People & Society

Political Science



About the Political Science Program

Political Science is the academic discipline dedicated to the study of power and justice, and how political institutions, processes, and governments shape the use of power. Political Science has four well-defined subfields: Political Philosophy, International Relations, Comparative Politics, and American Politics. Courses provide students the opportunity to understand political actors, political institutions, and what those people and institutions do. Also, students learn to evaluate fundamental concepts, including equality, freedom, and order, and to evaluate politics from a range of perspectives using evidence in analyses and arguments. Finally, Political Science provides civic education by offering students the means to better understand and engage in democratic politics and public life.

The main objectives of these courses are to enable students to use strong analytical skills and critical thinking in their analyses of theories, institutions, and processes in Political Science. Political Science is an exciting discipline because debates rage over not only how to justly organize power, but also over the appropriate ways to study politics and, indeed, what makes something "political" in the first place.

A student has any number of reasons to study Political Science. Political Science provides a broad liberal arts education while focusing on politics and public life, and develops important skills in critical thinking and analysis. These abilities make students of political science ideal candidates for careers in law; in local, state, national, and international government; in business; in journalism; and in politics. Many undergraduates translate their majors into further education in graduate school in Political Science or related humanities and social science disciplines.

Transfer Preparation

Many colleges and universities offer baccalaureate degrees in this field. Students planning to transfer to a four-year college or university need to know which courses completed at Santa Monica College will be accepted at the specific college/university. Please consult a Counselor. SMC has transfer articulation agreements with the many UC and CSU campuses, as well as many private and out-of-state institutions.

Degrees and Certificates


Associate in Arts Degree for Transfer - Political Science

This discipline introduces students to the major fields of study in Political Science. The program includes the study of American Politics (principles, institutions, and policies). Depending upon the student’s chosen course of study, the program may also include Comparative Politics (institutional structures, processes, and political cultures), International Relations (structure and operation of the international system), and/or Political Philosophy (ideas about human nature, power, justice, and the state).

Program Map View Requirements

Program Level Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will:

  1. Exhibit strong academic behaviors, evidenced by their timeliness, regular attendance, participation in class activities, adherence to the College Honor Code, and awareness of their opportunities and obligations as students.

  2. Demonstrate through oral and/or written work knowledge of basic political processes, institutions, theories, concepts, events, and facts, as well as familiarity with various approaches to the study of politics, and their application to specific questions, challenges, and debates.

  3. Demonstrate the ability to evaluate evidence and make compelling arguments about political processes, institutions, theories, and concepts as these operate in different historical, national, cross-national, and cultural contexts.

  4. Demonstrate a level of engagement in political science coursework that enables and motivates the integration of acquired knowledge and skills beyond the classroom.

Potential Career Options

Counselor Speaking to Student

Need help planning for your major?

Our counselors are here to help you plan your academic classes, goals, and needs.

See an Academic Counselor

Other Resources

Special Departmental Programs

Other Program

  • Transfer Preparation

Related Program