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Political Science

Political Science is built on the core aspects of the great liberal arts tradition. Our strengths are logic, appropriate data, analysis and communication. Explaining the outcomes of political processes and events involves developing theories, using scientific methods to gather relevant evidence and test those theories and then using strong communications skills to explain the research. Honing these skills, and learning the knowledge that is shared in our classes, prepares graduates of our department for careers in law, politics, government, the military, academia, private enterprise and nonprofit service.

American Politics examines questions related to the activities of all the branches of the federal government (legislative, judicial, executive), as well as all the levels of government (local, state and federal).

Comparative Politics examines the differences between states. Why do some states achieve high levels of economic growth while others fall behind? Does the process used to seek justice after conflicts have an influence on whether people think justice was achieved? In short, why do similar states turn out very differently (and why do different states turn out similarly)?

International Politics is about the interactions that states have with each other. From overlooked but critical activity like international trade and finance, to rarer and more violent interactions like war and coercion, this part of political science seeks to understand the forces that cause states to behave like they do to each other.

Political Theory examines the moral and ethical questions surrounding politics. What is the best form of government? What is justice? What are the moral reasons for us to prefer democracy to other forms of government? This part of political science has links to philosophy, and asks similar questions, just with a directly political focus.

Career Profile

Upon completing the Ph.D. program, many of our graduates have assumed tenure track positions at colleges and universities, including the University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia Wesleyan University, Longwood University, Monmouth University and Wright State University. In addition, Ph.D. and M.A. students have assumed positions in government agencies and nonprofit institutions, such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Foreign Service in the U.S. Department of State, upon completion of their degrees.

Program Application Requirements

Statement of Purpose, 3 Letters of recommendation, Supplemental Application / Portfolio

Additional Application Information

Supplemental Application

Program Application Test Requirements


Application Deadlines

Fall Deadline

January 15

Spring Deadline


Summer Deadline


English Proficiency Requirements

All applicants whose first language is not English must provide proof of English language proficiency. WVU accepts either the TOEFL or the IELTS for this purpose. Learn more about our English language proficiency requirements.

Accreditation Information

WVU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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