American Politics

American Politics

PROGRAM OVERVIEW The Department of Political Science offers majors in political science and international relations. With the liberal arts focus of the program, students develop a foundation both for citizenship in a democratic society and for successful training in a career or in graduate or professional school. Students will be prepared for entrance into state, local, and federal government service; business careers; social work; journalism; teaching; and politics; approximately half of Drake's politics and international relations majors go to law school or other graduate study.

FACULTY Three full-time faculty members within the Department of Political Science advise students and teach courses within the major. Many courses taught by other Political Science faculty members or faculty in Law Politics and Society (LPS), Business, Law, Sociology, Rhetoric, Journalism, and other disciplines, can be integrated as coursework within the American Politics major.

ACADEMIC PREPARATION There are no prerequisite high school courses or requirements needed for enrollment in the introductory courses in political science, but students should have a well-rounded academic high school curriculum, including history, English and mathematics.

REQUIREMENTS FOR MAJOR American Politics majors complete a total of 42 credit hours, with a unique focus on both rigorous academic study and experiential learning related to the practice of politics. This includes core disciplinary coursework in American Politics, Comparative Politics, Research Methods, a unique hands-on research experience, American Political Theory, and a Senior Seminar. Students choose upper level electives in Political Behavior, Institutions, and Contemporary Policy Debates in consultation with their advisor. The remaining 9 credits are dedicated to building practical political skills and may be completed with any combination of: study in Washington, D.C., professional internships, a double major in Strategic Political Communications or Data Analytics, or a series of short courses taught by local professionals working in the field.

DRAKE CURRICULUM The Drake Curriculum, required of all undergraduates, is designed to help students meet personal and professional goals as they acquire fundamental knowledge and abilities in ten Areas of Inquiry, including communication, critical thinking, artistic experience, historical consciousness, information and technology literacy, international and multicultural experiences, scientific and quantitative literacy, values and ethics, and engaged citizenship. As an alternative to the Areas of Inquiry, students may choose to follow the Honors track. Students work closely with their academic advisers to craft a program of study in general education that prepares students for civic and professional leadership.

The Drake Curriculum also requires a First Year Seminar, which fosters development of critical thinking and written and oral communication skills through a topical focus, and a Senior Capstone in which students demonstrate the capacity to bring information, skills, and ideas to bear on one project.

INTERNSHIPS & OPPORTUNITIES Des Moines offers unparalleled internships and volunteer positions, and many Drake students take paid political jobs prior to graduation. Located a few miles from the Iowa Capital and the Office of the Governor as well as dozens of state agencies and boards, Drake students are regular fixtures in Iowa State government. Des Moines also serves as the headquarters for the state party organizations, a number of nationally-recognized consulting firms, media outlets, issue-advocacy groups, and law firms. Iowa also features a uniquely competitive electoral environment, leading local, state, and national campaign organizations to offer myriad opportunities — from entry-level field work to senior staff or campaign management.

Those interested in national politics are routinely offered summer internship positions in Washington, D.C., and Drake is affiliated with both the Washington Center and the Washington Semester at American University, offering semester-long academic internship programs in Washington, D.C.

Most notably, the road to the White House starts in Iowa, and Drake is the place to be. Since 2004, every major presidential candidate has visited Drake’s campus (as have several you’ve never heard of). In 2020, Drake hosted 28 political events on campus, including CNN town halls with Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke, the CNN/DNC Democratic candidate debate, and caucus-night events for Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg. Over the past 5 election cycles, Drake has hosted 5 nationally-televised live debates (with CBS, ABC, and CNN; 3 Democratic debates and 2 Republican debates). Many students have the opportunity to do a paid short-term internship with national production staff or receive tickets to the events.

HONORS Each year an outstanding graduating senior politics major is presented with the C. Walter Clark Award.

CAREER OPTIONS Graduates with an American Politics major are well-positioned to work in government, issue advocacy, campaigns, business, or consulting; they are also well-positioned to join a graduate program or attend law school. Recent graduates have taken positions with The White House, U.S. House and Senate offices, AARP, Bloomberg, the Democratic National Committee, public policy consulting firms LS2Group, DCI Group, and Ballast Research, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Lieutenant Governor of Iowa, Planned Parenthood, and the State Department.

STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS AND ACTIVITIES Students with an overall GPA of at least 3.0 together with a GPA of at least 3.25 in a minimum of 15 credit hours in politics courses may be eligible for induction into Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honorary society.