American Politics Major

The American politics (AP) program uses political science tools to analyze and understand the American system of government, with the goal of explaining political outcomes. The program traces the founding and evolution of our American political institutions, emphasizing how philosophical principles influenced the structure and behavior of the nation's governing apparatus. Cadets taking our classes receive instruction in political science methods, enabling them to identify and critique methodological approaches to answering political science questions and select an appropriate method of answering their own research questions. From this intellectual foundation, students are afforded an opportunity to study contemporary topics in public policy in depth and explain outcomes based on the actions of formal and informal political actors. 

As a program focused on educating future Army leaders, the American politics program also emphasizes the role of the U.S. military in society, its constitutional roles and responsibilities, and the shifting tenor of civil-military relations across time and levels of policy implementation. American politics majors develop a deep understanding of their roles as both a military officer and a citizen by exploring political institutions, societal dynamics, public policymaking, and national security strategy. The AP program provides future officers with the strategic, political, cultural, and policymaking knowledge that Army leaders at all levels, from platoon leader to theater commander, need to succeed on the contemporary battlefield.

To graduate as an American politics major, cadets are required to take 13 elective courses in the major as well as 27 courses in the core. With a large pool of elective options, American politics majors have a lot of flexibility in charting their academic journeys to match their unique interests. 

To learn more about the program, contact the AP Department Academic Counselor!

Are you a current cadet thinking about majoring in American Politics? Fill out an interest form here!

Program Director:  LTC Lee Robinson

Required Tool Box Courses

All American politics majors are required to take five tool box courses. These classes provide the foundational skills you will use over the course of your academic journey in American politics.

  1. SS360: Research Methods- sophomore (yearling) year
  2. SS386: Political Thought - sophomore (yearling) / junior (cow) year
  3. SS376: American Political Development - sophomore (yearling) / junior (cow) year
  4. SS366: Comparative Politics - junior (cow) / senior (firstie) year
  5. SS480: Public Policymaking - senior (firstie) year

American Politics Electives

American Politics majors choose four American politics electives from the below list of options. These electives are normally taken in the cadet's junior (cow) and senior (firstie) years.

  1. SS370: Mass Media and American Politics
  2. SS373: The American Presidency
  3. SS379: Legislative Politics
  4. SS392: The Politics of Race, Gender, and Sexuality
  5. SS464: Homeland Security
  6. SS465: Terrorism: New Challenges
  7. SS466: Advanced Terrorism Studies
  8. SS468: Political Participation
  9. SS472: The Soldier and the State
  10. SS473: American Foreign Policy
  11. SS481: The Politics of Defense Policy
  12. SS490A: Colloquium in American Politics*
  13. SS493: Senior Studies in American Politics*

*SS490A and SS493 explore special topics in American politics and vary annually. Recent special topics classes have included “Music and Influence,” “African American Political Thought,” “Politics and the Internet,” and “Economics for Policymakers.” Check with the American Politics DAC about future offerings!

International Affairs Elective

Cadets take one international affairs elective. This is normally taken in the cadet's junior (cow) or senior (firstie) year. Possible options include the following:

  1. SS372: Politics and Government of China
  2. SS375: Government and Politics of Russia and Neighbors
  3. SS457: Introduction to Grand Strategy
  4. SS476: Conflict and Negotiation
  5. SS483: National Security Seminar
  6. SS487: International Political Economy
  7. And many more! Check the USMA Redbook for the most current list of international affairs electives.

Complementary Support Courses

AP cadets also choose three Complementary Support Courses (CSCs) in order to develop their academic breadth outside of the field of political science. These classes are normally taken in a cadet's Cow or Firstie year. Options include courses in the field of Economics, Psychology, Management, History, English, Geography, Law, and Mathematics, among others. 

For a list of possible CSC courses, please check the American Politics Major entry in the Redbook. Courses not in the list of CSCs in the Redbook may still qualify for credit. Consult the American Politics DAC for more details.


Are you interested in learning more about American Politics (AP)?

Check out our links below for more detailed information on what it’s like to study American politics: