Political Science at Nebraska

Political Science is the study of who gets what, when, and how.


UNL Political Science Fields Of Study
American Government, Politics and Law examines national, state, and local government
Foreign and Comparative Government explores how countries other than the United States govern themselves
International Relations addresses problems arising when nations interact with each other
Political Theory treats the fundamental issues of how states should organize and justify themselves
Public Policy and Administration examines public organizations and how they make decisions (administration) and explores specific issues and the political process that shapes, molds, and enacts policy preferences into law (public policy).
Biology, Psychology, and Politics
explores the role of biology and psychology in people's political attitudes and behaviors


The Major

To declare a Political Science major, go to the College of Arts & Sciences Advising Center in 107 Oldfather Hall.

Thirty (30) hours including:

  • POLS 100 (Power and Politics in America) or POLS 100H (denoting honors)
  • One of the following from the political theory field of study: POLS 108, 380, 383, 384 or 385
  • POLS 160 (International Relations) or POLS 160H (denoting honors)
  • POLS 400 (the senior-level capstone course)
  • Six (6) hours from three of the following areas of study: American government, politics and law; foreign and comparative government; international relations; political theory; public administration and public policy; biology, psychology, and politics.
  • At least nine (9) hours at the 400 level

Students may not take courses in the major pass/no pass except POLS 395 (internship).

Majors in political science and related disciplines may also pursue a certificate in public policy analysis which includes work in a number of programs and disciplines and is particularly well suited for students interested in working for government or a specific policy field.


The Minor

  • A Plan A minor in political science requires eighteen (18) hours including POLS 100 and one course at the 400 level

Senior Check

If you have earned 85 or more credits, please make arrangements for a "senior check" with Linda Pence in 109 Canfield. The review insures that you have completed the necessary requirements to graduate.


Internships in Political Science


As Lincoln is the seat of state government, students have an opportunity to observe government in action. Political Science has a vibrant internship program where students may intern with the state legislature, the governors office, and other agencies of state government.

An internship with a government agency, office holder, political party, interest group or other organization active in politics can provide students with a very practical look at the world of politics and link it to an academic exercise supervised by a faculty member. Internships also provide potential career opportunities.

Student are free, subject to approval, to setup their own internship or work with the Student Employment and Internship Center in setting one up. The Center maintains a listing of available internships and how to apply.

Students generally meet at the start of the semester where they are assigned a faculty member who will oversee the internship and develop an academic component. Internships with the Unicameral as a senate page are also available through the Department.

Internships are also available with local interest groups, non-profit agencies, corporations, and political parties. Some internships are available in Washington and some overseas. Such experiences occasionally lead to career positions as students return to the agencies where they interned as undergraduates.

Internships can be used for credit through POLS 395 by working with an adviser (contact Tyler White.) 

The following are a list of resources and internships available to students:

When searching for an internship, a great place to begin is Husker Hire Link from UNL Career Services.  This program provides a connection between students and alumni and potential employers.

McKelvie Scholarships

McKelvie Scholarships are open to Midwest undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers in government. The purpose is to promote and strengthen public service leadership in the public sector. Applicants will be judged on their scholarship and academic standing; evidence of commitment to a public service career, reflected in past, current and/or anticipated future government employments and/or an internship with a public/government agency. In addition to the application form, applicants must submit transcripts of all academic work, a resume, and two letters of support. Ten to fifteen scholarships ranging up to $2,000 are awarded each year. All application materials are to be sent ONLINE ONLY, by April 1st, to David Csontos: dcsontos2@unl.edu. 

Application deadline is April 1. Download in Word or PDF format

John Jay Douglass Scholarships

John Jay Douglass Scholarships are open to UNL undergraduate political science majors, sophomores and above, with demonstrated academic merit. In addition to the application form, applicants must submit transcripts of all academic work, a letter of recommendation from a faculty member in political science, and an essay of no more than two pages on Why I Deserve a Scholarship in Political Science. Two scholarships of $500 are awarded each year. All application materials are to be sent ONLINE ONLY, by April 1st, to David Csontos: dcsontos2@unl.edu. 

Application deadline is April 1. Download in Word or PDF format

Libby Swanson Jacobs Scholarship

The Libby Swanson Jacobs Scholarship is open to UNL undergraduate political science majors, juniors and above, who have an outstanding academic record and extraordinary involvement in campus and/or community organizations and activities. Preference will be given to students demonstrating financial need. In addition to the application form, applicants must submit transcripts of all academic work, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. All application materials are to be sent ONLINE ONLY, by April 1st, to David Csontos: dcsontos2@unl.edu. 

Application deadline is April 1. Download in Word or PDF format

Send applications materials to:

UNL Political Science Department
511 Oldfather Hall
P.O. Box 880328
Lincoln, NE 68588-0328

Or e-mail to: dcsontos2@unl.edu, attention: Scholarship Committee

The University of Nebraska - Lincoln does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.

Honors Program

Formal application is required for the University Honors Program.  For more information on the application or requirements, visit the Honors Program website here

However, UNL hosts a vibrant chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society. Students with high GPAs and excellent performance in their political science courses are invited to join, and they organize events about issues of campus, local, state, and national importance each year. In 2012, PSA hosted a "meet and greet" with U.S. Senate candidate Deb Fischer. 

For more information, visit their website here, or email Professor Sergio Wals at swals2@unl.edu

Honors courses

The department of Political Science offeres the following honors courses:

100H-Power and Politics in America (3 cr) 

160H-International Relations (3 cr) 
189H-University Honors Seminar (3 cr)

Prereq: Good standing in the University Honors Program or by invitation.
A University Honors Seminar 189H is required of all students
in the University Honors Program. Topics vary by instructor.

395H-Seminars (topic varies by instructor)
399H-Honors: Individual Research 

Prereq: Permission.
Open to candidates for degrees with distinction, with high distinction, and with highest distinction in the College of Arts and Sciences.

In addition, any political science course can be applied to honors credit pending approval and arrangement by the instructor. In recent years, the following courses have been contracted for honors credit:

100-Power and Politics in America
160-International Relations
227-The Presidency
230-Elections, Political Parties, and Special Interests
238-Blacks and the American Political System
250-Genetics, Behavior, and Politics
260-Problems in International Relations
261-Conflict and Conflict Resolution
345-Courts, Judges, and Lawyers
347-Myths and Realities of the Justice System
361-The United Nations and World Politics
362-Globalization, Human Rights, and Diversity
430-Political Communication
441-Constitutional Law
442-Civil Liberties: Freedom of Expression and Conviction
443- Civil Liberties: Issues of Fairness and Equality
470-International Human Rights


The Political Science faculty at UNL are noted for excellence in teaching. Ten faculty have won college or university teaching awards. Many faculty work with undergraduate students in research.

Faculty Teaching Awards

  • Dr. Ari Kohen-College Distinguished Teaching Award (2011)

Faculty/Undergraduate Research

  • Professor Hillebrecht is a UCARE advisor for two students and has been the advisor for two Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Undergraduate Research Fellows


Recognized Student Organizations

Student Achievements

            The Political Science Department is proud of our major scholarship winners. The department has had the most winners of any department on campus. The following political science majors or minors have won prestigious national scholarships in recent years:

 Fulbright Scholarship:

            Lindsey Andersen (2012)

            Cori Curtis (2011)

            Laura Roost (2011)

            Karalyn Brown (2010)

            Kevin Healy (2010)

            Rachael Strong (2010)

            Noushan Noureddini (2007)

 Truman Scholarship:

            Emily Schlichting (2011)

 Marshall Scholarship:

            Zach Smith (2011)

 Critical Language Scholarship:

            Zach Smith (2012)

 Boren Award:

            Elena Shomos (2011)

            Zach Smith (2010)

            Kevin Healy (2007)

Udall Scholarship:
             Alex Mallory (2014)
       Each year the Political Science Department chooses one or two graduating senior majors as winners of the department’s Outstanding Undergraduate Award. The following students have won this award in recent awards:

            Lane Carr (2012)

            Ben Kantack (2012)

            Nicole Starkey (2011)

            Emily Tunink (2011)

            Rhianna Needham (2010)

            Brian Schreck (2010)

            Adam Morfeld (2009)

            Collin Paschall (2009)

            Bub Windle (2008)

            Amanda Buell (2007)

Study Abroad 

The Political Science faculty at UNL are noted for excellence in teaching. Ten faculty have won college or university teaching awards. Many faculty work with undergraduate students in research.

Study Abroad in Political Science

Studying abroad is a great way to earn academic credit, see the world, and meet interesting people. Students may participate in one of UNL's study abroad programs, or they may simply enroll in a foreign university.

In recent years, political science students have studied in the following countries:

  • Bulgaria
  • China
  • Costa Rica
  • England (at Oxford University)
  • India
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Latvia
  • Romania
  • Spain
  • Ukrane

Political Science students have also participated in the "Semester at Sea" program. In addition, department faculty have taken small groups of students to China and Viet Nam for short-term study abroad.

For semester- or year-long study abroad, students can take courses on foreign governments and politics, especially of the host country, or courses on international relations that count toward their political science major. The department will work with you to arrange courses and transfer credits from these universities.

If you're interested in studying abroad, visit Education Abroad at UNL. Then see the Political Science adviser to identify Political Science courses at the foreign university you're applying to. The adviser will match these courses to UNL courses and arrange for you to get UNL credit for them.

Research Opportunities

Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience (UCARE) Program Participation in Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience (UCARE) provides undergraduates an opportunity to engage in research under the supervision of a faculty mentor. In year one, students work with a faculty member on his/her research, and in year two, launch a project of their own. The program offers students a rare opportunity to work closely with faculty as well as observe by doing what it is political scientists do. 

In addition to being award winning teachers, faculty in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are engaged in cutting-edge research. After taking a class in political science, many of our undergraduates express interest in learning more about how political science research is conducted. The Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience (UCARE) Program offers our undergraduates an unprecedented opportunity to engage in hands-on political science research under the supervision of a faculty mentor. In year one, students work with a faculty member on his/her research, and in year two, launch a project of their own. This experience has been particularly valuable for our students interested in pursuing graduate studies.  

Here’s what recent UCARE participants have had to say about their research projects. To learn more about each project, click on the student’s name.

  • “Doing research through UCARE has given me the opportunity to learn more about a topic and field that really interest me. I have been able to connect what I'm learning about through UCARE with my course work. UCARE has also helped me develop better research skills and build a closer relationship with my professor.” – Margo Berends
  •  “Working with Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Wals on this project has been an absolute blast and the best part of my senior year. Participating in UCARE has challenged me intellectually, helped me hone my research and analytical skills, and prepared me for grad school more than I ever thought it could.”  – Ben Kantack
  • “Working with the Human and Social Dynamics Study on a UCARE grant has allowed me a one-of-a-kind experience in interdisciplinary research.  The arc of my academic career will always be shaped by this experience.” – Thomas Zimmer

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is my advisor?

The advisor for political science is Tyler White in 514 Oldfather Hall. To find an advisor for another Arts & Sciences major, click here.

How do I make an appointment with my advisor?

Use the MyPLAN tool on Blackboard to schedule an appointment with your advisor. A step-by-step guide to using MyPLAN can be found here

What can my advisor do?

Your advisor can help you understand, plan, and progress towards your degree, as well as decide what classes are right for your plan. They can also answer questions regarding degree requirements, study abroad, or internships, or just be a resource for any other political science questions you might have.

What is the Undergraduate Bulletin?

The Undergraduate Bulletin, which you can find here, allows you to look at specific course information along with major requirements. 

What is the Degree Audit?

Your Degree Audit is a computer generated document that shows you how much progress you've made on college and major/minor requirements once you've declared them. It's found through MyRed by going to Records, and then Degree Audit on the right-hand side. You can find a quick guide here, and more thorough information here.

How do I graduate with distinction from the College of Arts & Sciences?

For information on graduating with distinction, visit the Arts & Sciences website here.

Where do I find Arts & Sciences forms?

You can either visit the Arts & Sciences Advising website here, or use the following links.
ACE Courses for Fall 14
Blank 4-Year Plan for Bachelor of Arts
Blank 4-Year Plan for Bachelor of Sciences
Request for Waiver
Substitution for ACE or CDR
Substitution for Major/Minor
Credit Hour Override
Time Management Planning Schedule

Where can I find Honors Program forms?

To find forms for the Honors Program, you can either visit their website here, or use the following links.
Statement of Academic Interest. Sign in using the same information that you use to sign into Blackboard, click on Submit Forms, and choose the Statement of Academic Interest. Due at the end of your 4th semester of study. 
Thesis/Creative Project ProspectusDue at the end of your 6th semester of study. 
Honors Thesis/Creative Project Completion. Due before handing in your final project. 
Honors Contract Form. Due by the 6th week of the semester (3rd week for summer classes).

Advising & Contact Information

Tyler White
Undergraduate Advisor

Tyler White
514 Oldfather Hall

If you have any questions regarding classes, requirements, internships, or just wish to talk about political science, please feel free to stop by my office.

Department of Political Science

511 Oldfather Hall
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0328
E-Mail: hsexton2@unl.edu

Chair of Undergraduate Studies

John Gruhl

UNL Admissions Office

1410 Q St.
PO Box 880417
Lincoln, NE 68588-0417
Information 402-472-2023
(800) 742-8800 (toll free)