Prepare to lead your fellow citizens toward a better future with a major in Political Science.
Explore your options — classes, internships, research and study abroad. Browse the Political Science Major Guide to find what interests you, discover what you love, and create a major experience that jumpstarts your future.
You’ll study how people obtain and use power at the local, state, national and international level. You may decide to become an attorney, a journalist, a campaign manager, a lobbyist or foreign service officer. Work for an elected representative — or run for office yourself one day. Your Political Science major will prepare you to make bold, strategic decisions grounded in your values.
Austin, the capital of Texas, is the ideal place to study politics at the local or state level. Understand how policy is made in the nation’s 11th-largest city by interning with a city council member or in the mayor’s office. Work for a state senator or representative during the biannual Texas legislative session, where you’ll learn how a bill becomes a law (or doesn’t). Austin is the home base for nonprofits and advocacy groups that work to shape state laws that affect children, the environment, and dozens of different industries – so you’ll also have the chance to learn how to lobby for a cause you care about.
If you have your sights set on the nation’s capital, your success coach and professors will help you find an internship in Washington, D.C. Wherever you go, you’ll have the critical-thinking, writing, public speaking and people skills you need to make a difference.
What do our graduates do?
Political Science majors go on to a variety of careers and graduate schools from St. Edward’s. Here’s a sample.
- Foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State
- Judicial law clerk at Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas
- Asylum and immigration attorney
- Health policy and advocacy director for Young Invincibles
- Director of marketing for FILA North America
- Law students at The University of Texas at Austin, the University of Pennsylvania and George Washington University
- Graduate students at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, Georgetown University and New York University
The Classroom and Beyond
Political Science teaches you the skills to change the world. At St. Edward’s, you’ll have the advantage of being just three miles from the Texas State Capitol building, where laws are made that influence the lives of 29 million Texans. Your internship opportunities will include working for state senators and representatives, policy thinktanks and advocacy groups, all of whom have a role in crafting legislation. Even without an internship at the Capitol, you can make your voice heard when the legislature meets – in the spring of odd-numbered years – by visiting elected officials’ offices and offering feedback on individual bills when they’re considered in committee. If local politics are more your speed, Austin City Hall is only two miles from campus and offers the chance to learn how a city council supports innovation and growth while striving for equity and protecting the environment.
Your courses will teach you the history and theory behind the political process and then immerse you in the practice. Legislative Process and Lobbying meets when the Texas legislature is in session. You’ll alternate between attending classroom lectures and discussions on campus, and sitting in on hearings, debates and programs at the Capitol.
State and Local Government uses the city of Austin as a lab. You’ll complete hands-on learning activities in and around City Hall in one of America's fastest growing cities.
One of the most exciting ventures that Political Science offers is the opportunity to assist with The Civics Lab, a podcast created with St. Edward's students. To listen to our podcasts, please visit The Civics Lab.
Scholarships, Conferences and Summer Institutes
Political Science majors have been selected for many competitive learning opportunities domestically and abroad. They include:
- The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the State Department, which offers grants to undergraduates to study or intern abroad in locations including Chile, Brazil and Morocco.
- The State Department Critical Language Scholarship, an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion designed to expand the number of Americans mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.
- The Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, a highly competitive seven-week program that trains students in the quantitative, analytical and communication skills they’ll need to study public policy in graduate school and enter a career that serves the public good.
- The highly selective Harvard Kennedy School Public Policy Leadership Conference, which introduces students to graduate programs in public policy at Harvard.
- The John Jay Fellows Program in Philadelphia, a semester-long leadership development program based on Christian principles that prepares participants for careers in public service.
- The St. Edward’s Criminal Justice Club is a chapter of the American Criminal Justice Association, Lambda Alpha Epsilon. The club meets twice a month to hear guest speakers, go on field trips, offer community service, and complete training together.
- Alpha Phi Sigma is the national criminal justice honor society.
- Phi Alpha Delta, the pre-law organization, meets weekly to listen to guest speakers, learn about the law school admission process, participate in mentorship programs, do service work and learn about internships. The club also has a mock trial team that competes in events hosted by the American Mock Trial Association and Phi Alpha Delta. The team has traveled to Washington, D.C., to compete.
- Student Government Association represents the ideas and needs of all St. Edward’s students.
- Students for Sustainability educates the St. Edward’s community about eco-friendly practices and works with the St. Edward’s administration to implement environmental initiatives. Members help maintain the campus garden, learn about biking and public transportation, encourage fellow students to reduce their use of plastic water bottles, and have clothing swaps and upcycled craft nights.
- Hilltop Views, the weekly student newspaper, is published both in print and online. Student journalists report news from the campus and greater Austin community. You can get involved as early as your freshman year as a writer, editor, photographer or designer.
- The S.E.R.V.E. program, coordinated by Campus Ministry, connects you with volunteer opportunities in Austin. You can participate in a Saturday-morning program where you clean up a park or paint a school building, or commit to weekly service for the whole semester at an organization helping immigrants, children or the elderly.
Major Requirements: The Bachelor of Arts in Political Science requires 45 hours of major courses, which include a combination of different political studies classes. In addition, students choose two of the following tracks: American Politics, Applied Politics, International Politics or Pre-Law.
Electives: Students complete 6 hours of Political Studies electives and 21 hours of elective courses in any area of study they choose.
General Education Requirements: The degree requires 54 hours of general education courses that students complete over four years in addition to their major courses and electives.
A few examples of courses students in this major take:
- Politics and the Media- explore how public officials, political campaigns, and interest groups attempt to influence media coverage
- Civil Liberties – examine the way the U.S. Constitution protects individual rights in the context of competing claims by various groups and interests
- Strategic Intelligence and Covert Action – delves into the role the intelligence community plays in American foreign relations
Every Political Science major completes at least one internship, but you’ll be encouraged to go beyond that requirement to expand your education. Students recently have interned with these organizations:
- No Labels, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that supports nonpartisan problem solving
- Office of Austin Mayor Steve Adler
- Office of U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett
- Office of State Rep. Oscar Longoria
- Office of former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
- Office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott
- Beto O’Rourke Senate Campaign
- Texas Public Policy Foundation
- Texas Senate Finance Committee
- Equal Justice Center, a nonprofit law firm
- Workers Defense Project
- Foley & Lardner LLP
- Generation Citizen, a nonprofit that teaches middle- and high-school students civic participation and engagement strategies
- Mighty Citizen, a local marketing agency focused on promoting community-impact organizations
- Annie’s List
- Caritas of Austin
- Texas Democratic Party
- Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington, D.C.
- Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization
- Make-A-Wish Central and South Texas
“I teach international politics simply because I have always been curious about the world around us. The topics I teach prompt students to think critically about such questions as why are some countries warlike and others peaceful? Why do some countries have democracies and others have dictatorships? And why do some countries enjoy great wealth and others suffer in poverty? I find that my students are engaged, questioning and enthusiastic about making a difference in the world.”
– Dr. William Nichols, Professor of Political Science
Political Science Minor
Students interested in pursuing a role in law or government can enhance their knowledge and skill sets with a Political Science minor. Students must complete the 18 hours of required coursework.
- American National Government
- International Relations
- Comparative Politics
- Any three upper-division Political Science courses
SEU to You
In the first part of Assistant Professor of Political Science David Thomason's course, students may be surprised at what they learn about American politics. In the second part, they will undertake an online simulated game. The semester will conclude with discussions on practical policy.