Department of Political Science
Chair: Jay Michael Goodliffe
Admission to Degree Program
All degree programs in the Department of Political Science are open enrollment.
The political science major is designed to fulfill the admonition of the Doctrine and Covenants (88:79–80) to teach one another "things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms that ye may be prepared in all things."
Politics and government are central to the human condition, involving fundamental collective choices about our local, national, and global communities. Successful governance establishes justice, ensures tranquility, promotes welfare and prosperity, and secures liberty. Failed governance brings violence, poverty, chaos, and fear. Politics lays bare our highest aspirations and our basest impulses.
Political science involves a wide range of theoretical, empirical, and moral inquiry into the fundamentals of governance, with diverse perspectives about the nature, uses, and abuses of power. Students learn various methods of inquiry, ranging from statistical analysis of quantifiable data to historical methods to interpretation of influential philosophical texts. With these skills, political science students consider the nature of justice, the causes of domestic and international conflict, the diverse forms of government, the dangers of authoritarianism, the global interconnections among governments and societies, how well governments and politicians represent citizens, and the ways that political parties and mass media shape public participation and public policy. Political science graduates reflect on their own political values, engage respectfully with competing ideas, and become prepared “in all things” to lead their lives more responsibly and intelligently and to influence their communities for the better.
Political science improves students’ critical thinking, reading, writing, and methodological skills, which helps prepare them for essential responsibilities as a person and as a citizen, as well as for additional studies and employment in a modern economy. More specifically, the Political Science department offers a series of undergraduate emphases in political science for students who are preparing for public service, non-profit work, research careers, or professional degrees in law or business. These emphases are: Global Development, International Strategy and Diplomacy, Legal Studies, Political Strategy, and Research and Data Analysis.
Political science students are encouraged to enrich their undergraduate education and enhance their career prospects with an off-campus internship experience. Several high-quality opportunities are available for which credit may be earned toward the major or minor.
Washington Seminar. Students from any academic discipline spend a semester or term in Washington, D.C., working in government, business, communications, or the arts. The program includes course work on contemporary national issues. Participants earn 6 to 12 hours of upper-division credit.
Utah State Legislature Internship. During each winter semester, students from any academic discipline may work as interns in the Utah State Legislature. Students interested in legislative and public policy processes will particularly benefit from the experience. Participants earn 5 to 14 hours of upper-division credit and a small stipend.
International Internships. The International Internship Program at the David M. Kennedy Center places students in a variety of internships with foreign governments and international institutions. Some of these internships are eligible for credit towards the major.
To receive a BYU bachelor's degree a student must complete, in addition to all requirements for a specific major, the following university requirements:
The University Core, consisting of requirements in general and religious education. (For a complete listing of courses that meet university core requirements, see here.)
At least 30 credit hours must be earned in residence on the BYU campus in Provo as an admitted day student
A minimum of 120 credit hours
A cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
Be in good standing with the Honor Code Office
Students should see their college advisement center for help or information concerning the undergraduate programs.