Division of Social Studies

Politics (or political science, as many schools call it) is the study of political ideas and institutions, public policies, and the political behavior of individuals and groups. Within the context of Centre College’s strong liberal arts tradition, Politics majors receive rigorous training in American politics, political philosophy, public law, and analytical and research skills. Our curriculum prepares students for several post-graduation career objectives including law school, electoral politics, public service, government or non-profit work, and advanced study in political science, public policy, or political and data analysis.

For those interested in pre-law or public law training, we offer a course track that emphasizes legal theory, Constitutional interpretation, critical thinking, legal writing skills, and specialized pre-law advising. For those interested in exploring opportunities in electoral politics or public sector jobs, we offer courses that specialize in the “inner workings” of contemporary American politics. For those interested in pursuing research or consulting careers in academia, government, or the private sector, we offer a curriculum that emphasizes the acquisition of essential statistical and data analysis tools with opportunities to apply them in undergraduate research and internship experiences.

Politics majors are required to take five introductory courses that cover the major subfields of the discipline. The introductory course is Introduction to Political Ideologies and Issues, which covers the basic ideas, concepts, vocabulary, and issues that shape contemporary American politics. Students then take Political Institutions which introduces students to core political institutions both in the American and global contexts: legislatures, executives, electoral systems, economic systems, etc. Sophomore-level courses include American Political Thought, Law and Society, and Introduction to International Relations. After completing these introductory courses, students may go in a number of directions. The major requires at least four additional advanced courses from the fields of political philosophy, public law, and American politics, with at least one course from our political philosophy offerings. The major also requires two courses that build essential skills in political analysis and application: in the first course, students acquire skills in computer programing, data science, or quantitative statistical analysis, and in the second students apply these skills to do original political research and analysis. Collectively, these courses prepare students with the knowledge, judgement, and skills to meaningfully contribute as citizens of a rapidly-changing 21st-century world.


Lori Hartmann (chair), Christopher Paskewich, Weiss Mehrabi, Amoz Hor, Peter Lynch

Student Representatives

Taylor Broder, Emma Peterson, Kayla Rogers, Maggie Will, Sunni Woske

Recommended First-Year/Sophomore Preparation

Students considering a major in politics should try to take the five courses of the introductory sequence (100- and 200-level courses) during their first and second year, respectively. They will then be well-prepared for their upper-level coursework during their junior and senior years.

Politics Courses

Course Descriptions