College of Arts and Sciences

Political Science Department

At Seattle University, the study of Political Science features seven prominent themes:


In every nation and locality, in the US and abroad, government is about the exercise of power. The arrangement of governing bodies, the access of political parties and interest groups, and the occasional participation of citizens shape the use of power and law for public and private purposes.


Power and law affect the daily lives of people: their well-being, personal dignity, and sense of belonging to communities. Questions of opportunity, equality, and fairness permeate the Political Science curriculum.


Governments collect taxes, spend money, regulate behavior, and provide security for the benefit of all or for the benefit of the few. Scrutiny of policies—for example, in economic growth, welfare, social services, education, health care, land use, environment, and civil rights—reveals who really benefits. 


The conditions of ethnic minorities, the roles of women, and the persistence of privilege and poverty receive special attention in many of our courses. 


Wars and other forms of coercion are extremely costly and destructive, yet they occur with disturbing frequency. International law and organizations offer alternative means of conducting foreign relations.


Global economic interdependence undermines efforts of governments to assure their citizens material security and the means to shape their own destinies.


We offer internships in the nation's capital, in Olympia, in King County, and in Seattle. Our students later pursue careers in elected government, law, public administration, interest organizations, secondary and higher education, policy analysis institutes, and domestic and international social and non-profit organizations.

Degrees offered:
Political Science: BA, minor
Political Science with Specialization in Legal Studies: BA

News and Events

Meet student Megan Rahrig, intern for US Senator Patty Murray here.

Professor Onur Bakiner published Truth Commissions: Memory, Power, and Legitimacy in which he examined the success of truth commissions in promoting policy reform, human rights accountability, and the public recognition of human rights violations. More here.

The Seattle City Council unanimously reappointed Professor Angelique Davis to the Civil Service Commission for a three-year term. More here.

Congratulations to junior Olivia Smith on being awarded the prestigious Truman scholarship. The academic award, from the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, is given to undergraduates who are preparing for careers in public service. Smith, a junior political science and Spanish double major and Sullivan Scholar, is the only Washington college student to receive the award in 2015. More here.

Professor Rose Ernst will be a guest researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin in July. She will be a part of the Twentieth Century Histories of Knowledge about Human Variation research group; her project is  "Endless Subjects: Administrative Racial Discourses in the Development of the Welfare State."