The focus of the Department of Political Science is on analytical sophistication rather than on knowledge of a body of facts. Graduates learn to think critically about political life in a variety of settings. Consequently there are no required courses, and each student's major program is developed in an individual way through close consultation with her major advisor. To ensure that all graduates can create compelling arguments, writing is a part of almost every course in the department.
Coursework includes a variety of approaches to the study of politics: historical/interpretive, quantitative/deductive, and philosophical. Using these approaches, students examine political life in a variety of contexts from the small-scale neighborhood to the international system, asking questions about the different ways in which humans have addressed the organization of society, the management of conflicts or the organization of power and authority.