Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing your major is a tough process. Have a question about becoming an American politics major? You might find the answer here.

We try to list as many questions as we can, but we don't get all of them. If you have any additional questions or need details, don't hesitate to contact your American politics department academic counselor (DAC).

Have you ever wondered what it means to be a citizen in the United States? Or thought about what it is that makes the  American system of democratic governance and political participation unique? Have you struggled to answer whether American institutions like the US military are being increasingly politicized in today’s polarized world? Overwhelmed by the news and trying to make sense of what exactly is going on in our politics?

If you’ve asked these kinds of questions, then the American Politics major at West Point might be a great fit for you!

American politics (AP) majors  try to understand the American system of government in order to explain political outcomes. The AP program provides a wide breadth and depth of approaches to political science, while also giving cadets the ability to choose from a variety of complementary support courses outside of politics.

The department’s discipline is political science, which is different from the bloodsport of partisan politics. Our program isn’t specifically designed to teach you how to become a politician or a political actor, but instead to teach you how to understand the political environment of the United States using political science methods and tools. We help our cadets to think about how and why our government reaches the political outcomes that it does. While someone interested in a political career may find this material to be relevant, understanding politics is distinct from actively participating in its partisan form. In fact, one of the strengths of our program is the study of civil-military relations, which includes study of the philosophical foundations and historical development of the U.S. military’s professional, non-partisan norms. If complex human and social problems fascinate you, the AP major can provide you with the tools to better understand and solve these problems.

Yes, we have had our majors participate in the many semester abroad programs that the academy sponsors. Consult the AP Program DAC for more details on how this may work out for you. Interested cadets should begin discussing semester abroad options with their Department of Foreign Language coordinator and their DAC at least one year prior to execution.

Absolutely, we have many cadets who take on a minor in addition to being an AP major. Common minors include terrorism studies, grand strategy, and the regional studies.  That said, we have had cadets participate in the STEM minors, as well. Our large list of Complementary Support Course options makes most minors at West Point a possibility.

We also offer the American foundations minor, which allows cadets to expand their understanding of the American founding and the Constitution while majoring in other fields.

Contact the AP DAC for more details!


Cadets interested in writing a thesis will do so in their senior (firstie) year. Thesis cadets take one additional elective class in their firstie fall (SS489A) and spring (SS498A) semesters. You will be assigned to an AP faculty member with similar research interests to yours, and they will help guide your journey to completing a thesis. The program culminates with the cadet presenting the findings of their thesis project in front of a faculty advisory board during Projects Day in the spring semester. The program is challenging and not for everyone, but those who complete it consider it one of the most rewarding experiences we offer.

Thesis topics can cover just about any aspect of American politics that you can think of. A sampling of recent cadet theses includes:

  1. “Party Post-Mortems: Making Sense of the Partisan Response to the 2020 Election Result”
  2. “The Complications with Alliances in Cyber and Irregular Warfare”
  3. “The Intensification of Conflict: Hannah Arendt’s Early, Middle, and Late Political Philosophy”
  4. “Modern Electoral Reform: Form and Function”

The American politics major offers great preparation for graduate programs in political science — and in other fields.  Like most humanities and social science majors at West Point, the American politics program develops your ability to think critically, make logical arguments, and communicate effectively. All of these skills are vital for acceptance into (and success in) a wide range of graduate programs, not just in political science. 

Of course! Our department hosts the new American Foundations minor, which provides cadets the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the principles of the Constitution and the Nation's founding. You can speak with the American politics DAC to learn more about this exciting option.

If your major allows, you are welcome to take any of our American politics elective courses. We appreciate the diversity in thought and perspective that non-AP majors bring to our classes. Any questions about specific courses can be directed towards the American politics DAC, or to individual course directors (listed in the Redbook).

Additionally, all cadets are welcome to participate in the Domestic Affairs Forum, the American politics program's cadet academic club. Each semester we sponsor guest speakers, trip sections, election watch parties, and other cadet events. 

Finally, cadets interested in policy studies are encouraged to sign up for the Student Conference on US Affairs (SCUSA), an annual student conference held in the fall semester at West Point.