There are many definitions of political science. But whether a definition focuses on the analysis of governmental structures, or influences on voter choice, or the relationship between national governments, or the best form of government, at base, political science is about the systematic study of power. Whether power is exercised formally, as is the case between government and the individual, or informally, as is the case between individuals, it is the systematic study of power relationships that provides the subject matter for the discipline. Students who pursue a certificate in political science obtain not only an understanding of the workings of government, but they also develop important skills in critical thinking and analysis. These skills make them ideal candidates for careers in law; in government at the state, national, and international levels; in business; in journalism; and in politics.

How to Get in

Declaring the Certificate

There are no pre-requisites for declaring the Political Science certificate.  Students can declare at any time on the our website.  Political science majors are not eligible to declare the Political Science certificate.  


Only 4 credits of Introductory requirement coursework will count in the certificate. Students must take at least one 3 credit Reading and Writing in Political Science course. Students may take more than one Reading and Writing in Political Science course to meet the certificate requirements; additional Reading and Writing in Political Science courses after the first count toward the required Intermediate and Advanced level Elective courses.
Introductory Course (complete one)3-4
Introduction to American Politics and Government
Introduction to Comparative Politics
Introduction to International Relations
Introduction to Political Theory
Introduction to Comparative Politics (Honors)
Introduction to American Politics
Reading and Writing in Political Science (complete one)3-4
Introduction to Political Psychology
Elections and Voting Behavior
American Political Parties
Chinese Politics
Indian Politics in Comparative Perspective
Political Economy of Development
Israeli Politics and Society
The Russian War on Ukraine: Causes and Consequences
Conflict Resolution
International Institutions and World Order
American Foreign Policy
History of American Political Thought
Christian Political Thought
Nuclear Weapons and World Politics
The American Presidency
The Supreme Court as a Political Institution
Administrative Law
Topics in Political Philosophy
The First Amendment
Honors Seminar on Race and Politics in the United States
Arab-Israeli Conflict
Proseminar: Topics in Political Science
Any additional "Reading and Writing in Political Science" course from the list above, or any of the following courses:
Introduction to State Government
Politics in Multi-Cultural Societies
Introduction to Public Policy
Mexican-American Politics
The Political Economy of Race in the United States
United States Congress
Criminal Law and Justice
Legislative Internship
Governments and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
Social Movements and Revolutions in Latin America
Politics of East and Southeast Asia
African Politics
German Politics
Russian Politics
Social Identities
Democracy (and Its Uncertain Future)
The Civil-Military Paradox in U.S. Politics and Society
The European Union: Politics and Political Economy
Theories of International Security
China in World Politics
Global Access to Justice
International Political Economy
Principles of International Law
Contemporary American Political Thought
Athenian Democracy
Literature and Politics
Islam and Politics
Study Abroad Topics in Political Science: International Relations
Topics in Political Science
Selected Topics in Political Science
Wisconsin in Washington Internship Course
State Government and Public Policy
The American Constitution : Powers and Structures of Government
The American Constitution: Rights and Civil Liberties
Community Power and Grass Roots Politics
The American Judicial System
Gender and Politics in Comparative Perspective
Contentious Politics
The Politics of Human Rights
Politics of Gender and Women's Rights in the Middle East
The Comparative Study of Genocide
Deception and Politics
Women and Politics
Study Abroad Topics in Political Science: American Government
Campaign Finance
Public Opinion
African American Political Theory
Study Abroad Topics in Political Science: Political Theory
Politics and Society: Contemporary Eastern Europe
Study Abroad Topics in Political Science: Comparative Politics
Total Credits16

Residence and Quality of Work

  • Minimum 2.000 GPA in all certificate courses
  • At least 12 certificate credits must be completed on campus

Certificate Completion Requirement

This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Develop an understanding of and appreciation for the methods and approaches in Political Science and their relevance to important theoretical and pragmatic questions.
  2. Analyze different forms and practices of governance both democratic and non‐democratic.
  3. Argue effectively and defend propositions with intellectual integrity, while considering a range of alternative points of view and evidence.
  4. Analyze relations among individuals, civil society, political institutions, and states.
  5. Analyze the motivations and consequences of political decision‐making and activities.

Advising and Careers


Students who are declared or interested in the political science certificate have numerous advising resources available to them. The political science advising team is composed of professional and peer advisors who are excited to talk with students about everything from academic planning to professional development for future careers. Information on the political advising team, how to contact an advisor, and how to schedule an appointment hours can be found on this website.


The Department of Political Science recognizes the importance of internships in helping students develop professional skills and explore potential career paths. Positions can vary depending on availability and students’ interests, but recent sponsors have included the Wisconsin State Legislature, the Office of the Governor, Sierra Club, and numerous non-profit, media, lobbyist, and policy organizations in Wisconsin and throughout the country.  Please see our internship board for examples of the wide array of opportunities. Political Science certificate students can also get academic credit in conjunction with an internship by taking Poli Sci 315.

Alumni Mentoring

Like internships, networking can be a valuable tool in opening professional doors and learning more about the professional value of the political certificate. The department often matches students with alumni mentors drawn from our Board of Visitors and other graduates who can help them get started building a professional network, answer questions about a specific field, provide guidance in applying for jobs or preparing for interviews, and provide general career advice.


Prof. Jon Pevehouse, Chair of the Department of Political Science


Amy Gangl, Director of Undergraduate Studies


Cassie Chulick, Academic Advisor


Rachel Margolies, Undergraduate Advisor, Undergraduate Coordinator