The Politics Program

The politics department at Saint Vincent College goes beyond daily political issues to examine the underlying questions of political science: What is human nature? Of what does the human life consist? How does that life relate to the city? By the end of their college journey, politics students will be able to view political issues with these questions in mind, allowing for a discerning study of politics from a holistic perspective. Our nationally renowned faculty ensures that this knowledge leads to fulfilling personal lives along with successful careers in law, government agencies, foundations and many others. 

What Can I Do With a Degree in Political Science?

The program approaches the study of politics as both philosophical reflection and analytical art. From the study of ancient, modern and contemporary sources, students are led to examine critically the ideas and events that have influenced the formation of political principles, government organization, characteristics of citizenship and social policy. 

Along with philosophical grounding, the program seeks to provide the analytical competence to understand the contemporary political environment, to address effectively public policy issues and to contribute intellectually and practically to the sociopolitical challenges of our times.

As a result, students graduating with a degree in politics or political science will be prepared both to discuss contemporary political issues and analyze them in the context of their underlying philosophical and fundamental ideas. These skills lay the ideal foundation for successful careers in law, business, nonprofit organizations, public administration, public office, international affairs and academia.

Resultspolitics-results
Distinctive features of the McKenna School Political Science Major
  • Nationally acclaimed Politics major: Named one of the strongest such programs “of any Catholic College” in the 2006 edition of All American Colleges: Top Schools for Conservatives, Old-Fashioned Liberals, and People of Faith, ISI Books.
  • Focuses on American and Western political thought: strong emphasis on America’s founding principles and institutions and classical and modern political philosophy.
  • Offers the “Aurelius Scholars in Western Civilization” program for students dedicated to completing a coherent sequence of courses in the Western liberal arts tradition, and participating in relevant cultural activities.
  • Leading sponsor of the McKenna School’s nationally known Center for Political and Economic Thought, which conducts numerous lectures and conference programs with some of the nation’s top scholars and policy experts. The Center also provides junior/senior politics and public policy majors with an opportunity to participate in its George Washington Fellowship program, a stipend sponsored research opportunity with one of our politics professors.
  • Since 2003, graduates have attended such highly ranked graduate and law schools as Harvard Law School, Ohio State Law School, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, George Mason School of Law School, Carnegie Mellon University Heinz School, Duquesne University School of Law, to name just a few.
    For 2016, graduate school placements were:
    • Ph.D. at Baylor University in Political Science, Assistantship with $28,494 tuition remission scholarship, $16,000 stipend, and annual graduate school scholarship of $5,000
    • Ph.D. at Baylor University in Political Science: $16,000 stipend and $8,000 annual     scholarship, $28,494 tuition-remission scholarship
    • Ph.D. at Northern Illinois in Politics, $12,003 stipend (which is guaranteed for the next four years) and full tuition waiver
    • M.S. Statistics, Colorado State University, M.S. in applied Statistics at Penn State University
    • M.S. Management: OE, Saint Vincent College (3 students)
    • M.A. in International Affairs, George Washington University ($1,500 scholarship per semester)
    • M.A. in International Affairs, American University, $18,000 annual tuition scholarship      
  • The Politics department sponsors a nationally competitive Mock Trial Team. The College also offers a Pre-Law Club and Law Society, which includes the involvement of alumni attorneys and judges. Students may also join Pi Sigma Alpha, the national Greek honor society of political science.
Curriculumpolitics-curriculum
B.A. in Politics and B.S. in Political Science Major Requirements

College Core (48 credits)
TH 119 First Theology (freshman year) - 3 credits
Theology (200 Level) - 3 credits
Theology (300 Level) - 3 credits
History (100 Level) - 3 credits
History (200 Level) - 3 credits
PL 101 1st Philosophy - 3 credits
Philosophy Elective (PL 215 Ethics suggested) - 3 credits
Natural Science 100 level with lab - 4 credits
Natural Science 200 level with lab - 4 credits
EL 102 Language and Rhetoric (freshman year) - 3 credits
English Elective (Literature Course) - 3 credits
English Elective - 3 credits
Fine Arts (100 Level) - 3 credits
Foreign Language Intermediate Level - 3 credits
Foreign Language Intermediate Level - 3 credits
First-Year Seminar (additional hour) - 1 credit

Major Requirements for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Politics (33 credits)
PS 100 Principles of American Politics - 3 credits
PS 135 Classical Political Thought - 3 credits
PS 136 Modern Political Thought - 3 credits
PS 242 International Politics 
     or PS 343 Comparative Politics - 3 credits
PS 290 Institutions - 3 credits
PS 336 American Political Thought - 3 credits
PS 339 Constitutional Law: National Powers 
     or PS 369 Constitutional Law: Civil Rights and Liberties - 3 credits
PS 345 Domestic Public Policy - 3 credits
PS 480 Senior Thesis - 3 credits
Politics electives (Any PS class except PS 550) - 6 credits

Major Requirements for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science (41 credits) 
PS 100 Principles of American Politics - 3 credits
PS 135 Classical Political Thought - 3 credits
PS 136 Modern Political Thought - 3 credits
PS 242 International Politics
     or PS 343 Comparative Politics - 3 credits
PS 290 Institutions - 3 credits
PS 336 American Political Thought - 3 credits
PS 339 Constitutional Law: National Powers
     or PS 369 Constitutional Law: Civil Rights and Liberties - 3 credits
PS 345 Domestic Public Policy - 3 credits
PS 480 Senior Thesis - 3 credits
Politics elective (Any PS class except PS 550) - 3 credits
BA 350 Statistics I and BA 350A Excel Lab - 4 credits
BA 351 Statistics II and BA 351A Excel Lab - 4 credits 
   or EC 360 Econometrics - 3 credits  
MA 109/111 Calculus I - 4 credits 

Graduate Study
Candidates for the B.A. or B.S. degree who plan to pursue a Ph.D. in politics, government or political science generally will have to show competence in one or two foreign languages as well as quantitative skills. We suggest that students contemplating such graduate studies consider taking foreign language courses beyond the intermediate level. The quantitative skills requirement for graduate school varies.

Public Affairs and Public Administration
For those seeking master’s degrees in public policy and public administration, it would be advantageous to complete BA 100, BA 101, EC 201, EC 202, BA 350 and EC 360. Students should have further discussions with their advisers.

International Affairs 
For those seeking master’s degrees in international relations or allied fields, it would be advantageous to pursue two foreign languages and to complete EC 201, EC 202, BA 350, EC 360, EC 351 and EC 353.

Pre-law concentration: students in either the B.A. or B.S. tracks are advised to take both PS 339 and PS 369.

Requirements for a Minor in Politics  (18 credits)
PS 100 Principles of American Politics - 3 credits
PS 135 Classical Political Thought or
     PS 136 Modern Political Thought - 3 credits
PS 290 Institutions - 3 credits
PS 336 American Political Thought - 3 credits 
PS 339 Constitutional Law: National Powers or
     PS 369 Constitutional Law: Civil Rights and Liberties - 3 credits
PS 345 Domestic Public Policy - 3 credits  

Variations from above are possible with permission of the Chair of the Politics department. A student may choose, with the departmental adviser and with the consent of the Chair, a program designed to meet individual objectives.

Student Work and Researchpolitics-student-work
Student Work and Research in Political Science

Part of the politics major is a comprehensive thesis that tests each student’s understanding of political issues and their underlying philosophical currents. Recent examples of student theses and George Washington Fellows' topics include:

  • An Analysis of the Capital Cases in Southwestern Pennsylvania
  • Democracy and Human Greatness
  • Freedom is Not Enough: Affirmative Action and the Colorblind Constitution
  • Good Behavior: Restoring Accountability to an Independent Judiciary
  • How High is the Wall? James Madison and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State
  • “Indispensable Supports”: Religion in the Public Square from the Late Colonial Period to the Civil War
  • Liberty of Conscience: The Search for True Religious Liberty
  • Resurrection Outside of Calvary: Whittaker Chambers’ Influence on American Political Thought.
The Departmentpolitics-department
The Department

Brad Watson Teaching ClassThe Politics has been a subject of study from ancient Greece to the present day. For Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the word politics referred to the activities of the city, the polis. The city, Aristotle taught, is that association that allows a complete human life to be lived. But not every activity of the city promotes the complete human life, or happiness in a comprehensive sense. Political science, originally understood, was the study of the city’s activities in order to understand which modes of political organization were best suited to promoting human happiness.

The Politics Department at Saint Vincent College is unique in the extent to which it promotes an understanding of the nature of political phenomena and their relationship to a life not simply lived, but lived well. To this end, the Department offers a curriculum firmly rooted in the Great Books of Western civilization and the great political writings of the American tradition. Along with philosophical grounding, the program seeks to provide analytical competence to understand the contemporary political environment, to address public policy questions and to contribute intellectually and practically to the sociopolitical challenges of our times. 

The department encourages students to see politics whole, recognizing the intimate relationship that exists between wisdom gained through philosophical inquiry, and political knowledge gained through empirical and analytical research. The department thus helps to fulfill the liberal arts mission of the college. It also takes seriously its obligation to provide civic education: to cultivate the well-educated citizens and scholars who are essential to the long-term flourishing of a constitutional republic.

Departmental Activitiespolitics-department-activities
Departmental Activities

Depending on their interest and initiative, students are encouraged to join activities such as the Pizza and Politics Club, Pre-Law Club, the Mock Trial Team, the Republican Club and the Democrat Club. 

Politics Department ActivitiesThe SVC Mock Trial team is quickly becoming nationally recognized - it competes against and has defeated numerous nationally competitive teams. Students in the Mock Trial team enjoy the camaraderie of their peers while also gaining valuable experience for future careers in law and politics.

Politics majors may also join Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society and our Aurelius Scholars in Western Civilization.

Other recommended activities include attending relevant lectures and conferences sponsored by the Center for Political and Economic Thought. These lectures serve to broaden the understanding of current and past political issues and offer a great networking opportunity.


Aurelius Scholars in Western Civilizationpolitics-aurelius-scholars
Aurelius Scholars in Western Civilization

The Aurelius Scholars in Western CivilizatioDr. Jividen Teaches Classn is a program offered to motivated students interested in the intellectual heritage of Western civilization. It is open to all majors and minors in the McKenna School and to students considering a major or minor in the McKenna School. It should be of particular interest to students in the Politics Department.

Aurelius Scholars are committed to taking a coherent sequence of courses in the Western educational tradition. The Aurelius sequence is designed to satisfy the college Core Curriculum in selected disciplines. Interested students should contact the Aurelius Scholars program director, Dr. Jason R. Jividen.

Internships and Careers in Political Science

Internships enable our students to take their knowledge and skills into a professional environment. Our faculty actively encourages and helps students find internships to gain valuable practical experience.

In recent years, our students have interned at places such as the Charles Koch Foundation in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Department of Commerce in Germany, with Federal Judge William Baughman, with numerous state and federal senators and representatives, with the Westmoreland County public defenders, with several law firms and many more.

Thanks to the combination of class work and internships, graduates with a degree in Politics go on to successful professional careers. Our graduates can expect:

Great Law Placements! Recent graduates (27.8% from 1997 to 2016) have gone on to such institutions as:

  • Harvard Law School 
  • University of Pittsburgh Law School
  • Ava Maria Law School, 
  • George Mason Law School
  • Catholic University of America Law School
  • Duquesne University Law School
  • Ohio Northern University School of Law
  • Ohio State University Law School
  • Washington University (in St. Louis) Law School
  • Drexel University School of Law
  • Seton Hall School of Law
  • Thomas Cooley School of Law, Michigan
  • West Virginia University School of Law
  • University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
  • Lewis and Clark Law School
  • University of Akron School of Law
  • Villanova University Law School
  • University of Georgia Law School
  • Washington & Lee School of Law
  • University of Richmond School of Law

Graduate School Placements (approximately 26.7% of graduates): 

  • Ph.D. at Catholic University 
  • Ph.D. Claremont Graduate University 
  • Ph.D. at University at Albany 
  • Ph.D. at Northern Illinois University 
  • Ph.D. at Baylor University 
  • M.S. at St. Johns College 
  • MPIA and GSPIA at University of Pittsburgh 
  • M.Div. at Regent University School of Divinity 
  • George Mason University Public Policy School 
  • M.A. in Theology at Villanova University 
  • Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School 
  • M.A. in Legal Studies at California University 
  • M.A. at University of Toronto 
  • M.A. in Trans-Atlantic Studies at Jagiellonian University in Poland 
  • M.S. in International Business at Humboldt University in Germany 
  • M.A. in International Affairs at George Washington University 
  • M.A. in International Affairs at American University 
  • M.S. at University of Pennsylvania 
  • Regent University School of Divinity 
  • M.A. at Indiana University, Bloomington, School of Public Affairs 
  • London School of Economics and Public Affairs

Job Placements (approximately 23.7% of graduates seek jobs):

  • Foundation for Economic Education
  • AT&T
  • Marines OTC
  • Performance Learning Center in New Jersey
  • RGS
  • Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction
  • Legislative aides
  • UPMC
  • Tremba, Jelley & Kinney, LLC
  • C&G Bank
  • Piedmont Immigration Law
  • Somerset Trust Company
  • Reynolds American
  • SDLC Partners, LP
  • Professional Basketball
  • Bayer Corporation
  • Republican Party of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. Food & Drug Administration
  • United States Armed Forces
  • Microstrategy
  • Learning Objectives

    Politics courses are designed to promote the following learning objectives:

    • To present, engage and understand the fundamental ideas that have shaped political life, particularly the political life of Western civilization. These ideas often conflict with one another, and are best approached at their source, namely through the Great Books. 
    • To promote patriotic yet analytical citizenship through a close study of the American regime. Courses concentrate on the principles, institutions and policies under which Americans have lived. A distinctive feature of the Department is its emphasis on American political thought, which requires close study of the principles of the American founding, as well as competing principles. 
    • To provide students an education in the liberal arts; that is to say, those arts particularly conducive to the cultivation of free citizens, and essential to political life in a republic. This includes the abilities and dispositions necessary to engage in public discussions on a variety of topics, both orally and in writing.
      Such abilities and dispositions include civility and respect for one’s interlocutors, analytical tools for assessing arguments and rhetorical skills to present persuasively one’s own views. Responsible use of any education or ability is essential; the Department therefore does not divorce politics from ethics. 
    • To prepare students for a variety of careers and professions after graduation, including in law, business, nonprofit organizations, public administration, public office, international affairs, and academia. The Department thus takes an active role in helping students prepare for graduate and professional schools. The Department also actively assists students in finding internships and related experience.