College of Social and Behavioral Sciences2014-2015

Department of Politics and International Affairs

American Political Studies, Bachelor of Science

This plan will not be available to new students after Summer 2015

The bachelor of science degree in American Political Studies offers diverse coursework to students with opportunities to discover insights into how things get done or engage political stakeholders to get things done. Students who are interested in law, government, economies, policy, racial and gender issues, and the environment will gain a strong understanding of the dynamics that work together to create our political world.


What Can I Do with a Bachelor of Science in American Political Studies?

Do you often find yourself in deep conversation or thought about U.S. domestic issues and politics? Majoring in American Political Studies will broaden your perspective and knowledge across diverse academic coursework as you select courses in Political Science and other disciplines that reflect your interest.

You will work with faculty mentors to select courses that will allow you to follow your career path. Engagement across diverse disciplines will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of political science and the subjects you are passionate about. By learning the theory, principles, and practice of government and politics at all levels, you will emerge ready to pursue a career in business, government, the nonprofit sector, law, and more.

Career opportunities that might be pursued:
  • Public relations
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Business
  • Public policy analyst
  • Community organizer
  • Municipal or regional government
  • Political correspondent

With further education, one of these paths is possible:
  • Lawyer
  • Public health director
  • Lobbyist/organizer
  • Consumer advocate
  • Labor relations specialist
  • University faculty

University Requirements

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's liberal studies, diversity, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.
    The full policy can be viewed here.



In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 54 units of major requirements

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units

Please note that you may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA C
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 114
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Research Optional
University Honors Program Optional
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan
Student Learning Outcomes

The Bachelor of Science degree in American Political Studies provides students with the knowledge, skills and abilities to become active and effective citizens in the political system of the United States.

To do so, the APS degree presents a plan of study that accomplishes this goal in three ways. First, students will develop a thorough understanding of how the institutions and processes of American politics function. Second, because of the interdisciplinary component in this degree students will discover the many ways in which that political system affects and is affected by economic, cultural, and legal forces in American society.  Finally, students are encouraged to use this knowledge to develop their own assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of the American political system and to develop their own strategies as citizens for improving that system, locally and nationally.

Building upon this fundamental knowledge, this program also ensures that students can define, design and implement effective research projects related to American politics. In addition, effective citizenship means that students should be able to lead and persuade others. To that end they will be able to make clear and effective presentations of their work in writing and in public settings.  Thus students will leave this program ready to contribute meaningfully to their communities.

The faculty of this department are innovative teachers and researchers who engage students in their classes, research agendas, and co-curricular activities.  Faculty regularly encourage students to engage in undergraduate research projects, therefore exposing them to and engaging them in cutting-edge professional political science research.  Additionally, faculty regularly lead study abroad programs all over the world, and also help students apply for semester or year long study abroad programs. The department offers many opportunities for serving internships in government agencies as well as working for political campaigns and advocacy groups. The department also offers extensive co-curricular activities through Model United Nations and numerous annual MUN conferences both in the US and internationally.  These broad opportunities and perspectives help students understand our diverse world.

Another component of the APS program is that students will have the opportunity to serve their communities and the nation while obtaining their degree. These opportunities allow students to test theories against practice and to gain valuable experience for future careers.

American Political Studies

  • Conceptual and Analytical:  Students should have the basic knowledge of the historical, social, economic, and legal contexts of American political life.
    • Identify and use salient political science concepts and analytical method to evaluate current U.S. public policies, American political actors’ behavior, American political events, and American institutional arrangements within a diverse world.
    • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the American political system and develop strategies as citizens for improving the systems locally and nationally.
    • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of a variety of significant analytical approaches used in American political science.
    • Analyze, synthesize and evaluate the interconnectedness and interdependence of the variety of economic, social and political forces on American political life.
  • Inquiry and Research:  Students should be able to define, design and implement effective research projects related to American politics.
    • Devise a basic research design.
    • Test hypotheses with basic empirical data.
    • Write the findings in a research report.
  • Communication:  Students should be able to make clear and effective presentations of their work in writing and in public presentations.
    • Students will demonstrate advanced writing skills and be able to summarize and explain scholarly political science articles.
    • Analyze and critique the material read /discussed.
    • Suggest and discuss alternative possibilities and outcomes.
    • Engage and interest the reader.
    • Speak in public settings.
    • Demonstrate an ability to apply the discussion to policy and “real world” applications.
  • Professional and Citizenship:  Students should know, understand, and be able to meet the expectations of professionalism and citizenship.
    • Demonstrate professional behavior in terms of demeanor, personal presentation, ethics, and civic participation in experiential learning and classrooms settings.
    • Acquire the skills and knowledge base to understand the importance of and options for environmental sustainability and its tenuous relationship to economic development in local and global terms.
    • Critically reflect upon the nature and consequences of diversity (e.g. race, gender, class, ethnicity, religion, culture, nation), and develop an understanding of how this diversity both alters and is altered in a world characterized by increasing global interaction.


Major Requirements
General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required, if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit. 

    You may take these remaining courses from any academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you. (Please note that you may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.)

Additional Information
  • Please be aware that for this major at least 36 of the 54 units in Major Requirements must be in upper-division courses (those numbered 300 and above).

    Finally be aware that we won't count a grade of "D" for major credit.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

Campus Availability

Go to mobile site