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Department of Political Science

  • Students sitting at tables outside in the fall sun


The Department of Political Science is a popular and comfortable home for more than 800 undergraduate majors who choose one of two degree programs, political science or international studies. Both of these majors allow you to tailor your focus to fields of inquiry that may interest you, from American politics to environmental studies.

B.A. in Political Science

Students obtaining the B.A. in political science receive broad exposure to the discipline, selecting courses from fields such as American politics, comparative politics, international relations, public administration and policy, and political theory, while also developing one or two individualized areas of interest. 


B.A. in International Studies

The B.A. in international studies emphasizes the interdisciplinary pursuit of comparative and/or international politics, allowing students to tailor their programs of study to focus on such topics as foreign policy, global economic or environmental studies, or international conflict and cooperation.



The department also offers two popular and very flexible minors in political science and international studies. Our department also houses the leadership studies minor. The minor prepares students for a lifelong process of leadership development and action. Grounded in a rigorous and multidisciplinary course of study, the minor introduces students to a range of perspectives and models of leadership. These diverse approaches are unified by the goal of providing knowledge and skills that can assist students in promoting positive social change. Academic leadership training combined with the practice of leadership through the myriad of opportunities available at the university provides the foundation for successful leadership development.


Honor Societies

Our majors are encouraged to work with faculty outside as well as inside the classroom. Students have the opportunity to study abroad, take on an internship, engage with leadership opportunities, and participate in research on campus. They can also participate in departmental and university organizations and activities.

Pi Sigma Alpha is the national honor society for political science, with over 700 chapters located on college and university campuses throughout the United States. USC’s Gamma Chi chapter was founded in 1959, and welcomes into membership those students demonstrating exceptional academic work in political science.

The Gamma Chi chapter accepts applications for membership in the spring semester of each academic year. Membership is based on the following requirements:

  • A student must have completed 10 hours of course work in political science (including at least one upper division course) and be a junior or senior (60 credit hours earned) at the time of application.
  • The potential member must have a GPA of at least 3.5 in his or political science courses, and an overall GPA of at least 3.5.
  • A onetime (lifetime) membership fee of $40 is required. Accepted students will receive a membership certificate, an attractive Pi Sigma Alpha lapel pin, and the opportunity to participate in local chapter activities and governance as well as national office offerings.

Chapter Advisor: Dr. Doug Thompson

Sigma Iota Rho is an interdisciplinary international relations honor society dedicated to recognizing and promoting academic excellence in the field of international studies.  Founded in 1983 by Dean William Olsen of American University, its purpose is to promote and reward scholarship and service among students and practitioners of international relations and global studies, to foster integrity, creative performance and knowledge in the conduct of international affairs. With over 130 chapters, the Beta Chapter at the University of South Carolina, housed in the Department of Political Science, was the second chapter to be formed.

To be eligible for membership, a student must:

  • Be entering their junior or senior undergraduate year.
  • Have completed at least 18 hours of course work with an international focus (these need not be solely political science courses).
  • Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3, with a 3.5 GPA in courses with an international focus.
  • Pay a $45 membership fee.

Accepted students will receive a membership certificate, a Sigma Iota Rho lapel pin and tassel.

Chapter Advisor: Dr. Katherine Barbieri

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