Political science

Political science

Central's political science program lets you benefit from professors’ expertise in areas such as American and international politics. This major is excellent preparation for graduate and law school, as well as a wide variety of careers in government, politics, law, business, mass media and education, as well as effective participation in civic and community affairs.

You'll learn about government rules and institutions, and how individuals and groups interact at local, state, national and international levels through coursework and practical experience. You'll learn to do original research and undertake civic engagement projects that allow you to connect with professionals and develop a resume of experience. Many students also take part in experiential and service-learning projects or career-focused internships in Washington, D.C., Des Moines or while studying abroad. 

Nearly 100% of grads are placed in jobs, attending graduate school or involved in volunteer service within six months of graduation
  • Many students study abroad or in Washington, D.C., through The Washington Center
  • Proximity to Des Moines = student opportunities working with state government

The Real World


Successful Careers

  • Staff and legislative assistant to Senator Tom Harkin, Washington, D.C.
  • State public defender, Des Moines
  • Owner of Link Strategies (Political Consulting Firm), Des Moines
  • Iowa State House Republican caucus secretary, Des Moines
  • Political science professor, Penn State University, University Park, Penn.
  • Political science professor, Allegheny College, Meadville, Penn.
  • Associate legislative research analyst, Office of the Tennessee Comptroller
  • Paralegal, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Houston, Texas


Political science students are active participants in a wide variety of campus activities and organizations, including Mock Trial, Student Senate, Pi Sigma Alpha (national honor society of political science), College Republicans and Young Democrats.

Stories of Vietnam

Stories of Vietnam

Students recorded interviews with Vietnam veterans for the Library of Congress – including Kenneth Quinn, now president of World Food Prize Foundation,

Read More

Graduate Placement

  • Ph.D. program at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Ph.D. program at The University of California, Riverside
  • Ph.D. program at The University of Iowa
  • Ph.D. program at The University of Arizona
  • Ph.D. program at The University of Texas, Austin
  • Ph.D. program at The University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • M.A. in public administration program at The University of Kansas
  • M.A. in public policy program at The University of Chicago
  • M.A. in public policy program at George Washington University


We will work one-on-one with you to select and apply for an internship that will complement your courses and enhance your career prospects. Students are placed in governmental and non-governmental positions at local, state and national levels in the U.S., as well as in governmental and non-governmental positions at our study abroad sites, including at the British Parliament, United Nations and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

Recent internship examples include:

  • Akerman Senterfitt, government relations department law firm, Washington, D.C.
  • British Parliament, London
  • Iowa Governor's Office, Des Moines
  • White House, Washington, D.C.
  • U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
  • Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Chicago, Ill.
  • U.S. Embassy, Santiago, Chile
  • Iowa Attorney General's office, Des Moines
  • United Nations Commission International Trade and Law, Vienna, Austria

Courses & Faculty

Political science courses prepare you for work in a variety of areas. Central offers courses in the major sub-fields of the discipline, including: American government and politics, public policy, international politics, comparative politics and research methods. 

Central's expert faculty are leaders in their fields, conducting research and authoring papers and articles that expose students to the latest scholarship. 

Learn more about political science in the course catalog.

Political science photo
Meet the faculty:
  • Andrew Green, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, interest areas include American politics and policy, political behavior, state and local politics and research methods
  • Keith Yanner, B.A., Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, interest areas include Latin America, western Europe, immigration, oral history and landscape photography
  • Jim Zaffiro, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, interest areas include international relations, African studies and global sustainability

Sample Schedule

First year
  • Introduction to American Politics
  • Introduction to International Politics
  • Core courses and electives
Sophomore year
  • Methods of Political Research
  • Major electives
  • Core courses and electives
  • Study abroad and/or career-related internships
Junior year
  • Major electives
  • Study abroad and/or career-related internships
Senior year
  • Research Seminar
  • Major electives
  • Study abroad and/or career-related internships

The Central Difference

Internships and Study Abroad

Political science students have always been among the highest participators in study abroad, gaining life-changing, career-shaping experiences through internships abroad to learn firsthand about foreign and international politics, particularly in the London Program’s Parliamentary Internships option. To learn about federal, state and local government in the U.S., internship programs are also available in Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City and Des Moines. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.


In fall 2009, the new 57,748-square-foot Roe Center opened to provide new classroom, office and instructional space for the political science, education, communication and psychology departments, along with Central’s nationally recognized community-based learning department. 

Central Political Science Students

Learn More

Want to find out more about political science at Central? Contact us to learn more about this major and our other strong academic programs. Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.