Political Science

Studying political science at Alvernia University opens your eyes and mind to the world around you. As our world becomes increasingly complex, understanding politics is crucial for being informed and involved citizens.

Political Science isn’t just for students who aspire to work in government. Those seeking careers in law, business, journalism, teaching, or non-profits benefit from understanding policy and politics. Indeed, the skills you acquire as a political science major at Alvernia will serve you well in nearly any career.

Political Science helps you understand the nature of politics, how politics relate to issues of justice, the role of government in societies, the responsibilities of citizenship and gives you an understanding of important international and domestic issues.  With a political science degree, you’ll also develop critical thinking skills, excellent writing skills, and deeper abilities to reason and think analytically about the world.

You’ll gain insight into contemporary problems and issues both in the United States and around the world, and learn how to assess the problems and creatively think about solutions to them.  You will also learn to communicate effectively, supporting your opinion with reason and evidence.


Why should you study political science at Alvernia University?
At Alvernia you get all the benefits of an outstanding university education in a smaller setting offering personal attention and unique opportunities that will benefit you as you move toward your career.

Small Class Size
Alvernia has an average 12:1 student-faculty ratio, with fewer than 20 students in most classes. This facilitates valuable, professional relationships among faculty members and students. In these small class settings, you will get individual attention you need to help you excel.

Faculty Who Care
Alvernia’s faculty members aren’t just experts in their field. They’re passionate teachers who are committed to student success. Faculty members become mentors and advisors, intent on helping you learn, develop your academic skills, and ultimately discern your path to a rewarding and successful career.

Research Opportunities
Political science stresses research as an integral component of the major and as an important skill for all students to learn. Political science majors must complete a capstone Research Seminar course, which includes research methods and writing a major research paper. There also may be opportunities for you to work with faculty members on research projects relating to their areas of concentration. Research and writing skills prepare students for success in their careers and in graduate school or law school.

Honors Program
Alvernia’s Honors Program is for students who are academically gifted and highly motivated. It is designed to allow students to work at their own pace, and it recognizes and encourages academic excellence in all academic fields. Honors students interact with one another in small classes, where they can exchange ideas and information across a wide range of disciplines and interests.

The Honors Program also offers co-curricular activities, service opportunities and intellectual and social support to encourage students to exceed their own expectations. Learn more about Alvernia’s Honors Programs at www.alvernia.edu/academics/honors.

Get Real
Experiential learning provides political science students with learning opportunities that enrich your educational experience and are highly valued by employers.

You’ll have opportunities for experiences such as internships, community service and campus events help you learn more about the real world and prepare for a productive and happy life.

Learn more about Alvernia’s Get Real program at www.alvernia.edu/getreal.

Study Abroad
Living and studying outside of the United States can change you in ways you can’t begin to envision. Students who study abroad typically gain confidence and have experiences that they never imagined when they made the decision to study abroad.

Learn more about Alvernia’s Study Abroad program at www.alvernia.edu/studyabroad.


With a degree in political science from Alvernia University, you will be poised for a variety of exciting careers. Some students pursue careers in government service in Washington, D.C. Others work in state government or run for office, work on campaigns, or work for elected officials on Capitol Hill.

Perhaps you’re interested in career in international relations, such as journalism, international business, foreign service, international aid, or defense analysis. If you’re adept with foreign languages, you might consider a career as an interpreter or policy analyst.

Political science majors at Alvernia have gone into careers in law, international business, government service at the federal and state levels, public policy, journalism, political activism, management, non-profit positions, teaching, social work, counseling, criminal investigation and policy analysis. Political science students excel in careers that require excellent communication and analytical skills and knowledge about the world.

Many political science graduates have chosen to continue their educations at graduate institutions, including Lehigh University, University of Pittsburgh, Villanova University, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Widener University, Marquette University, State University of New York, George Mason University, Suffolk University, and others.

For more information about Alvernia’s political science program contact the Admissions Office at 1-888-ALVERNIA or 610-796-8269 or admissions@alvernia.edu. For more information about the study of political science in general, including what types of jobs are available for graduates, go to the American Political Science Association at www.apsanet.org.


All Alvernia students must successfully complete a minimum of 123 semester credits to receive a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree, and political science majors must complete 30 credits in the major.

Required courses for political science majors are:

POS 101 Introduction to Political Science
POS 111 American Democratic Government
POS 212 Comparative Politics --‐OR--‐ POS 225 Contemporary World Affairs
POS 424 History of Political Thought
POS 425 Research Seminar

You also must take 5 elective courses in political science. Elective courses include those regularly in the catalog, such as Constitutional Law, the Presidency, or the Legislative Process, as well as a variety of special topics courses such as: Election 2016 Bootcamp, Media and Politics, Religion, War and Politics, Military History, and Utopian Societies. Political science majors are encouraged to earn between 3 and 12 credits for successfully completing one or more internships, which provide practical experience in the field.

Students who minor in political science are required to complete any 18 credits in political science, including up to 6 hours through an internship.

You can learn more about all courses offered by Alvernia University by viewing the 2015-2016 Academic Course Catalogue at http://www.alvernia.edu/academics/catalogs/Catalog_2015-16/index.html.

Your Real World Learning Experience
Alvernia believes that real world experience is extremely important, as it can improve your confidence and introduce you to professionals in your intended field of employment. That’s why all political science majors are encouraged to complete at least one internship. Your faculty advisor will help you determine an internship or internships that make sense for you and will help to advance your careers goals.

Many political science majors at Alvernia spend a semester at The Washington Center, an organization that offers residential academic programs and internships in the nation’s capitol. Internship placements in recent years have included the Department of Justice, nonprofit organizations addressing concerns including domestic violence, refugees, or environmental concerns, policy analysis organizations including terrorism analysis, Department of Interior, Congressional offices, and the White House.

In addition to the semester-long opportunities, political science majors have also participated in shorter seminars offered through the Washington Center. Alvernia political science students have attended programs in conjunction with the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and the Presidential Inauguration, and there are summer seminars available as well.

You can learn more about opportunities at the Washington Center www.alvernia.edu/about/ethics-and-leadership/washington.html. Also, you can find out more about real world learning at www.alvernia.edu/academics/experiential_learning.

Research Opportunities
Research is a valuable aspect of any education. Political Science classes typically include research requirements, and all political science majors must complete a research seminar course, which entails intensive study in research methodology and culminates in a major research paper.

Political science faculty at Alvernia have research expertise in a variety of complex topics, including the presidency, state and national elections, causes of war, terrorism, international law, religion and politics and international security.

As a political science major, there may be opportunity for you to assist in faculty research, and you will benefit from knowledge gained through faculty research. Students are encouraged to apply for summertime research opportunities through the university’s Student Undergraduate Research (SURF) program. Students also have opportunities to present their research to a broader audience at the Higher Education Council of Berks County’s Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference, held annually at one of the Berks County institutes of higher education.

The Honors Program
If you’re academically gifted and highly motivated, you can participate in Alvernia’s Undergraduate Honors Program. Honors students have opportunities to take courses dealing with unusual topics and participate in a variety of activities. The Honors Program is a great compliment to your political science major. You can learn more about the Honors Program and how to apply at www.alvernia.edu/academics/honors/index.html.

The Eight-Semester Plan
You can do it! It’s easy to stay on track to graduate in four years if you pay close attention to what classes you need and make sure to take them in a timely manner. Advisors will assist you in course selection and registration, but it’s your job to make sure that you meet all academic requirements and comply with University policies.

Start planning well in advance for an internship, study abroad or other off-campus experience, as you’ll need to assure that you will be able to complete all required coursework.

Study Abroad Programs
Your college years are the perfect time to broaden your horizons and participate in experiences that will change your life. In addition to the Washington semester, Alvernia offers terrific opportunities for students who want to spend time overseas during their college career.

Studying in a different country can be life changing. A semester abroad is a natural choice for many political science majors, especially those interested in comparative politics or international relations.

Alvernia’s Study Abroad Office works closely with students who want to spend one or more semesters in a different country. Students are able to study in Italy, Spain, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, England, Germany, Greece, Belgium, Austria, Morocco, Palestine and China.

You pay the regular Alvernia tuition while studying abroad, and continue to receive financial aid, if applicable. Credits earned count toward your Alvernia undergraduate degree.

If you’re interested in studying in another country you should start planning early, as you’ll need to start the application process about a year in advance.

You can get more information about these programs from the Study Abroad Office at www.alvernia.edu/studyabroad or by contacting studyabroad@alvernia.edu.

Year-by-Year Major Map


Think Globally

  • Explore opportunities for study abroad, alternative break trips, pilgrimage to Assisi, the Washington Center and service trips
  • Start at the Study Abroad Office or studyabroad@alvernia.edu

Take the Right Classes

  • Understand the SEARCH, University and Major requirements
  • If you are in the University’s Honors Program, talk with your advisor about how to meet those requirements
  • Be aware of which semester required courses are offered
  • Focus on getting good grades

Get Good Advice

  • Get to know the political science faculty and your advisor
  • Talk to your advisor or a political science faculty member about pursuing a double major or minor and how to tailor your curriculum to match your skills and interests
  • Visit the Educational Planning Center on the first floor of Bernardine Hall
  • Observe the roles of those in leadership positions
  • Form study groups

Real Life Learning

  • Explore opportunities for upcoming
  • Utilize skills acquired in First Year Experience

Make the Right Connections

  • Identify peers that support your academic goals
  • Get involved by joining the Political Science Club, working for The Alvernian, or getting involved with the Student Government Association. Or, join some of the many other student clubs and community organizations

Preparing for the Future

  • Develop a working resume
  • Assess strengths, weaknesses and interests
  • Begin the process of obtaining all required background checks and clearances


Think Globally

  • Review opportunities for study abroad and, if interested, start planning with the Study Abroad Office

Take the Right Classes

  • Make sure you’ve reviewed which semester required courses are available
  • Focus on getting good grades
  • Plan out your path to graduation, including courses required for a double major or minor
  • If your grades qualify you and you are not already in it, seek entrance in to the university’s Honors Program
  • If you are already in the Honors Program, take Honors courses to meet program requirements

Get Good Advice

  • Talk to political science faculty and your advisor about your career interests and how to identify opportunities that may enhance your chances of finding a job in that area
  • If in the Honors Program, talk to the Honors Director about planning your courses and thesis project
  • Start planning for internship opportunities
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center

Real Life Learning

  • Look into the Alternative Break program
  • Shadow in jobs that relate to your specific interests
  • Look for part-time or summer jobs that relate to your interests
  • Get familiar with the Educational Planning Center’s Internship data base

Make the Right Connections

  • Volunteer for community service
  • Stay involved in clubs and organizations
  • Talk to professors and get more information on the SURF program.
  • Form study groups

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Update working resume, make a professional profile on LinkedIn and starting to network here.
  • Assess strengths, weaknesses and interests
  • Complete the process of obtaining all required background checks and clearances


Take the Right Classes

  • Take classes that will challenge you academically, broaden your horizons, and compliment your political science major.
  • If in the Honors Program and planning to be away for a semester during your senior year, start your Honors thesis
  • Focus on getting good grades and improving GPA
  • Work with advisor to make sure you’re on track to graduate on time

Get Good Advice

  • Talk to faculty members about career goals, graduate school opportunities, or law school preparation.
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center
  • Get familiar with Vault.com, a career services library available on Educational Planning Center’s website

Real Life Learning

  • Look into the Alternative Break program
  • Shadow in jobs that related to your specific interest
  • Look for part-time or summer jobs that relate to your interests
  • Plan internship experiences at the Washington Center or elsewhere

Make the Right Connections

  • Secure a research mentor if you are interested in applying for summer research grant opportunities
  • Assume leadership roles on campus
  • Connect with alumni in your field

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Get feedback on your resume from the Educational Planning Center
  • Go to job fairs to practice interviewing and networking skills
  • Ask professors to serve as references for future jobs
  • Attend Career Planning opportunities such as job fairs and practice interviews
  • Look for opportunities to find mentors and career guidance
  • Discuss graduate school and law school options with advisors and begin preparing for entrance examinations


Think Globally

  • Look for service opportunities or opportunities to travel abroad

Take the Right Classes

  • Make sure you are on track for any required research or writing projects
  • If in the Honors Program, complete thesis requirement

Get Good Advice

  • Work closely with advisor to make sure you’re on track to graduate on time
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center
  • Talk to faculty members about career choices, and plans for graduate or law school
  • Ask for advice from professionals in your area of interest

Real Life Learning

  • Successfully complete your internship, as applicable
  • Participate in off-campus activities, such as volunteering with an Alvernia community partner

Make the Right Connections

  • Continue in leadership roles on campus
  • Connect with alumni in your field
  • Attend campus events at which alumni are present
  • Meet professionals who work in your area of interest

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Update your resume and LinkedIn profile
  • Search for jobs through Vault.com
  • Finalize recommendations
  • Attend Career Planning opportunities such as job fairs and practice interviews
  • Attend the Alvernia Job Fair

Alvernia is committed to serving the needs of its students. Whether you have questions or problems related to academics, life on campus, student activities, social activities or any other issue, there is someone available to help you. You can learn more about all student services at www.alvernia.edu/student-life/student-services.

Educational Planning Center
The Educational Planning Center offers advice and support to help you with any problems or issues related to your Alvernia education. It also assists with career exploration and preparation. The office is open every day and can be contacted at 610-796-8266.

Career Services
Staff members at the Career Development office will help you with any questions you have about exploring or planning careers. They also will guide you about how to look for and apply to jobs as you get closer to graduation. The office also has a career resources library. You can learn more about career services at www.alvernia.edu/student-life/career-services, or by emailing career.services@alvernia.edu.

Financial Aid
The Financial Aid office is the place to contact with any questions you have about the cost of an Alvernia education and options for paying for it. Nearly all undergraduates at Alvernia get some type of financial aid, and everyone is encouraged to apply for it. You can learn more at www.alvernia.edu/financialaid/index.html or by emailing financialaid@alvernia.edu.

Admissions Office
If you’re interested in applying to the political science program at Alvernia, contact the Admissions Office at 610-796-3011 or at http://www.alvernia.edu/admissions/.

Faculty Members
Alvernia’s political science program features dedicated, highly qualified professors who are passionate about teaching and are excited to share their knowledge and expertise with students. They are committed to enhancing the student’s learning experience, and serve as mentors and advisors to their students.

You can learn more about Alvernia’s political science professors and their research and teaching interests at http://alvernia.edu/academics/arts-and-sciences/humanities/political-science/faculty/index.html.


There is so much more to college than classes, and political science majors at Alvernia have some excellent opportunities to get involved in activities that are both enjoyable and provide beneficial experiences. Students who engage in extra-curricular activities benefit both academically and socially, and open themselves to life lessons beyond the classroom.

At Alvernia, you’ll be encouraged to participate in a range of activities, including rewarding and inspiring service projects, off-campus trips, and social and educational experiences on campus. Some organizations and activities you might enjoy include:

  • The Political Science Club encourages students to expand their knowledge and participation in politics at the local, state and national levels. In addition to on-campus programming like debates, voter registration drives, and speakers, the club has attended model United Nations competitions, mock trial events, and has taken trips to the United Nations and Washington, D.C. Membership is open to any Alvernia student who is interested in politics and political issues.
  • If you are interested in writing, editing, design, photography and/or marketing, you’re encouraged to get involved with The Alvernian, the university’s student newspaper. Editorial positions are available for qualified participants.
  • You can learn more about Alvernia’s Student Government Association, becoming a Student Ambassador, joining the Residence Hall Association, student trips and other activities at www.alvernia.edu/student-life/activities.
  • The Holleran Center for Community Engagement serves as a bridge between the University and the community. The Center partners with a variety of organizations to provide Alvernia students with opportunities to serve. You can read more about volunteer opportunities at http://alvernia.edu/about/holleran-center.

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