Political science explores questions about power: what it is, where it comes from, who exercises it, how it is used and legitimized. Concretely, political scientists study the processes, policies and institutions of different political systems as well as critical issues such as health care policy, civil rights, the origins of wars, the nature of democracy, the causes of authoritarianism, the meaning of justice, and the genesis of terrorism.

In accordance with the mission of Barnard College, the political science department aims to create a community of teachers and students committed to intellectual discovery, rigorous analysis, and independent thought. The department's courses emphasize reflection, discussion, deliberation and intensive interactions between faculty members and students. The Barnard political science department strives to help students think clearly and methodically about the questions and issues that make up political science, equip them with the intellectual and presentational skills necessary to understand and address practical political issues as well as prepare them for a wide range of careers in federal, state and local governments; law; business; international organizations; nonprofit associations and organizations; campaign management and polling; journalism; pre-collegiate education; electoral politics; research and university and college teaching.


The study of the conceptual foundations of political systems and behavior.
Student learning outcome:
After completing one or more courses in Political Theory, students should have a familiarity with some of the key concepts, theories and debates that have defined thinking about politics over time.

The study of all aspects of the American political system, including its development, institutions, procedures, and actors.
Student learning outcome:
After completing one or more courses in American Government & Politics, students should understand the basic structure of the American political system and how some of its institutions, procedures, and actors function.

The study of the political systems of other countries and regions, including the use of comparisons across cases in order to gain a broader and deeper understanding of events, institutions, and processes.
Student learning outcome:
After completing one or more courses in Comparative Politics, students should have a familiarity with the political systems of other countries and regions, and be able to use comparisons across cases in order to gain a broader and deeper understanding of political events, institutions, and processes.

The study of relations between countries and the dynamics and development of the international system.
Student learning outcome:
After completing one or more courses in International Relations, students should understand the key approaches to the study of the relations between countries and a familiarity with the basic dynamics and development of the international system.

Student Learning Outcomes for the Political Science Major

Upon completion of the Barnard Political Science major, students should:

  1. Be able to analyze, speak and write about the subject matter and major theories of at least three of the four subfields of political science;
  2. Be able to apply social scientific reasoning and theories to the analysis of a wide range of political issues and problems;
  3. Be able to generate and test hypotheses about political processes, relationships and institutions or engage in conceptual analysis and interpretation of political ideas, arguments, and phenomena;
  4. Be able to complete independent research projects in political science, particularly via the capstone senior project.


Students interested in public careers should consider the five-year joint-degree programs at Sciences Po, France, and at Columbia University's School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA).

  • Students interested in the Sciences Po–Barnard exchange program are encouraged to consult the Study-Abroad website for instructions on how to request pre-approval for your courses abroad. Students may also wish to contact the political science department regarding aspects of this BA/MA program.
  • The SIPA programs include the Graduate Program in Public Policy & Administration (MPA) and the Master of International Affairs Program (MIA). For information, please contact the Department Representative.

The Constitution

This web site of the Department of Political Science at Barnard College contains the best information available at the time of publication. Statements contained herein are not contractual obligations. The Department reserves the right to change without specific notice offerings, policies, and other matters. Thank you.


Prof. Kimberly Marten discusses Russia and the Trump adminstration on Charlie Rose.

Prof. Paula Franzese was the recipient of the 2017 Justice Marie Garibaldi Award for Distinguished Service and Excellence, conferred by the NJ State Bar Association.

Prof. Severine Autesserre weighs in on protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Vice.

Prof. Eduardo Moncada writes about the business of violence in Latin America.

Prof. Ayten Gundogdu's newly published book now available and featured on Flavorwire's list of "10 Must-Read Academic Books for 2015"

At TEDxNewYork, Prof. Sheri Berman discusses the fragile state of young democracies

For older news items, please go to our "Faculty News" link via the main menu of the department webpage.


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