Bachelor of Arts in Political Science



    • Number of Credits
    • 121
    • Cost Per Credit
    • $ 250
    • Total Tuition*
    • $ 30,250
  • *(Before Transfer Credit)

Program Description

Students in the Political Science program learn about politics and study questions such as the following. Are democracies with a president and legislative branch more representative than those with a prime minister who leads the legislature? Is a two-party system better than a multi-party system? How can governments respect diverse ethnic, racial, and religious identities, and still promote bonds of common citizenship? What should be the role of the United States in an increasingly interdependent global economy? These are the types of questions that political scientists explore, but they also represent issues that require ordinary citizens to make informed judgments. This program prepares graduates for careers in government such as public management, administration of justice, military service and the gaining and holding of elected positions. Graduates from political science programs are found in many professions; particularly those involved in large organizations with extensive internal networks requiring skills in dealing with and managing other people.

Read More

Program Objectives

In addition to the institutional and general education level learning objectives, the program also seeks the following specific learning outcomes of its graduates. With reference to each of the respective areas of Political Science, graduates in this degree program will be able to:

Political Theory and Systems

  • Analyze the fundamental theories and philosophies of government, governance, economy, and civil society.
  • Compare and contrast the political elements of representative democracy and with other political systems.

The United States Political System

  • Assess the three institutions of government that create and implement federal policy.
  • Analyze the historical evolution and contemporary manifestations of the federal system.

TPolitical Parties and Interest Groups

  • Analyze the various roles of interest groups in the United States in both historical and modern democratic processes.
  • Assess the impact of political parties on federal, state, and local government.
  • Analyze the concept of diversity in American politics, to include gender, ethnicity, and age.

Explore Concentrations

International Relations Total Credits - 121 Hours
Core Requirements
27 Hours
This program requires SOCI311, which has specific Social Science General Education prerequisite requirements (SOCI111). Please note that SOCI111 must be completed before you can take SOCI311.
Information Literacy and Global Citizenship
3 hours

Information Literacy and Global Citizenship builds students’ information literacy skills in the international relations/global studies context. Students analyze scholarly sources in the discipline, identifying the types of issues and questions scholars pursue, the discursive conventions they employ, and their methods of engaging in dialogue with and citing sources. After identifying their own discipline specific research question, students select and use appropriate research tools, developing complex search strategies that help them to find relevant scholarly information on their topics. They evaluate sources and information to determine their authority, reliability, timeliness as well as the quality and underlying assumptions of the arguments presented. They synthesize the information they’ve found with their own ideas, effectively integrating source material into their papers and citing that material appropriately. Finally, the course asks students to reflect upon the ways in which the information literacy skills they’ve acquired provide a foundation for both global citizenship and lifelong learning. NOTE: Students may not earn credit for both IRLS200 and previous course IRLS303.

Comparative Political Systems
3 hours

Introduces major theoretical approaches to the comparative study of politics. The student applies these approaches to government institutions, the policy-making process, political participation, economic structures and social change for both state and non-state actors.

American Government I
3 hours

This is the first course in a two-course sequence in American Government. The course is designed to convey basic facts about the structure and functioning of the American political system. The philosophical foundation of the U.S. Constitution is explored and the federalist construct is examined. The functions of the three separate branches of government and their roles in policy making are a major focus.

American Government II
3 hours

This is the second course in a two-course sequence in American Government. The course is designed to provide research tools and writing skills that will build on the academic knowledge acquired in POLS210. The student will investigate issues in American government in greater detail through use of Internet-based research, seminar discussions, and point papers. (Prerequisite: POLS210).

Pre Reqs: American Government I(POLS210)

Political Theory
3 hours

This course offers an overview of Western political thought from the Ancient Greeks to contemporary political theorists. It follows the rise of secularism and modernity through an Enlightenment tradition of social contract theory, shaping debates on human nature, equality, liberty, rights, and justice as the basis for civil society and democratic governance. This course is an essential foundation for the political science major.

Political Parties and Interest Groups
3 hours

This course is a study of the various roles of political parties and interest groups in the American democratic process. Issues covered include the ideological differences among parties, the role of third party candidates, mobilization of voting blocks, the formation and types of interest groups, and political agenda development.

State, Local, and Community Politics
3 hours

Comparative analysis of state and local political systems in the United States. Emphasis is placed on the contemporary role of states and localities in the development and implementation of public policies. Additionally, there is an examination of the role of grass roots social movements in shaping local politics.

Diversity Studies in Politics
3 hours

This course examines the concept of diversity in politics in the United States and the impact of a multicultural system on political governance and social relationships. By exploring and analyzing the components of the Diversity umbrella, to include culture, class, gender, and ethnicity, students will develop an understanding of the impact of a multicultural society on the politics in America. Through structured discussions, selected readings, written assignments, and a final examination, students expand on theoretical arguments concerning current issues pertaining to diversity in politics.

Public Policy
3 hours

Analyzes the formulation and execution of public policy in America. Includes study of decision-making theory, bureaucratic politics and other models that seek to explain how policy is made. Issues explored include social, environmental, economic, homeland security, defense, and foreign policy. Additional issue areas may be covered depending on contemporary significance.

Concentration Requirements
15 Hours
International Relations II
3 hours

This course analyzes international relations from 1945 to the present. Students will become thoroughly familiar with events and major interpretive issues. Topics include the Cold War, decolonization, the role of the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations, the development of international terrorism, the Arab-Israeli and Persian Gulf conflicts, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. (Prerequisite: IRLS210).

Pre Reqs: International Relations I(IRLS210)

International Organizations
3 hours

Examines the role of and interrelationship of international organizations, nation-states, and non-state actors in the global system. North-South and East-West relations are discussed in terms of specific global issues: crisis management, conflict resolution, human rights, refugee problems, international finance, developmental assistance, world trade, and globalization.

International Development
3 hours

A detailed study of the history, theories, and practices of global development initiatives with particular concentration in the prevailing views and practices of the 1960’s-contemporary times. A look at development in light of broader political constructs that influence the development of nations.

National and Transnational Justice
3 hours

This course provides an overview of many transitional and transnational justice approaches. Beginning with Nuremberg through to the International Criminal Courts, students will gain a thorough understanding of the global justice endeavors and their connection to human security.

International Civil Order
3 hours

This course explores the unique role of international civilian police in peacekeeping operations. Students will gain an understanding of the principles, strategies, operational and tactical considerations that shape the way that international civilian police establish a rule of law that is effective enough to support emerging democratic societies and build sustainable peace. Emphasis is placed on the roles, responsibilities, challenges, and risks facing international civilian police, as well as their relationships with other international actors. This course offers a unique advantage, in that completion of this course will make students eligible to obtain a certificate of completion from the United Nation's Peace Operations Training Institute. It is up to the student to go to the POTI website to find how to obtain the POTI certificate, once this course is completed.

Institutional Requirements
3 Hours
Foundations of Online Learning
3 hours

This course is designed to provide a solid foundation for undergraduate study in the online environment. Students will be introduced to learning theory, the tools available in the online classroom and campus, and online research. Identification of personal learning style allows students to improve their study/learning techniques and prepares them to succeed in college level courses. Students will be introduced to formatting and citation styles. APUS policy and procedure is addressed. There is an emphasis on written communication to assist students in the transition to the online environment.

General Education
34 Hours
This program requires SOCI311, which has specific Social Science General Education prerequisite requirements (SOCI111). Please note that SOCI111 must be completed before you can take SOCI311.

Final Program Requirement
3 Hours
Senior Seminar in Political Science
3 hours

Analyses of specific issues addressed at the national level that would include a review of American political institutions and decision-making; policymaking in the economic, social, and security arenas; instruments of foreign and defense policy; federalism and democratic political theories; and the electoral process. This capstone course will provide students with the opportunity to complete an approved academic research exercise that demonstrates their knowledge of their selected field of study.This is a capstone course to be taken after all other Political Science courses have been satisfactorily completed. Student must have SENIOR standing to register.

General Electives
39 Hours
Electives are typically courses available at your degree level that are not currently required as a part of your degree program/academic plan. Please visit the catalog to view a complete listing of courses.

Total Credits (121 Hours)
Program Completion Rates, Median Debt and More

View more details regarding our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information.


American Public University System, American Public University, and American Military University are not affiliated with American University or the U.S. Military. American Public University System (APUS) is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). © 2015 American Public University System | 111 W. Congress Street, Charles Town, WV 25414 | Toll Free: 1-877-755-2787 | Privacy Policy | Terms