Political Science

Political Science

Campus Location: 
College of Arts and Sciences

A political science major studies the use of authority and influence in society within legal, political, human and governmental contexts. This flexible program is designed to:

  • develop an understanding of the nature of political power, so students can become effective citizens and leaders
  • provide knowledge and develop the intellectual skills enabling students to successfully enter and complete law school and graduate school
  • develop the talents of students for future leadership

A political science major or minor combines well with business administration, history and other majors.

Courses of Study

The political science major includes a variety of course offerings, in such areas as American politics, political parties and behavior, international politics, legislative and executive behavior, state and local politics, constitutional law, current legal issues, 20th century world history, and political thought.

Internship Opportunities

Doane students may participate in month-long or semester-long internships, gaining hands-on work experience for college credit. Plans for a large-scale D.C. internship program are currently being developed. Political science majors have completed internships at such locations as:

  • Nebraska governor's office
  • Nebraska Games & Parks Commission
  • Nebraska secretary of state's office
  • Lincoln Parks and Recreation
  • Lincoln, Neb., mayor's office
  • political campaigns
  • state legislator's office
  • law offices
  • state attorney general's office

Experience Washington

The Experience Washington program is designed for juniors and seniors who wish to experience politics firsthand. For one semester, students live and work in the Washington, D.C. area, receiving a full semester's credit for their time there. Four days a week, students get the opportunity to learn about the political process firsthand at an internship of their choosing. One day a week they attend classes sponsored by the Washington Internship Institute. Students may pursue any type of internship that interests them, and need not be political science majors to participate in the program. Faculty approval is required. You can learn more about the Washington Internship Institute at http://www.wiidc.org. If you have questions about the Experience Washington program, please contact the program's director: tim.hill@doane.edu.

Learning Environment

In the political science department we strive to foster a learning environment that goes beyond developing content knowledge. Specifically, we are interested in pushing students to hone skills in three areas: critical thinking, oral communication and written argument. These skills are vital to pursuing careers in law, politics, or almost any other professional vocation.

In order to develop these skills, we incorporate many different teaching methods into our classrooms, depending on the needs of the course. This challenging, people-oriented approach to teaching allows for the development of strong verbal/oratory skills and reasoning skills and encourages you to analyze the political world around you in a serious way. Methods include:

  • class discussions
  • essay exams
  • class presentations
  • political clubs
  • debates and supporting discussions
  • participation in student government
  • analytical research papers and policy papers
  • internships
  • simulations of political institutions and processes
  • study off campus in D.C., Europe, and elsewhere

Small class sizes and a high likelihood one of the faculty members from the department will also serve as the student's academic advisor increase the opportunities for individualized instruction and personal interaction.

Specialized Program Opportunities

The research philosophy of the Doane political science department may be summed up in three short sentences:

  1. Teaching is our most important mission.
  2. A vibrant research agenda is vital to keeping our classes relevant.
  3. When pursuing research, students should be involved whenever feasible.

Doane is a teaching college, and the political science department is no exception. We put teaching first in everything we do. However, politics is a rapidly changing discipline. Without exposure to the latest concepts and theories, our teaching will quickly become outdated, and the best way to stay up on the ongoing conversation within the scholarly community is to contribute to it ourselves. We see research, then, not just as an outlet for exploring our own interests, but as a means of informing our teaching about the latest developments in the field.

Research is not just an opportunity for faculty, however; it also provides a prime opportunity for students to explore the political world from a perspective most have never experienced. Political science students at Doane have worked on data files, helped run laboratory experiments, and even co-authored papers presented at professional conferences. This kind of training provides valuable experience for students considering graduate school, as well as anyone curious about the work of a political scientist.

Our research interests are varied and diverse. Tim Hill's primary research is on the political effects of prime-time television and other popular media sources. (For a copy of his latest conference paper, please click the link below.) He has also explored the political identity of Jewish Americans and the sources of framing in prospect theory (an economic theory which won its surviving originator a Nobel Prize in 2002). Nick Vaccaro is interested in the issues of democratization and political representation in developing countries (and in Latin America in particular). He has done research on democratic politics following market reform in Argentina, Peru and Mexico.


Terror, Torture, and 24:  Does Jack Bauer Raise Your Personal Threat Level? by Professor Hill


View detailed course information

Requirements for the Political Science Major:

Complete the following:

Political Science Internship

A maximum of three political science internship credits under PSI 421 and three internship credits under PSI 425 may be counted toward the major in political science.


PSI 426 may not be counted toward the major in political science.