my critical thinking, research and writing skills across several disciplines and contexts."



companies that employ our graduates

  • AmeriCorps
  • Amnesty International
  • Chemonics International
  • Committee on Natural Resources 
  • Cravath, Swaine & Moore 
  • eBay
  • Flamboyan Foundation
  • Freedom Partners Shared Services
  • McAdam Financial 
  • Northeastern University 
  • PeaceCorps
  • Perkiomen School 
  • Putnam Investments 
  • Texas Public Policy Foundation
  • The Daily Caller News Foundation
  • The Hawthorn Group, L.C.
  • The White House
  • United Nations Foundation
  • United States Senate

Universities where our graduates are studying

  • Albany Law School 
  • American University 
  • Baylor Law School
  • Boston College School of Law
  • Brooklyn Law School
  • Canisius College 
  • Carnegie Mellon University 
  • Clemson University 
  • Cornell Law School
  • Duquesne University School of Law 
  • Emory University School of Law
  • Fordham Law School
  • George Washington University 
  • Liberty University 
  • Northeastern University School of Law
  • Nova Southeastern University 
  • Ohio State University 
  • Quinnipiac School of Law 
  • Suffolk University Law School
  • UCLA 
  • University of Maryland