About the Department

Washington DC Oct  2009 Panorama 1

Department information:

Matt Bergbower, Ph.D. - Department Chair
Laura Wilburn, Administrative Assistant
Department Office: Holmstedt Hall, Room 301
Web site: http://www.indstate.edu/polisci/

Phone: 812-237-2430
Fax: 812-237-3445
E-mail: polisci@indstate.edu

Office Hours:
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Mailing Address:
Room 301 Holmstedt Hall
Indiana State University
Terre Haute, IN 47809


Political science is the systematic study of politics, including the processes, institutions, and values that govern societies, the material distribution of wealth and resources, the interactions between and among states, and the timeless questions about what “ought to be.” Politics, according to one famous definition, is about “who gets what, when, and how.” Broadly defined, politics is an inescapable part of any human society, and the study of politics is an essential component of any liberal arts education.

As citizens in a democratic society, students should have a thorough understanding of the processes, institutions, and issues that confront democratic choice, or democracy is itself in peril. As citizens of an increasingly interdependent global community, students should have an understanding of international relations between states and non-state actors, as well as the causes and consequences of political development and change within diverse political communities. Because courses in political science offer this type of instruction, they are invaluable to students regardless of major or career objective.

The department’s commitment to a quality academic experience for its students in and out of the classroom results in programs that are learning-centered and focused on helping students be:

  1. liberally-educated, with broad exposure to political theory and practice, normative debates, and empirical evidence;
  2. capable of critical and analytical thinking and effective oral and written communication skills;
  3. prepared academically and experientially for graduate studies or professional studies in political science, public administration, international affairs, or law;
  4. well-trained academically and experientially for productive careers in politics and government, public administration, law, business, education, community service, survey research, or journalism.

The curriculum offered by the Department of Political Science has been crafted to ensure that students develop a broad, theoretically rich, and methodologically rigorous understanding of political science as a discipline of study. Because political science is an eclectic discipline, its students are encouraged to develop expertise in related fields, such as criminology, economics, history, psychology, and sociology.                

Students majoring in political science find that they are well prepared for graduate school or law school, or for careers in government, nonprofit management, journalism, teaching, and business. In support of the liberal arts and sciences mission of the college and ISU, the Department of Political Science participates in the General Education Program, the Honors Program, the International Studies Program, the Women’s Studies Program, and Social Science Education.


The ISU Political Science Department is part of the University's College of Arts and Sciences. The total number of students majoring within the department averages approximately 100, that total usually being rather evenly divided between Political Science majors and Legal Studies majors. Although a mid- sized unit within the University in terms of its total number of majors, the Political Science Department has in recent years had one of the largest contingents of students in the University Honors Program.


The Department of Political Science offers two major degree programs and four minor programs. The majors offered are a Bachelor's Degree (BA/BS) in Political Science (39 semester hours required) and an interdisciplinary Bachelor's Degree (BA/BS) in Legal Studies (39 semester hours required). The minor programs are in Political Science (18 semester hours required), Legal Studies (21 semester hours required), Civic Leadership (24 semester hours required), and Public Administration (21 semester hours required).

Degrees Offered

The Department of Political Science offers one curriculum leading to a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree. Candidates for either degree must successfully complete the University requirement of a minimum of 124 semester hours of credit, including General Education course work, as well as the requirements for the departmental major. Candidates for a bachelor of arts degree must also complete two years, or the equivalent, of a foreign language. A minor is not required for either degree.

Recognizing the diverse needs of students, the department offers two curricular paths for attaining a major in political science: one strictly in political science; the other in legal studies, for students with a specific interest in the study of law. The department also offers minors in political science, legal studies, civic leadership, and public administration. The curricular patterns for the department’s programs are drawn from the five major fields of political science — American politics, political theory, public law, comparative politics, and international relations—and allow for a wide range of course selection. Through regular consultation with departmental faculty, students are provided with as much breadth of contact with the areas of political science as desired within the framework of the student’s interests and career objectives.

Departmental Opportunities

The college, in consultation with departments, assigns each student a faculty academic advisor. Majors and minors in the Department of Political Science are encouraged to maintain good contact with their advisor, and are expected to work with their advisor prior to registration each semester. Students who do so are more likely to meet their goals and achieve academic success. Students can find their assigned advisor by consulting the college, the department, or their DARS.

The department houses the Center for Governmental Services, which renders advisory, consulting, research, and training services to Indiana state and local governmental agencies and their elected and appointed public officials. The center also provides research and training facilities for graduate and advanced undergraduate students in political science and public administration, and disseminates information about governmental careers.

Internships with federal, state, and local government units are available to students through the department. For example, each spring the four partisan caucuses of the Indiana General Assembly offer a limited number of paid internships. Students may receive up to nine hours of course credit. There are no restrictions on applicants’ majors, but caucus representatives prefer juniors, seniors, and graduate students. During the legislative session, interns are expected to be in Indianapolis.

An extensive collection of catalogs and materials relating to law school is maintained in Stalker Hall, adjacent to the pre-professional advisor’s office. Students interested in the study or the practice of law may also consult with either the pre-professional advisor or the Legal Studies advisor. These services are available to all University students whether or not they are legal studies majors or have an emphasis in prelaw.