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Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017

Government and Politics (GVPT)

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
3140 Tydings Hall, 301-405-4156
Chair: I. Morris (Prof & Chair)
Director: E. Calvo (Assoc Chair & Assoc Prof), M. Hanmer (Graduate Director & Assoc Prof), S. Kastner (Undergraduate Director & Assoc Prof)
Professors: C. Alford, J. Gimpel, J. Glass, P. Huth, F. Lee, M. Lichbach, W. McIntosh (Assoc Dean), M. Pearson, S. Telhami, V. Tismaneanu, E. Uslaner
Associate Professors: A. Banks, J. Birnir, D. Cunningham, K. Cunningham, V. Haufler, D. Karol, S. Kastner, W. Reed, S. Rouse, K. Soltan, P. Swistak
Assistant Professors: I. Alcaniz, T. Allee, K. Bond, S. Croco, J. Hadden, C. Jones (Asst Prof), L. Mason (Asst Prof), J. McCauley, K. Miler, J. Simmons, I. Ward, P. Wohlfarth
Professors Emeriti: C. Butterworth, R. Davidson, S. Elkin, M. Franda, T. Gurr (Dist. Univ. Prof.), G. Hathorn, M. Heisler, C. Hsueh, V. Marando, J. Oppenheimer, W. Phillips, D. Piper, G. Quester, C. Stone, R. Terchek, L. Vietri, J. Wilkenfeld

The Major

Government and Politics is one of the largest majors on campus with approximately 1,000 students taking courses in American politics, international relations, comparative politics, political theory, political philosophy, law, public policy, and environmental policy. Its large and diverse group of students are mentored by faculty through a variety of in and out of classroom experiences and have been extremely successful in garnering campus and national awards, acceptance to competitive law and graduate programs, and exciting careers in all levels of government and the private sector. Students also benefit from a large and active group of local alumni who have reached the highest levels of their respective careers and who actively meet, recruit, and mentor current students. Courses offered by this department may be found under the acronym GVPT.

Program Objectives

The Department of Government and Politics offers programs for the general student as well as for students who are interested in careers in government, the public sector, foreign assignment, teaching, a variety of graduate programs, and law schools. Satisfactory completion of requirements leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Politics.

The study of politics is both an ancient discipline and a modern social science. The origin of the discipline can be traced back to the earliest times when philosophers, statesmen, and citizens studied the nature of government, justice, responsibility, and the consequences of political action. More recently, the study of politics has also emphasized scientific analysis and methods of observations about politics. Today, the discipline reflects a broad effort to collect data about politics and governments utilizing relatively new techniques developed by all of the social sciences.

The Department of Government and Politics combines philosophical and scientific concerns in its overall program as well as in specific courses. It emphasizes such broad areas as political development, policy analysis, social justice, political economy, conflict, and human rights. These broad conceptual areas are integral components of study in the discipline. The areas are commonly referred to as American government and politics; comparative government; political theory; international relations; public administration; public law; public policy and political behavior.

Program Learning Outcomes

Having completed the degree program, students should have acquired the following knowledge and skills:

  • An understanding of basic political science concepts including power, institutions, political systems, theories of the state, political conflict, citizenship, and contending analytical and theoretical approaches
  • Proficiency in research and analytical skills using either quantitative methods and or library skills
  • A basic knowledge of the methods, approaches, or theories used in accumulating and interpreting information applicable to the discipline of political science
  • Effective oral and written communication skills to clearly and coherently present information in the discipline of political science


Admission to the Major

Government and Politics is a Limited Enrollment Program that has special requirements for admission, such as minimum GPA guidelines and required courses. Students planning to transfer into the major should contact the department for details on Limited Enrollment requirements. Students admitted as incoming freshmen will have their academic review after 45 credits.

Requirements for the Major

Government and Politics students must complete a minimum 36 credit hours within GVPT, but may take no more than 42 credit hours total within the major. A minimum grade of "C-" is required in each course, and at least 18 of the 36 credits must be in upper-level courses. Students exceeding the 42 credit limit will not be allowed to count additional GVPT credits within the 120 needed to graduate.  For every additional GVPT credit, students must complete an additional credit outside of the GVPT major to graduate. (AP and IB credits are included in this calculation).

  Required Courses Credits
GVPT100Principles of Government and Politics 3
GVPT241The Study of Political Philosophy: Ancient and Modern  3
ECON200Principles of Microeconomics  4
 One from:  3
GVPT170 ORAmerican Government  
GVPT171American Government  
 One from: 3-4
MATH111Introduction to Probability  
MATH120 or MATH220Elementary Calculus  
STAT100Introduction to Statistics  
GVPT ElectivesTotal of 27 GVPT credits, 18 credits of which must be at the 300-400 level 27
Skills RequirementCompletion of a foreign language through the entire elementary level AND a quantitative course from an approved list AND Another foreign language or quantitative skills course from an approved list. See GVPT website for more details. minimum
of 9
Supporting SequenceFive courses in another major outside of Government & Politics, with at least two courses at the 300-400 level. Approved by GVPT Advisor. 15

All majors must complete a secondary area of concentration in another department or approved disciplinary area. All courses used to satisfy these requirements must be completed with a minimum grade of "C-". Students must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average across all courses used to satisfy major degree requirements. Students should consult with an advisor.

Requirements for the Minor

Minor in International Development and Conflict Management

The minor in International Development and Conflict Management is a 19-credit, undergraduate program of instruction for students aspiring to a profession in the fields of conflict resolution, international development, and humanitarian relief.


Applications are accepted in the Spring and accepted students begin the program the following Fall. Students applying for the program must be entering their sophomore, junior, or senior year of undergraduate work. Applicants must be full-time students in good standing, with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better. Up to 35 students are accepted into the program each year.


Advising for the minor is conducted through the Center for International Development and Conflict Management directly, not the Department of Government and Politics.  For more information about the minor and for application materials, please visit: www.cidcm.umd.edu/minor/

Requirements for the minor include the following coursework:



Required Courses



Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, and International Development



One statistics course from approved list



Capstone I: International Development and Conflict Management



Capstone II: International Development and Conflict Management



Elective courses from approved list (2 courses)



Behavioral and Social Sciences Special Topics: CIDCM Minor Practicum



Total Credits


Note: Six credits (or two courses) can be double counted for your major and the minor. All classes must be completed after acceptance into the minor program, with the exception of the statistics requirement.


All courses used to satisfy the requirements of the minor must be completed with a grade of "C-" or better. Students must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average across all courses used to satisfy the minor requirements.


Academic advisors are available to assist students in finding internships, learning about academic opportunities, clarifying post-graduation plans, and general questions. 

Academic advising is available daily on a walk-in or appointment basis in the Undergraduate Advising Office located in 3104 Tydings Hall. Walk-in schedules are posted on-line at http://gvpt.umd.edu/undergraduate/undergraduate-advisingprospective-students .

Students are encouraged to see an advisor each semester to ensure understanding of major requirements and to review students' progress within the major. All students are required to see an advisor before they register for their senior year of classes, typically between 75 and 89 credits earned.

Undergraduate Research Experiences

Undergraduate GVPT majors are strongly encouraged to participate in independent research with GVPT faculty members. The independent study option provides students opportunities to work one-on-one with a faculty member doing research on a topic of the student's choosing. Students should expect to devote approximately 12 hours per week for 16 weeks to the independent study. Students should also expect to write a final research paper no less than 40 pages in length. GVPT Advisors are available to assist students in identifying appropriate research topics and in selecting the GVPT faculty mentor.

Only six hours of graded GVPT independent study credit will apply toward the 36 hours needed in the major. Independent study opportunities are generally open only to GVPT majors with junior standing and a 3.0 GPA.


Undergraduate GVPT majors are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the university's close proximity to Washington D.C. and Annapolis by completing at least one internship experience. The GVPT Advising Office advertises internship opportunities weekly on the undergraduate blog, and advisors can assist students in identifying other internship opportunities.

The department offers three programs through which students can receive academic credit for their internship - the Public Policy Internship Program, the Capitol Hill Internship Program, and the Maryland Internship Program. Information on these programs is available on the GVPT website, www.gvpt.umd.edu/undergraduate/internships .

Only six hours of graded GVPT internship credit will apply toward the 36 hours needed in the major. Internship credit graded on a pass/fail basis may not be used to satisfy the GVPT major requirements. In no cases may more than 12 internship credits be counted towards the 120 credits needed to graduate. Internships are generally open only to GVPT majors with junior standing and a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

Honors Program

The aim of the Government and Politics Honors Program is to encourage students with outstanding abilities to accelerate their development and intellectual growth under conditions of greater freedom, greater responsibility, and more individual supervision from their instructors. The program also seeks to provide a community within which students can meet one another and further develop their interests in political science and public affairs.

All students majoring in government and politics may apply for admission to the GVPT Honors Program once they have completed the first semester of their sophomore year. Additional information concerning the Honors Program may be obtained online at http://bsosundergrad.umd.edu/academics/departmental-honors-programs .

Student Societies and Professional Organizations

Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, is the only honor society for college students of political science and government in the United States. The Alpha Zeta chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha was founded in 1938 at the University of Maryland, College Park. Since then, the chapter has hosted a variety of activities and worked closely with the Department of Government & Politics. For more information, please visit http://bsos.umd.edu/students/honor-societies

Black Political Student Association was founded in 2008 at the University of Maryland, College Park. The goal of the Black Political Student Association (BPSA) is to unite political-minded university students and discuss issues going on in the world. BPSA aims to build solidarity between Black Government & Politics majors, ignite interest in community involvement, provide opportunities for professional development, and get more Black students involved in the Government & Politics program at UMD.

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

GVPT students are encouraged to apply for Government and Politics Departmental Scholarships and outside scholarship opportunities. For more information on these scholarships, please visit www.gvpt.umd.edu/undergraduate/scholarships .

The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) administers all types of federal, state and institutional financial assistance programs and, in cooperation with other university offices, participates in the awarding of scholarships to deserving students. For information, please visit www.financialaid.umd.edu .

Awards and Recognition

Government and Politics students have had great success in winning campus and national awards. Our students have been chosen as university commencement speaker and university medal winner. Many students are regularly selected for national undergraduate conferences and have won national scholarships for graduate and law school. The Undergraduate Director nominates deserving students for departmental and university awards and recognition, and students are informed through the advising office of new opportunities to apply.   

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