Political Science Program Requirements

These requirements are from an excerpt from the University Academic Catalog, which outlines the requirements for a student to earn the distinction of being a Castleton University graduate. The complete catalog is available online.

Upon completion of the Political Science major, students will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  1. The basic analytical concepts and theories of the discipline of Political Science.
  2. The institutions of American politics and government and how they function.
  3. American political culture and political behavior.
  4. The political systems of other nations, including their political institutions, processes, culture, and behavior.
  5. Global politics, international institutions, and global issues.
  6. Political philosophies, theories, and ideologies and their significance to political life.
  7. The skills and methodologies appropriate for research in Political Science.

Required Courses:

All majors must complete a minimum of 48 credits: 39 credits in Political Science and 9 credits from related disciplines. The 39 credits in Political Science must include:

Code Course Credits

POS 1020

American Politics and Government

Various approaches to the study of politics and some of its fundamental issues, such as the authority and function of the state, the rights of the individual and the pursuit of justice, equality, life, liberty, and happiness. Emphasis on American politics and government.

This course fulfills the Social and Behavioral Understanding Frame of Reference.

Every semester


POS 1030

Comparative Politics and Government

An introduction to the study of politics by comparing different types of political regimes, with particular attention to the politics and daily lives of their peoples.

This course fulfills the Social and Behavioral Understanding Frame of Reference.

Every semester


POS 2040

International Relations

An examination of relations between the nations and peoples of the world, with attention to the various theoretical attempts to make sense of international relations; conflicting interpretations of the modern nation-state system; the post World War II world; East-West conflict, North-South conflict; the causes of war; and the search for global and economic order.

This course fulfills the Social and Behavioral Understanding Frame of Reference.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above or consent of instructor.



POS 2510

Research Methods

This course provides students with a broad understanding of how research is conducted in social science disciplines, focusing on the discipline of Political Science. Students will become aware of a wide array of research tools available to address questions in the study of politics and government. More importantly, they will learn how to select the appropriate research tools based on the nature of the research question being addressed. The course begins with the study of how to frame research questions, formulate hypotheses, and then test hypotheses. Next, we explore the nature of data (quantitative and qualitative) and approaches in the rigorous collection of data. We also review many existing data sources for secondary analysis.

Fall, even years


POS 3221

Political Philosophy I

What is justice? the good life? and how can one live a good life? These are among the many questions raised by this course which is taught in a seminar format that encourages student participation, leadership and discussion. Plato's Republic is the main text that is read as a way of contrasting classical and modern political philosophies and seeing with fresh eyes the present human condition and the many questions and problems it poses.

This course fulfills the World Views Frame of Reference.

Fall, odd years


POS 3222

Political Philosophy II

The study of modern political thinkers such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Mill and Marx, in order to understand their influence on current perceptions of the human condition. Attention will also be given to the fundamental disagreement between modern and classical political philosophies as a way by which new perspectives on current political issues may be reached.

This course fulfills the World Views Frame of Reference.

Spring, even years


POS 3420

Congress and The Presidency

This course is an in-depth exploration of the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government. The course is composed of three parts. The first part explores the general makeup and processes of Congress, the rules and committee structures of each chamber, and how committee rule and party organization shape the work of the chambers. The second part of the course explores the organization of the White House, the Cabinet, and the executive bureaucracy. Lastly, we explore how Congress and the President cooperate and compete in social policy, economic policy, and national security. In this exploration, the course highlights the policy preferences, ideological goals, political ramifications, and power motivations that shape cooperation and competition among the two branches in the course of governing.

Fall, odd years


POS 3510

Quantitative Analysis

(note that MAT 2021 - Statistics I is a prerequisite for POS 3510)

This course provides students with the knowledge and skills to conduct quantitative research in Political Science. Students will work with SPSS software to perform data analysis, learning how to produce and interpret statistical procedures. The scope of the class proceeds from understanding variability in frequency distributions and measures of central tendency to multi-variate and logistic regression analysis.

Prerequisite: POS 2510 and MAT 2021

Spring, odd years


POS 4610

Senior Seminar in Political Science

  • and 9 credits in the related disciplines of Economics, Environmental Studies, Geography, Global Studies and/or History 9 cr

This research seminar allows students to develop and complete a research project in Political Science that evidences appropriate methodology and substantive knowledge. The completed project will be presented in both oral and written form.

Prerequisite: POS 3510 - Quantitative Analysis.



(Credits required for the major: 48 cr)

And complete the University's Gen Ed requirements

Click here for General Education Requirements.

Law Degree (CU/VLS 3+2)

This major participates in the 3+2 program with Vermont Law School, in which highly-focused students can earn a Bachelor's degree in just three years at CU and a Juris Doctor (JD) degree in just two years at VLS.

For details, see the Law Degree page.