Political Science

Image of the US Capitol Building

Political Science is focused on the analysis of the power relationships and decision-making patterns that shape and determine the outcomes of vital social, economic and policy issues. Therefore, much of political science involves the study of government, the arena in which public issues are raised and resolved.

The Political Science program (POLS) provides its students with three kinds of knowledge: 1) a basic factual knowledge of American government and politics, the politics of other countries, international relations and organizations, and normative political values and ideologies; 2) a capacity for personal political analysis, which includes the ability to define personal goals and to understand political behavior sufficiently to select appropriate means for achieving these goals; and 3) a capacity for conducting original and systematic political research.

In addition to these specific areas of knowledge, the Political Science program is committed to constant reinforcement of broadly transferable skills (Stockton’s Essential Learning Outcomes) such as critical thinking, writing and other communication skills, information literacy and research skills, quantitative reasoning, and ethical reasoning.

Program Coordinator:

Michael Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Political Science

Curriculum Worksheets

Alan Arcuri's "The "X" Factor: Persistence, Motivation, and Enthusiasm"


Program Organization

The strength of the Political Science program at Stockton lies in the theoretical and empirical study of American government and politics. The program also offers a broad selection of courses in political theory, comparative politics and international relations. Moreover, there are opportunities to investigate the politics of specific geographical areas and of specific topics. Students work with a preceptor to define a series of courses within the Political Science/cognate or at-some-distance categories of their curriculum that reflect their special academic interests and enhance their career preparation. Course work is offered in a variety of formats: lecture, seminar and tutorial. Independent studies are encouraged for students who wish to pursue particular topics, themes or problems in greater depth than would normally be available through general course offerings. Visit our Facebook page.

General Political Science
POLS 1100 Introduction to Politics
POLS 3150 Political to Methodology*
POLS 4695 Senior Seminar*

American Politics
POLS 2100 Introduction to American Politics*
POLS 2211 Law and Legislative Process
POLS 2222 President and Congress
POLS 3235 American Political Behavior and Representation
POLS 3260 Interest Group Politics
POLS 3616 Political Parties
POLS 3625 Campaigns and Elections

Public Administration and Policy
POLS 2180 Introduction to Public Administration
POLS 2190 Introduction to Public Policy
POLS 2209 State and Local Government
POLS 2217 Careers in Public Service
POLS 2245 Race and Politics
POLS 3300/SUST 3300 Environmental Policy and Law
POLS 3345 Politics of Immigration
POLS 3265 Governing New Jersey

Political Behavior and Analysis
POLS 3150 Political Methodology*
POLS 3235 American Political Behavior and Representation
POLS 3616 Political Parties
POLS 3625 Campaigns and Elections

Political Theory
POLS 2140 Introduction to Political Theory
POLS 3641 Modern Political Theory
POLS 3644 Classical Political Theory
POLS 3648 Topics in Political Theory
POLS 3675 American Political Thought

International Relations and Comparative Politics
POLS 2160 Introduction to Comparative Politics
POLS 2170 Introduction to International Politics
POLS 2274 U.S. Foreign Policy
POLS 2276 UN Experience (Model UN)
POLS 2360 Comparative Politics of Human Rights
POLS 3313 International Order
POLS 3660 Comparative Politics Seminar
POLS 3645 Politics of Transitional Societies
POLS 3662 International Political Economy

POLS 2215 Law School Basics
POLS 3221 Constitutional Law
POLS 3225 Civil Liberties
POLS 3300/SUST 3300 Environmental Policy and Law
POLS 3621 Advanced Constitutional Litigation
POLS 3612 Women and the Law
POLS 3652 Gender and Political Action
POLS 4695 Senior Seminar: The Supreme Court*

POLS 3900 Political Science State/Local Internship
POLS 3910 Internship in Public Service
WASH 3620 Washington Seminar
WASH 3940 Washington Internship

Senior Capstone
POLS 4695 Senior Seminar*
POLS 4695 Senior Seminar: The Supreme Court*

*All Political Science majors are required to take POLS 2100 Introduction to American Politics, POLS 3150 Political Methodology and POLS 4695 Senior Seminar. Political Science majors must take POLS 2100 Introduction to American Politics before they earn 76 credits. POLS 3150 Political Methodology is a prerequisite to POLS 4695 Senior Seminar and must be taken before students earn 95 credits. The Political Science Senior Seminar (POLS 4695) may only be taken by students in their last semester in residence at Stockton; students must have completed POLS 3150 Political Methodology with a passing grade or, alternatively, must be enrolled in POLS 3150 Political Methodology at the time of registration for Senior Seminar and must subsequently complete it with a passing grade. Students who wish to take Senior Seminar prior to their last semester in residence at Stockton may request permission from the Political Science program to do so provided they will have completed a minimum of seven Political Science courses (including POLS 3150 Political Methodology and POLS 2100 Introduction to American Politics) before the start of Senior Seminar. Requests must be submitted in writing to the program coordinator prior to registering for Senior Seminar.

To receive a B.A. degree in Political Science, a student is required to complete a minimum of 40 credits (10 courses) in Political Science and 24 credits (six courses) in cognate areas, which include historical studies, criminal justice, economics, anthropology, psychology, social work, sociology, gerontology, public law, philosophy (only PHIL1203 and PHIL1204) or additional political science courses.

Each student is encouragedto take at least four of the core courses (2100 series) representing the major areas within political science: political theory, American government, international relations, comparative politics, and public administration. After a student has identified individual interests, s/he is advised to take the more specialized upper-level courses appropriate to individual goals. Students should choose a variety of course formats (lecture, seminar, independent study) and should consider doing an internship.  . No more than 12 credits earned in internships may be applied to the total number of credits required for the Political Science major and cognates.

Students are also strongly encouraged to receive training in a foreign language and statistical analysis. Students interested in going on to graduate school are advised to take language training and advanced training in statistical analysis or other methodology. Students are strongly encouraged to take POLS 1100 Introduction to Politics; Political Science majors taking this course must do so before they earn 76 credits. Other specific course requirements are listed above in the Curriculum Overview.

To ensure that the interests and goals of each student are pursued through a coherent selection of courses, each Political Science major is assigned a preceptor from the program faculty. Together the student and his/her preceptor develop a sequence of courses tailored to the academic aspirations of the student within the parameters of the discipline. In addition, all POLS majors and minors are enrolled in a Blackboard advising section where we provide specific information and resources for how to succeed at Stockton along with information about possible career paths for POLS graduates.

This concentration is designed for students who plan to attend law school. Stockton’s Political Science graduates have had extraordinary success in gaining admission to law school by taking advantage of a rich array of legal studies courses that both help them get into law school and prepare them for success once they are there. Courses in this concentration provide instruction in substantive areas of law and enhance students’ skills in analytical and critical thinking, legal reasoning, writing, and comprehending judicial opinions. The concentration is also valuable to students interested in paralegal careers.

Students seeking certification in the pre-law concentration must consult with their program preceptor once each semester and obtain approval of selected courses. To obtain the pre-law certification, students must take at least seven of the courses listed below. Among these courses, five have been designated core courses, and students must take at least three of these courses. Students may select the remaining four courses from the list of recommended courses or take additional core courses.

Core Courses

  • POLS 2215 Law School Basics
  • POLS 3221 Constitutional Law
  • POLS 3225 Civil Liberties
  • POLS 3621 Advanced Constitutional Litigation
  • POLS 4695 Senior Seminar: The Supreme Court


  • PHIL 1204 Symbolic Logic
  • PLAW 2120 Business Law I
  • PLAW 3110 The Legal, Social and Ethical Environment of Business
  • PLAW 3630 Health Law and Policy
  • POLS 2100 Introduction to American Politics
  • POLS 2180 Introduction to Public Administration
  • POLS 2190 Introduction to Public Policy
  • POLS 3612 Women and the Law
  • POLS 3652 Gender and Political Action
  • POLS 3300/SUST 3300 Environmental Policy and Law
  • POLS 3900 Political Science State/Local Internship*
  • POLS 4800 Independent Study (Law or the Judiciary)
  • POLS 3313 International Order
  • WASH 3940 Washington Internship*

*Internships: With preceptor approval, state/local internships or Washington internships that provide direct experience in law or the judiciary may satisfy one of the required courses for the pre-law concentration.

In addition to meeting the course requirements described above, students are also strongly encouraged to meet regularly with Professor Linda Wharton, the Pre-Law Advisor, and attend workshops offered by the Political Science program each semester on the law school admissions process. Visit the pre-law Facebook page.

Photo of world passports

This new concentration in POLS in International Affairs will provide POLS students interested in careers in foreign affairs to pursue a clear academic path within the POLS program.


To obtain the international affairs concentration, students must take at least six of the courses listed below. Two have been designated as required courses. Then, students must take three core courses and one additional core or recommended course. This is a total of six courses or 24 credits. Note: the POLS Pre-Law Concentration requires seven courses including Introduction to American Politics, a requirement for all POLS majors. As this concentration does not include Introduction to American Politics, we subtracted one course to allow POLS students the same level of flexibility with this concentration that they have with our existing concentration in pre-law.

Mandatory Courses for New Concentration (requires of 2 courses or 8 credits):

  • POLS 2170 Introduction to International Relations - International/multicultural course (I), Q2 course.
  • POLS 2160 Introduction to Comparative Politics- International/multicultural course (I).

Additional Core Courses for New Concentration (a minimum of 3 courses or 12 credits and up to 4 courses or 16 credits):

  • POLS 2140 Introduction to Political Theory- Values/Ethics course (V).
  • POLS 2274 US Foreign Policy 
  • POLS 2276 UN Experience
  • POLS 3221 Constitutional Law - W2
  • POLS 3315 Politics of Immigration
  • POLS 3313 International Order - W2 
  • POLS 3662 International Political Economy 
  • POLS 2XXX Comparative Politics of Human Rights
  • POLS 3XXX Politics of Transitional Societies
  • POLS 3800 or 4800 by permission only - These are Independent Study courses and accepted topics would include “Advanced U.S. Foreign Policy”; “Post-2015 Economic Development”; and others by consensus of the program faculty.

Recommended Courses for New Concentration (option of 1 course or 4 credits if you take only 3 core courses):

  • PHIL 1203 Critical Thinking
  • SUST 2701 International Sustainable Development (international study tour)
  • ECON 1200 Macroeconomics
  • ECON 3636 Political Economy (ECON 1200 is a prerequisite)
  • ECON 3655 International Trade (ECON 1200 & ECON 1400 are prerequisites)
  • ECON 3670 International Economic Development (ECON 1200 & ECON 1400 are prerequisites)
  • ECON 3675 International Money and Finance (ECON 1200 & ECON 1400 are prerequisites)
  • MGMT 3113 International Business Management (MGMT 2110 is a prerequisite)
  • HIST 1124 Fractures in World History
  • PHIL 2112 Ethics: Theory And Practice
  • GNM 2438 The Science of Decision Making
  • GNM 2475 Global Environmental Issues
  • GSS 1236 Go Global!
  • GSS 2606 Introduction to Global Studies (Global Studies Minor introductory course)
  • GSS 2635 UN Experience (international study tour)
  • GSS 2368 The Global Community (Honors)
  • GIS 4663 Data Visualization and Narratives
  • GIS 4658 Global Challenges and Solutions (Global Studies Minor capstone)

Language and History courses are strongly encouraged to compliment your specific area(s) of interest in the world; while not required for the concentration, below is a list of paths that you can pursue to fulfill at-some-distance credits:

HIST: Latin-America, Europe, America, Atlantic History, India, China, Japan, Mediterranean/Ancient, Indian Ocean/Asian, European

Please note: additional “optional” courses will be considered, as this concentration is designed to compliment your area of interest. A good place to identify these courses is to review Stockton’s complete list of academic programs here. As Stockton grows, we hope the courses that can be included in this concentration can be further expanded.

Admissions Criteria: Candidates with a POLS major will automatically be able to select this concentration and work towards completing the courses listed above. POLS does not have a minimum grade for successful completion of these courses.

A degree in Political Science can provide excellent preparation for a career in teaching. This concentration helps prepare students for this career, with a particular focus on social studies education. Students seeking teacher certification must meet both the requirements for graduation in Political Science and the state requirements for teacher certification.

Since several of the State requirements can be met by the same courses that are required for the Political Science major, it is highly recommended that students meet regularly with their program preceptor as well as their Education preceptor to maximize strategic course selection. Political Science faculty are familiar with the content knowledge requirements of the Praxis teacher licensure and certification exam, and much of the skills and knowledge requirements of this exam are incorporated into the Political Science curriculum.

This concentration defines a designated set of options in Political Science and other courses that can help students meet both sets of requirements. Students interested in pursuing teaching certification should regularly consult, their assigned Education preceptor, the School of Education staff and/or the Bulletin site for the most up-to-date curriculum information to meet state requirements. Political Science requirements may be modified to allow students to meet state requirements in the most efficient manner. Concentration requirements can change frequently, as state requirements and the related requirements of the School of Education are altered. Current state requirements for social studies teacher certification include 30 credits of study in the area of social studies, including 12 credits at the 3000/4000 level and 15 HIST credits (at least 1 American and 1 World History course). Students pursuing the concentration in Social Studies Education are strongly encouraged to consider the following core courses to satisfy these requirements:

Political Science*
POLS 1100 Introduction to Politics
POLS 2100 Introduction to American Politics
POLS 2140 Introduction to Political Theory
POLS 2190 Introduction to Public Policy
POLS 2222 President and Congress
POLS 2245 Race and Politics
POLS 2335 Civics: Citizen Education
POLS 3221 Constitutional Law
POLS 3222 Civil Liberties
POLS 3612 Women and the Law
POLS 3625 Campaigns and Elections
POLS 3641 Modern Political Theory
*A minimum of two courses at the 3000/4000 level needed to meet teacher certification requirements.

ECON 1200 Introduction to Macroeconomics
ECON 3636 Political Economy
POLS 3662 International Political Economy
Or alternate course with approval of preceptor

U.S. History*
HIST 1152 Introduction to U.S. History to 1865
HIST 1153 Introduction to U.S. History Since 1865
HIST 2152 North American History to 1789
HIST 2153 U.S. History 1789-1865
HIST 2162 U.S. History 1865-1920
HIST 2163 U.S. History Since 1920
HIST 2331 African-American History Since 1865
*A minimum of one required for certification

World History*
Early Western or European History
HIST 1310 History of Early Christianity
HIST 2116 Ancient Mediterranean History
HIST 2120 Europe: 1400 to 1815
HIST 2121 Europe: 1815 to the Present

Modern Western or European History
HIST 2117 Modern Germany
HIST 2118 Europe in the Twentieth Century
HIST 2122 Modern Britain: 1688 to Present
HIST 2135 Modern Russian and Soviet History

African, Asian, or Latin American History
HIST 1160 Latin American History Political Development
HIST 1161 Latin American Social History
HIST 1170 Asian History
HIST 2106 Modern Middle East History
HIST 2128 Atlantic History
HIST 2140 History of India
HIST 2146 Indian Ocean History
A minimum of one required for certification

POLS 2160 Comparative Politics
ENVL 2100 Physical Geography
GIS 3625 Global Geography
Or alternate course with approval of preceptor

Educational Psychology
PSYC 3391 Educational Psychology

And choose one of the following:
PSYC 3322 Lifespan Psychology
PSYC 3323 Developmental Psychology: Childhood and Adolescence

For students in other majors who desire a background in government and politics, the program offers a minor in Political Science. It consists of a minimum of three courses at the introductory level: POLS 1100, POLS 2100, POLS 2140, POLS 2160, POLS 2170, POLS 2180 or other approved introductory level Political Science courses. These courses comprise a basic core that will introduce the student to the ideas and language of political science. In addition, two upper-level courses (3000 level or above) must be completed. These courses allow the student to pursue in more depth material that has been learned in the introductory courses or to apply it in a work setting. A selected 2000-level course may be substituted for a 3000-level course upon approval by the program coordinator.

No more than one four-credit internship may be counted for the minor. Students interested in a minor should meet with any member of the POLS faculty to work out a coherent program tailored to their needs and interests.

Opportunities & Careers

The Political Science program offers numerous special opportunities to enrich classroom-based learning. All students are encouraged to take advantage of one or more of the following:

Internships provide practical knowledge of government and politics and the personal contacts that may result in employment after graduation. State and Local Internships: State and local internships are those with a local public prosecutor’s or defender’s office, a non-profit organization, an advocacy group, the local staff of a State Senator, Assemblyman or Assemblywoman; or any number of politically active organizations. Students interested in arranging a state or local internship or who have already secured an internship and would like to receive POLS credits, should contact Dr. Michael Rodriguez, who coordinates these placements. The Washington Internship Program: The Washington Internship Program is an extraordinary opportunity to spend an entire academic term in Washington, DC, working in a variety of settings and completing an entire semester’s worth of credit. Participants in the program work in a variety of governmental and political settings. Students interested in this program should contact Dr. Michael Rodriguez as early as possible.

International Study Opportunities
Students interested in comparative politics and/or international relations are encouraged to spend a semester studying abroad and/or participate in a Stockton faculty-led study tour. Students may study in dozens of countries around the world and have the course work count toward their Political Science degree. The University also offers many opportunities for short-term stays abroad through faculty-led study tours connected to a variety of courses. The Model UN International Travel Team is a competitive program open to all students with travel abroad each fall semester.

William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy
Although not based in the Political Science Program, the Hughes Center provides students with opportunities to be engaged in applied research and to participate in an annual cycle of events that bring speakers to campus. The Hughes Center also sponsors a Legislator-in-Residence program that gives students the opportunity to interact with members of State government from both parties.

The American Democracy Project and Political Engagement Project
These University-wide initiatives are connected with national projects co-sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the New York Times, and participating campuses. University faculty participating in these projects foster civic and political engagement of students through a variety of types of programming, including Constitution Day, field trips, speakers, and alumni presentations. As a result of its excellence in these programs and others, the University has been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as meeting the standards for being designated as a “Community Engaged Institution.”

Student Organizations
The Political Science program supports and provides advisory assistance to  a wide range of additional student clubs and organizations. These currently include Stockton Republicans and Stockton Democrats, the Women’s Rights Coalition, Model United Nations (on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), the Mock Trial Team and others.

Pi Sigma Alpha
Stockton’s chapter of the Pi Sigma Alpha honor society (Alpha Zeta Rho) is open to students who have completed four POLS courses (3 introductory and 1 upper-division) and have a minimum B average in their POLS courses. Membership in the chapter includes the option of commencement regalia (honor cord/medallion), scholarships for Washington Internships, competitions for chapter activity grants and student papers, participation in the honor society’s national student conference, consideration for higher entry-level positions in federal employment than nonmember applicants, the Pi Sigma Alpha Newsletter, and the Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics. Please contact the chapter adviser, Dr. Michael Rodriguez, for additional information.

The Political Science program has a commitment to helping students define and plan a career. Political Science preceptors provide students with information on employment opportunities in areas of interest to them and on the best educational preparation for employment in those areas. Our Blackboard advising section for all POLS majors and minors also provides specific resources for career preparation. The program encourages students to develop clusters of courses designed to provide a secondary area of expertise using the cognate and at-some-distance portions of their degree requirements (these special clusters can involve career preparation, skills development or special interests). Internship programs within Political Science provide opportunities for students to gain real-life experience in areas of career interest, and the program offers three concentrations for students interested in these fields.

The Political Science program regularly offers focused conversations with faculty and program alumni on career fields and professional preparation. At these events, alumni offer practical insights based on their experiences in law, government, journalism, international affairs, public service and the academic world. The POLS program also has an annual Political Science Orientation which takes place in the fall semester. The orientation introduces students to the Political Science major, potential career opportunities, and strategies for success at Stockton and following graduation.