Major in Political Science

Want to declare a major in Political Science?

  1. Get a "Declaring a Political Science Major" form from any political science professor or the bulletin board outside the political science office. [or click here to download the form]
  2. Fill it out, indicate your preference for an adviser, and return it to the department chair (Dr. Kate Knutson)
  3. The department chair will email you and let you know who will serve as your advisor

What can I do with a major in Political Science?

  • Many of our graduating seniors plan to attend law school. The Gustavus Pre-Law Program is not a major, but faculty advise students on appropriate courses and preparation for the LSAT and the law school application process. Our students have been accepted by the most prestigious national law schools (including Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, and Georgetown), all four Minnesota law schools, plus several other prominent schools around the nation.
  • Two or three students each year have pursued graduate work in Political Science or Public Policy, leading to an MA or a Ph.D. In the last ten years our students have received full scholarships and stipends to complete Ph.D.s at schools such as Harvard, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Columbia, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona State, Washington, and Washington University in St. Louis. Some majors pursue graduate study in other fields such as Public Policy, Economics, and History.Matt Swenson
  • Other graduates go directly into politics, often working for elected officials before choosing further study. Several Gustavus graduates currently serve in the Minnesota State Legislature or work in Minnesota legislative politics, while others work on the staff of US Senators or Representatives, or in other branches of the federal government.
  • Another set of students chooses public service for their post-graduate careers. Political Science majors regularly Mikka McCrackenserve with the Peace Corps, Lutheran Volunteer Corps, or other national service programs. Several graduates work for the U.S. Foreign Service. And many combine political science with elementary or secondary education, intending to become teachers.
  • Finally, many of our graduates chose political science as a major because they liked the courses and the faculty, but go on to non-political careers in the business world.

Political Science Fun and Fellowship

Annual Faculty Cookie Bake Off: Political Science faculty compete in a baking competition judged by students each December

Pi Sigma Alpha/Political Science Banquet: The department recognizes outstanding political science students each springPolstitutional Olympics 2013

Polstitutional Olympics: Students in U.S. Public Policy and Constitutional Law compete in a series of events in pursuit of the Golden Gavel trophy (spring)

Political Science Research Symposium: Students enrolled in senior seminars present thesis research in poster form on Honors Day (spring)

Senior Reception: A reception honoring graduating seniors and their families

Political Science Awards and Honors

Ronald S. and Rolf S. Christenson Scholarship: Established in 2000 by Kathryn Kidd Christenson, whose involvement with the College includes service as an associate in development and public affairs and as an instructor in English, women's studies, and political science, in memory of her husband, Ronald, founder of the College's political science department, and their son, Rolf. The scholarship, which incorporates a previously established endowment fund supporting an award for writing excellence by political science students, is to be awarded annually to a "junior political science major judged exemplary in the excellence, depth, and imagination of his or her academic performance in political science and who has a demonstrated interest in public service.”Christenson Scholarship Winners

  • 2013: Taylor Logeais
  • 2012: Eric Halvorson
  • 2011: Karin Lund
  • 2010: Hasanga Samaraweera
  • 2009: Mara Berdahl
  • 2008: Erica Koos
  • 2007: Alex Knewtson
  • 2006: Erin Bettendorf
  • 2005: Lindsey Reimnitz

Political Science Academic Assistants: Department faculty select two outstanding political science majors to serve as Department Assistants each academic year

  • 2012-2013: Eric Halvorson and Kate Redden
  • 2011-2012: Karin Lund and Colleen Peterson
  • 2010-2011: Allie Stehlin and Rachel Schmitt
  • 2009-2010: Lynn Hillen and Dan Couillard
  • 2008-2009: Erica Koos and Nick Stramp
  • 2007-2008: Jack Underwood and Sarah Bernhardson

Political Science Writing Awards: Awards are given to two papers each year written in political science courses

  • 2012-2013: Renate Willer and Ben Halvorson
  • 2011-2012: Karin Lund and Ethan Marxhausen
  • 2010-2011: Jamie Olsen and Brett Nelson
  • 2009-2010: Ryan Lee and Mary Cooley
  • 2008-2009: Jennifer Push and Amanda Capelle
  • 2007-2008: Benjamin Birks and Nicholas Stramp

Political Science Major with HonorsEric Halvorson

  • 2013: Eric Halvorson
  • 2012: Karin Lund
  • 2011: Jackie Schwerm, Courtney West

Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society: Pi Sigma Alpha is the national political science honor society. Founded in 1920, the Pi Gamma Chapter at Gustavus has been active since 1986. One of the primary purposes of the society is to “stimulate scholarship and intelligent interest in political science.” Membership in Pi Sigma Alpha is open to junior and senior students who have completed a minimum of three political science courses, earned grades no lower than a B average in those political science courses, and whose overall GPA places them in the top one-third of their class. Interested students may apply in the fall or spring of their junior or senior year. Contact advisors Kate Knutson or Alisa Rosenthal for more information