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Political Science and Public Administration (PSC, PAD)

For information, please contact the chairperson, 989-774-3442, 247 Anspach Hall,

Why Study Political Science, International Relations or Public and Nonprofit Administration?

The Department of Political Science and Public Administration offers three majors and minors: political science, international relations, and public and nonprofit administration. Therefore, students choosing one of these distinct but closely-related areas of study have a wide variety of backgrounds, interests, and career goals. Coursework in each area provides students with the opportunity to obtain a broad education in liberal arts as well as training for specific career paths. Students will learn to think critically, write well and speak with confidence and are exposed to a variety of methods of examining information, from textual analysis to the use of statistical software to analyze data. Finally, all students will be encouraged to develop analytic and deliberative skills that will prepare them to become engaged citizens in a pluralistic, global society.

Political science explores how people participate in collective decision-making to identify and solve issues of shared, public concern. Given both the historical and current exclusion of some people from the governing process, political science also often includes an examination of perennial normative questions, such as what constitutes a just society. Thus, many political science majors or minors are interested in learning more about lawmaking and legal processes, which is good preparation for a legal career, including gaining admission to law school. Others choose to focus their studies on campaigns and elections and become engaged in the melee of modern political campaigns and social movements. All students develop an appreciation of political institutions and processes that help us better understand the functioning of government and the role that individuals play in determining outcomes that shape the future.

Majoring or minoring in international relations provides students with the expertise needed to confront significant challenges facing the international community and individual nation-states in today’s global economy. Students develop an understanding of complex international security issues, the functioning of international organizations, and threats to the protection of human rights and the global environment. They also gain cultural competency through valuable knowledge of these international issues and the study of comparative politics. Those planning careers in international governmental and nongovernmental agencies; private business overseas; and the Foreign Service would be well served by the international relations major or minor.

Students who major in public and nonprofit administration or minor in public administration will enhance their understanding of governance and citizen engagement. This major focuses on government and nonprofit management skills, cultural competency values, accountability and transparency in an organization, and the process of public budgeting. There are many opportunities that start with a major in this discipline and can provide a plethora of career options, from working in government organizations, nonprofit organizations, or international organizations Students who major in public and nonprofit administration and express and primary interest in the nonprofit administration field have the opportunity to earn their Certified Nonprofit Professional credential. This credential signals to nonprofit professionals that these students have gone beyond the basic academic requirements to truly understand the best practices for the sector.

These majors and minors are also complementary to a large number of other majors at CMU, including management, world languages and cultures, history, military science, integrative public relations, journalism, philosophy, psychology, sociology, interpersonal and public communications, and recreation, parks and leisure services administration. The Department participates in a number of interdisciplinary programs, such as public affairs, Latin American studies, women’s studies, sustainability and environmental policy and European studies. Undergraduate Certificates in Citizen Engagement, Public Policy Analysis, Public & Social Entrepreneurship, Political Advocacy and Elections, Lawmaking and Legal Processes, International Nongovernmental Organization Administration, International Security Studies, Governance of Nations, and Global Governance and Advocacy are also offered. Finally, the Department has a strong internship program, providing students with on-the-job training in real life settings throughout Michigan, at the national level and in international organizations.

Political Science and Public Administration at CMU

Faculty in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at CMU specialize in a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to US national political institutions and processes, American state and local government, public administration, public policy, international relations, comparative politics, political theory, and nonprofit leadership. The courses offered in the department reflect these research interests, allowing students to take courses on a wide variety of topics. The department hosts the Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government. The Griffin Chair, a person with a distinguished record of public service and an extensive background in Michigan politics, teaches courses each year focusing on Michigan state politics and policy and provides students with a behind-the-scenes look at current state politics. The chair holder focuses on stimulating political interest among CMU students as well as preparing future Michigan political leaders.

Degrees in Political Science or Public Administration

The Department of Political Science and Public Administration offers B.A. and B.S. degrees in political science, international relations, and public and nonprofit administration. The Political Science minor and Public Administration minor are also offered at the undergraduate level. At the graduate level, the Department offers a Master of Public Administration degree, and courses contributing to several other graduate programs. See the Graduate Bulletin for more information.

The Faculty

Larry Adamitis, Prakash Adhikari, Edward Clayton, Thomas Greitens, So Hee Jeon, David K. Jesuit, Sterling Johnson, Sharon Kukla-Acevedo, Andrea LaFontaine, Emma Powell, Kyla Stepp

The Programs

Political Science Major

Political Science Minor

International Relations Major

Public and Nonprofit Administration Major

Public Administration Minor

Public Affairs Minor (Interdepartmental)

Sustainability and Environmental Policy Minor (Interdisciplinary)

Undergraduate Certificate in Citizen Engagement

Undergraduate Certificate in Global Governance and Advocacy

Undergraduate Certificate in Governance of Nations

Undergraduate Certificate in International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Administration

Undergraduate Certificate in International Security Studies

Undergraduate Certificate in Lawmaking and Legal Processes

Undergraduate Certificate in Political Advocacy and Elections

Undergraduate Certificate in Public and Social Entrepreneurship

Undergraduate Certificate in Public Policy Analysis

Certified Nonprofit Professional

The Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential is the only national nonprofit credential preparing students (undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate) for careers in nonprofit management. Due to the unique combination of classroom training, practical experience, and leadership activities, CNPs get hired and rise more quickly in their organizations.

The four components of certification include coursework, internship (or professional nonprofit experience), professional development, and leadership and service activities. For more information, please see or contact the Department of Political Science and Public Administration..