American Politics

American Politics

American Politics: Sample Schedules

In addition to core classes, American politics majors take 13 electives in the major. These include 5 political science toolbox courses, 4 American politics electives, 1 international affairs elective, and 3 Complementary Support Courses (CSCs). 

The major reflects the diverse interests of our faculty and our majors. A large selection of elective options empowers cadets to build academic programs that meet their unique goals and interests. Are you interested in focusing your studies on foreign policy and national security? What about the institutions and the processes that influence domestic policymaking? Perhaps you would like to apply big data and quantitative research methods to the study of politics or explore the philosophical foundations of republican government? The American politics major can be structured to meet these goals—and many others. Motivated cadets also have the opportunity to pursue their own academic research with a faculty supervisor by participating in our thesis program.

The examples below will give you a sense of some of the most popular paths cadets take through the American politics major. These suggestions are not all-inclusive – your American politics department academic counselor can work with you one-on-one to develop the academic program that matches your interests. Get in touch with the American politics department academic counselor to learn more!

A full listing of available electives can be found on the American Politics Major page of the USMA Redbook.

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The Modern Politico

How do the different members, organizations, and institutions of the American government engage in policymaking? What facilitates successful policy change or reform? What stands in the way of bipartisan consensus? How is the balance of power among the judicial, legislative, and executive branches likely to develop in the 21st century?

The American politics major provides a wide range of courses for cadets interested in learning more about why American politics functions the way that it does. Cadets also have the opportunity to take interdisciplinary CSCs from the law, English, history, and the behavioral science / leadership departments to further their understanding of the legal, cultural, and historical factors that impact our politics today.

  1. American Politics Electives:
  2. International Affairs Elective:
  3. Complementary Support Courses Electives:

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The National Security Guru

How are decisions regarding military policy and the use of military force made in the U.S. government? To the degree such decisions are political, how does the military offer advice while remaining an apolitical organization? How do the different agencies work together to form a coherent foreign policy? How will domestic institutions responsible for shaping U.S. foreign policy adapt to emerging challenges like great-power competition, climate change, and international terrorism?

Cadets interested in how U.S. foreign policy is made and the military’s role in the national security policymaking process will find a large number of ways to pursue their interests in the American politics major.  Cadets can take social sciences classes focused on defense and foreign policymaking, terrorism studies courses from the Combatting Terrorism Center, as well as interdisciplinary CSCs from the law, history, and defense and strategic studies departments.

  1. American Politics Electives:
  2. International Affairs Electives:
  3. Complementary Support Courses Electives:

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The Data Analyst

How can we use empirical data to evaluate policy prescriptions? How do scholars test hypotheses in political science? What insights emerge from studying voting patterns in the electorate and the chambers of Congress? How does government spending relate to policy outcomes? What are the advantages (and limitations) of public opinion polling?

Political scientists recognize the importance of quantitative analysis in solving political research questions. That emphasis has only increased with the data revolution of the 21st century. Cadets interested in further enhancing their quantitative analytical skills can do so through a combination of American politics electives and CSCs focused on math and economics.

  1. American Politics Electives:
  2. International Affairs Electives:
  3. Complementary Support Courses Electives:

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The Political Theorist

What is justice? What are the philosophical foundations of the American republic? What does the future hold for liberalism, capitalism, and authoritarianism? How can we think rationally about normative questions that elude empirical analysis?

Cadets interested in exploring the fundamental questions of political life will find a number of options in the AP major, starting with the toolbox course SS386: Political Thought. Our AP electives cover theoretical approaches and CSCs in English, philosophy, and history make up a rigorous introduction to the political theoretical questions that animate American politics.

  1. American Politics Electives:
  2. International Affairs Electives:
  3. Complementary Support Courses Electives:

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