Why Choose EIU?
Diverse Study Options
We offer an excellent range of program choices. Students may select the general B.A. in Political Science, which features wide coverage of politics, government and public policy — from the introductory American Government and International Relations courses on through a mix of upper division courses on intriguing subjects such as the American Presidency, Latin American Politics, International Political Economy, Civil Liberties, Environmental Politics and Policy and African American Political Thought.
Students who are especially interested in the international arena often decide to work toward the B.A. in Political Science with the International Studies option. While focusing on courses in comparative politics and international relations, majors in this option also complete related coursework in Economics, History and foreign languages. This breadth of study ensures that students are equipped to understanding the complexity of the global setting of politics and governance.
While the above two degree paths are the most common ones for our majors, students have other equally compelling choices, specifically:
- The B.A. in Political Science with a Concentration in Public Administration, if you plan on a career in government administration or program management.
- The Political Science Departmental Honors Program, if you have a strong research orientation coupled with an interest in writing an undergraduate thesis.
- The Political Science Designation in the Social Science Teaching Major, if your career goal is teaching at the secondary school level.
Majoring in Political Science at EIU also provides you with the flexibility to study other subjects to help achieve your academic, professional and career preparation goals. In a rapidly changing and sometimes uncertain economy, it is important to broaden your knowledge and analytical skill bases. Most of our majors declare at least one minor — from Pre-Law or Criminology on through a wide variety of other possibilities (e.g., Business Administration, Economics, Women's Studies and Environmental Studies), and some Political Science majors even pursue a double-major (e.g., Political Science along with Journalism or Foreign Languages).
When our majors make important choices such as these, EIU Political Science professors are fully committed to working closely with their students — from academic advising on through the department's newly established Undergraduate Mentoring Program. We also go out of our way as a department to encourage and recognize student excellence in their academic pursuits, particularly through the annual Political Science Student Awards and Recognition Banquet held each April.
Pi Sigma Alpha
Pi Sigma Alpha inductees at the 2014 PLS Student Awards and Recognition Banquet
Government Simulations and Internships
Outstanding EIU Model Illinois Government Delegate
Desiree Dussard (right) being presented with the 2014 Outstanding EIU Model Illinois Government Delegate Award by graduate student Kayla Samuelson.
Applied learning is an integral part of majoring in Political Science at EIU, and two important vehicles for this are the department's simulations and internship programs. In Model Illinois Government, popularly known as "MIG", students prepare for an annual simulation in the State Capitol by taking on key state political roles such as state legislators, elected Executive Branch officials, lobbyists, journalists—and even attorneys arguing before the Illinois Supreme Court. Moot Court participants practice as teams of attorneys who draw from and reference federal and state court cases in making their case before appellate court justices, with the ultimate goal not only of learning about public law and the courts but making a strong showing in regional and national level competitions.
Political Science internships at EIU provide a valuable outlet for applied learning, and the department has an excellent track record of placing its majors and minors in internships. EIU political science interns earn academic credit for internships that include experiencing trials in the Circuit Court; doing research for prosecutors in the State's Attorney's office; assisting election campaigns for federal, state and local candidates ; working with a legislator in staffing a district office; or applying public administration principles to local government administration and program management.
Student Research and Writing
The Political Science major at EIU helps students to develop and sharpen their skills in research and writing. Political science majors enroll in two introductory-level research methods classes (PLS 2001 and PLS 2033) which take students from foundational skills such as formulating a good research question or hypothesis on through the variety of social science methods and techniques involved in gathering and analyzing political information and data. Our majors also take a Senior Capstone Course (PLS 4600) which focuses on the knowledge students have acquired during their undergraduate coursework in political science while reflecting on research questions and strategies connected to individual class members' interests.
EIU Political Science majors are encouraged to pursue their research interests through alternatives such as working on independent studies with faculty members; submitting research papers to college and university-level competitions; and presenting research papers or posters at state, regional and national conferences. Students also may submit their research papers and other written work for publication in the department's own online journal, the EIU Political Science Review. And the department also sponsors a Student Research Support Fund that helps fund student research, particularly travel costs involved in conference paper and poster presentations.
Matthew Cain presenting his research poster on media coverage of the Affordable Care Act at the 2014 Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association.
Lindsey Juszczak (right), at the 2014 Showcase EIU program, responding to an inquiry from fellow PLS Major Laporhsia Graves, while presenting her poster on women in state legislative leadership positions.
Political Science Into Practice
Professor Jeffrey Ashley presenting at EIU’s 2014 Sciencefest panel on threats to the U.S. water supply.
Political Science students at EIU are encouraged to be actively engaged in campus and community life, as well as society and politics beyond the Charleston Illinois area. At the department level, we facilitate this through opportunities in groups such as the Political Science Association and Pi Sigma Alpha (the Political Science Honorary).
On campus, political science majors have been well represented over the years in activities such as Student Government, the Student Senate, the student lobbying team, alternative Spring Breaks, voter registration drives and the EIU campus Democratic and Republican groups. With the generosity of its alumni, the Department also supports an involved cadre of majors through scholarships such as the James E. and Joseph T. Connelly Scholarship and the Robert F. Glover Student Leadership Scholarship.
Professor Kevin Anderson (center) with Political Science students and alumni at the 2014 Showcase EIU program.