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Department of Political Science

  • Maxcy Monument bathed in sunlight on the Horseshoe

Research & Fields of Inquiry

Our research employs cutting-edge methodology, appears in the leading university presses and political science journals, and has been supported by an array of major funding agencies. Moreover, ours is a collaborative environment - leveraging synergies across the major subfields and actively engaging students in the research enterprise.

Research Focus

Our faculty is recognized for its innovative research in political science and is the home of leading scholars in many subfields. The faculty’s interests run the gamut from American politics to comparative politics and international relations to political theory, public law, and public policy. Additions to the faculty in recent years have brought to the department a cohort of young, productive scholars who are producing exemplary work.

Our faculty members value asking big-picture theoretical questions that address major issues and employ an innovative blend of methodological approaches with which to enrich their research and teaching. The department boasts specialists in Bayesian statistics, spatial analysis, qualitative methods, causal inference, and field experiments, and in recent years our faculty have produced new insights into topics as varied as:

  • the rule of law and the sources and challenges of failed, democratizing, and democratic states 
  • the role of geography in such political phenomena as voting and international conflict
  • the causes and effects of social movements and collective action across the globe
  • the sources and effects of variations in public policies across national states and nation-states
  • the contemporary value of Aristotle’s politics, and the role of culture in political values

The department is heavily invested in collaborative research, and scholars frequently pursue projects with their undergraduate and especially graduate students.  The fruits of these efforts have resulted in numerous publications in the best journals of the discipline and in books and book chapters published by prestigious university and private presses.


Fields of Inquiry

Graduate students focus their curricula on their chosen fields of inquiry, which dictate the courses they take and the research they produce while at USC. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.