Political Science

The Department of Political Science prepares students to address fundamental questions of equality, liberty, and justice; the history of political philosophy; the constitutional structure of government in the U.S., and the major institutions of national politics, urban politics, and public policy. 



For Students Considering a Career in Law

Political Science is an especially good major for those interested in a career in law. The American Bar Association identifies a set of skills and bodies of knowledge that students considering a career in law should develop through their undergraduate education, and the Political Science major concentrates on all of these to a very high degree. These core skills and values include "analytic and problem-solving skills," "critical reading abilities," "writing skills," "oral communication and listening abilities," and "general research skills," among others.* The Political Science curriculum will involve you repeatedly in academic work that hones each of these, and covers areas of knowledge the ABA considers important preparation for law school: a comprehension of the contemporary American political and legal systems; political development of the United States; the fundamental principles of political thought; a basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction; and the ability to organize, manage, and analyze data in the process of conducting research. Law-related internships or co-curricular activities may also be appropriate.


Honors in Political Science

Honors work in Political Science affords an opportunity for Political Science majors to investigate topics of their own choosing. In the process, they will be expanding and honing their research and writing skills, which is excellent preparation for graduate and professional degree work. Majors pursuing honors will devote a substantial portion of their last two semesters at Rhodes to their projects (honors work earns eight-twelve credits across two semesters). To be eligible, a student must have completed 28 credits of course work in the major and have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in the college and in Political Science courses. Honors guidelines are available from the chairperson of the department.

Political Science: Faculty and Staff


Daniel E. Cullen. 1988. M.A., Dalhousie University; Ph.D., Boston College. (History of political philosophy; American political thought; contemporary political theory.)
Michael Nelson. 1991. Fulmer Professor of Political Science. B.A., College of William and Mary; M.A. and Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University. (American Presidency; Southern Politics; American politics.)
Marcus D. Pohlmann. 1986. B.A., Cornell College; M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D., Columbia University. (American politics; legal studies; education policy, black political thought.)

Associate Professors

Amy E. Jasperson. 2012. Chair. B.A. Wellesley College; Ph.D., University of Minnesota. (American politics; political communication; political psychology; political campaigns.)
Stephen H. Wirls. 1994. B.A., Kenyon College; M.A. and Ph. D., Cornell University. (American politics; Congress; American political thought; modern political philosophy.)

Assistant Professors

Keith C. Gibson. 2014. B.A., Princeton University; Ph.D., University of Michigan (Urban politics, political participation and political behavior, research methodology and public policy)
Renee J. Johnson. 2013. B.A., Lawrence University; M.A. and Ph.D., Stony Brook University. (Political economy/public policy; methodology; American Politics.)

Post Doctoral Fellow in Political Science

Erin A. Dolgoy. 2013. M.A. and Ph.D., Michigan State University. (Political theory, science and technology studies, American politics.)

Director of Mock Trial

Anna R. Smith. 2012. B.A., Rhodes College; J.D. Duke University. (Legal studies; internships.)


Jacqueline Baker. 2010. Departmental Assistant.

Requirements for a Major in Political Science

A total of forty-eight (48) credits as follows:

  1. Political Science 151: U. S. Politics.
  2. Political Science 270: Research Methods.
  3. Political Science 485: Senior Seminar.
  4. One course of the following courses in political thought and philosophy: 212, 214, 216, 218, 230, 311, 314, Humanities 201 (Politics Track.)
  5. International Studies 110 or International Studies 120.
  6. Seven additional courses (28 credits) in Political Science, two of which must be at the 300 level. Political Science 460, Public Affairs Internship, may count as a major elective at the 200 level.

POLS 262, 263 and 264 do not count toward a major in Political Science.

Requirements for a Minor in Political Science

A total of five courses or twenty (20) credits as follows:

  1. Political Science 151: U. S. Politics.
  2. Two courses at the 200-level. Humanities 201 (Politics Track) may count for a 200 level course.
  3. Two courses at the 300-level or above.

POLS 460, Public Affairs Internship, does not count as a course for the minor in Political Science.

POLS 262, 263 and 264 do not count toward a minor in Political Science.

The Washington Semester and the Capitol Semester

Political Science students may participate in two different semester long programs in Washington, D.C., each involving courses, an internship, and a research project. Since special financial arrangements are required for these programs, students need to meet with the Director of the Buckman Center. These programs can be done in the Fall or the Spring semester. Two of the four courses transferred from the Washington Semester may satisfy requirements for a Political Science major, and all four of the courses transferred from the Capitol Semester may satisfy requirements for a Political Science major. Since some coursework transfers as internship credit, students receiving credit from either of these programs cannot count an additional Political Science 460 course toward the Political Science major.