For Incoming & Premajor Students

Our major is divided into five Career Concentrations that channel our department's expansive research agendas and our interdisciplinary partners into helpful themes for students so that at graduation they are prepared to launch into their next stage.

As a political science major, you will have the chance to complete a curriculum of study in one of the top political science departments in the country. The introductory courses give students a broad, solid grounding in the discipline. In the more advanced courses, students interact and work closely with a diverse faculty engaged in cutting-edge research. Current faculty projects include, for example, the challenge of democratic transition, the persistence of inequality in democracies, and the impact of the media on voting behavior. In their junior and senior years, students pursue independent studies and senior research projects to hone critical skills. Beyond the campus, students can integrate internships and study abroad programs to gain real-world experience. Students who major in political science will think analytically about public affairs, and will emerge better prepared to make professional choices.

Recommended First-Year Courses

  • POLSCI 116      The American Political System
  • POLSCI 120D   Challenges of Living an Ethical Life
  • POLSCI 160D   Introduction to Security, Peace and Conflict
  • POLSCI 175D   Introduction to Political Philosophy
  • POLSCI 331      Prisoner's Dilemma and Distributive Justice

Focus Program

Duke's Focus Program for first-year students provides clusters of courses designed around an interdisciplinary theme. Topics for study include the cognitive sciences, ethics and global citizenship, genomics, knowledge in the service of society, global health, international politics, contemporary and medieval cultures, and social ideals. Focus faculty are leading researchers in their fields and come from academic departments within Arts & Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering.

Focus programs directed by faculty members in the Department of Political Science include “Visions of Freedom” (Professor Michael Gillespie) and “Modeling in the Economic and Social Sciences” (Professor Scott de Marchi).

Learn more about FOCUS

Internship Program

Political science majors have the opportunity to participate in our internship program. This program starts with POLSCI 279, which is a half-credit course offered in the fall that helps students develop their career goals, prepare for internship applications, and develop marketable skills. Students who have participated in POLSCI 279 will also have access to individual feedback from a career counselor on resume and cover-letter development. In addition, students who have taken POLSCI 279 and met with a career counselor will be able to meet with the internship placement staff at the Sanford School of Public Policy for recommendations on possible internship destinations.

Global Education

Approximately one third of our majors and minors participate in global education, fulfilling part of their political science coursework at universities around the world including in such countries as Argentina, Australia, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Learn More about Global Education Programs

Research Opportunities

We offer a wide range of research opportunities to our students, including independent study, an honors program, the Duke American Grand Strategy Fellows Program, the Ralph Bunch Summer Institute and others. Visit the undergraduate Honors, Independent Study and Programs pages.