Next Steps: How to Become a Political Science Major

As a Political Science major, you will learn how ideas shape our government, how to generate knowledge through research, and how to influence your political community by sharing what you know. 

Please note: our department is located on the third floor of Hall of Letters (the end nearest the Admin building). 


You can obtain a Declaration of Major form ONLINE from the Registrar's Office.

All our faculty are dedicated student advisors. We help you identify your interests and to explore them through potent learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. If you would like to request a specific advisor, please indicate that on the form. Otherwise, a faculty member will be assigned to you.


Review the requirements for the major (see "Degree Requirements" on this website or in the online catalog) and work out a tentative plan for the coming years by viewing the possibilities in the Self-Service area of the university website). Then meet with your advisor and communicate your general interests, aspirations, and plans to him or her, as we are brimming with ideas about how you can make the most of your education at the U of R.

Note that normally your advisor will need to give you permission to register for classes each semester after you have consulted about your schedule.


Read about some of the opportunities we make available to our students (see Opportunities, below), and seek out more on your own. Visualize what you would like to do and set goals for yourself. Internships, fellowships, study abroad classes, scholarships, and awards are well within your grasp. 

OPPORTUNITIES for Political Science Majors

If the idea of experiential learning motivates you, then take advantage of opportunities to deepen your learning through practical application, and possibly receive financial help to defray costs associated with extra-curricular activities. 

May Term Travel Courses

Political Science faculty often lead classes to global and national points of interest for in-depth learning experiences. Almost each year students can go to Washington, D.C. (full course) and Sacramento (several days), and often our faculty are teaching in Salzburg, Austria or in Africa. Please plan to attend the MAY TERM TRAVEL FAIR that is held EARLY in September. Note that scholarships for our annual Washington D.C. May Term are available. Watch your email for announcements and submit your applications ahead of time!

 ****!!!! May Term DEADLINES are in Sept. and October ****!!!!! 


Please see postings through Handshake (sign up through the Office of Career and Professional Development, OCPD), on the Poli Sci announcement board in Hall of Letters, or on our Facebook page (, or contact Renee Van Vechten ( for more information. You can earn credit for off-campus internships that are tied to academic work. 

Summer Internships and Scholarships

JERRY TINKER WASHINGTON, D.C. INTERNSHIP: (All students but especially juniors and seniors are welcome to apply) -- deadline in fall (TBA). The Tinker Scholar Program places students from the College in summer internships and provides funds to defray their costs. Inspired by Mr. Tinker’s distinguished service, the fund was established in 1993 to afford current students opportunities to experience the rich wealth of professional opportunities the Washington D.C. area has to offer. The Tinker Fund allows students to spend a summer in Washington and intern with alumni in the DC metro area. Airfare and housing costs are addressed with this award. The application process is competitive, and typically four to six interns are selected and funded (depending on available funds) on the basis of academic merit, preparedness, and interest. The application process involves submitting an application, current résumé, and a cover letter addressing your qualifications and rationale for a summer internship experience. See Dr. Greg Thorson for more details. 


U of R WGST CONFERENCE. The Women's and Gender Studies program at the University of Redlands hosts an annual conference for students in the spring (usually in March). The primary goal of this conference is to provide a forum for students to present their work in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGST). Presentations will include papers written for WGST courses, courses in other departments, and/or papers written specifically for this conference. This event is open to students, faculty, staff, and the community. Start thinking now about how you can be included in this reputable research venue.

REGIONAL POLITICAL SCIENCE CONFERENCES: In an attempt to broaden your access to the wider field of political science, our department can sponsor students to attend a local, regional, or national conference. If you intend to pursue a higher degree in academia, please ASK YOUR ADVISOR about the possibilities of accompanying a professor, co-authoring a paper, presenting a poster, or even presenting a paper on a panel. Upcoming: Association for Public Policy & Management (APPAM);  APSA Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC); Western Political Science Association (WPSA); Southwest Political Science Assn. annual conference (SWSA).

Pi Sigma Alpha hosts a regional undergraduate research conference in Washington, DC. Consider writing a paper and presenting it. Financial aid is available.

PAID FELLOWSHIPS for graduating seniors

CORO Foundation Fellowship: The Coro Foundiation in Public Affairs is a 9-month program open to recent college graduates. The purpose of the internship is to develop future community leaders through exposure to community issues, leadership development, civic leaders and organizations. This structured internship program is demanding, full time, and requires an interest in public affairs. Each intern is assigned an individual internship in each of the five sectors of business, government, labor, media, and non-profit organizations. Participants are immersed in these five internship sectors, allowing them to learn experientially and establish significant professional contacts. Source (and for more info):

CAPITAL FELLOWS: (For SENIORS only: Application process open Sept.; deadline is in February)

The nationally-recognized Capital Fellows Program is centered in Sacramento, CA, providing unparalleled opportunities to work, study, and live among policymakers. Fellows work for an Assembly member, Senate member, the Executive branch, or the courts (Judicial Administration).  While they actively engage in public service and prepare for future careers, fellows contribute to the development and implementation of public policy in California. The work commences in fall and fellows work for 10 - 11 months, receive health benefits and a monthly stipend as they are employees of Sacramento State University. They work as full-time members of a legislative, executive, or judicial branch office, and are typically given assignments with a significant amount of responsibility and challenges. Simultaneously, fellows also enroll as graduate students at Sacramento State and receive graduate units from the Sacramento State Government Department or Public Policy and Administration Program. The enrollment fees are paid by the programs. Anyone with a bachelor's degree by the start of the program in Sept. and a demonstrated interest in state government and public service is eligible to apply. There are no preferred majors. Graduate, postgraduate and mid-career applicants are welcome." The application deadline for 2020-21 will be mid-Feburary, 2020.

Seniors (or graduates) will need letters of recommendation and may apply to any of the four programs (Assembly, Senate, Executive, Judicial Administration).

Forbes Magazine has ranked this state-sponsored fellowship program #1 in the country (in 2010). See Dr. Renée Van Vechten for more information, or visit

FULBRIGHT AWARD: (Seniors only: deadline is usually end of Sept.)

The senior year Fulbright award applications are due in the office of Professor Osborn by the end of September (watch for announcements!). Fulbright offers opportunities for U.S. students to conduct research or to teach abroad for a full year, upon graduation. It is strongly recommended that interested students contact Professor Osborn and set up an appointment to review the application process:  More than 10 Redlands students have won Fulbright awards for research and teaching. Departments and programs represented include: Biology, Math, French, German, Global Business, International Relations, Music, and Johnston.

TEACH FOR AMERICA; Deadline is in early September. Go to:


ARMACOST LIBRARY UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH AWARD —submission deadline: early Spring (usually Feb. or March -- watch announcements)

Win $500! You've already produced research papers for your courses, using creative and diligent research practices to gather primary and secondary evidence to support your (hypo)theses. Share that work. For more information visit:

Seniors only: Government Dept. Annual Awards

The Coldwell Prize is awarded to the student in Political Science who has demonstrated academic excellence in the area of American politics. The Frederick John Wiley Award is given to the student who has demonstrated academic excellence in the area of International Relations. Both are awarded at the conclusion of the academic year. The award does contain a monetary award, as well as your name engraved on a plaque that's displayed in the Morlan Room.

Honor Societies

PI SIGMA ALPHA (Juniors and Seniors, by invitation) Outstanding scholarship in the field of Poli Sci is acknowledged by an invitation to join the only national political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha. See separate tab on our website for more information.

SIGMA IOTA RHO (Juniors and Seniors, by invitation). Academic excellence in the field of IR is similarly acknowledged by an invitation to join the international studies honor society, Sigma Iota Rho, which promotes and rewards scholarship and service among students and practitioners of international studies, international affairs, and global studies and fosters integrity and creativity in the conduct of world affairs. Contact the International Relations program director for more information.

Departmental Honors

The deadline for senior thesis honors proposals will be in late November.

Only students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the major are eligible for honors. Eligible students may earn departmental honors by completing a thesis or an honors portfolio. The proposal must be submitted to the department for review in the fall (TBA: watch for an email and announcements will be archived on the department's Moodle site). Upon approval a committee will be assigned and a writing schedule will be planned. If at any point the committee determines the student is not progressing adequately, thesis approval may be revoked. Honors are awarded at the discretion of the thesis/honors committee and take place after an oral examination (usually held in March). Proposals, including portfolios, will take time and revisions, so we recommend that you see your advisor immediately if you have not already discussed your intentions.

Mock Trial

The University of Redlands has been an active member of the American Mock Trial Associations (AMTA) since 1991. During these years, our teams have earned national recognition and prestige for an impressive list of top 10 and top 20 team rankings, in addition to the coveted American Mock Trial Association's Outstanding New Team Award and its Spirit award. Redlands' mock trial participants have won a remarkable number of individual outstanding attorney and witness awards. With a season stretching from August through April, including prominent invitational tournaments as well as AMTA-sponsored regional and national tournaments across the country, Redlands' team members are sovereign over captain selections, tryouts, team assignments, role responsibilities, case preparations in their entirety, tournament planning, travel arrangements and a host of related issues. See tab on our website for more information.