Politics at Oberlin encompasses a broad field of study and includes topics sometimes described as political science or government elsewhere. Our program explores many dimensions of political life, ranging from small groups to citizens’ organizations, to cities, countries, and the international system, and involves examination of broad issues of power, conflict, peace, citizenship, representation, and justice.
A major in politics can provide a focus for a liberal arts program in the social sciences, and help you understand and act more effectively in the world.
Our faculty present a variety of approaches to politics, combining conceptual and theoretical analyses with historical, policy and practical orientations. We are politically diverse and encourage you to bring your own perspectives and critical capacities to bear in class. We strive to maintain the highest intellectual standards, to stimulate political discussion from the abstract and theoretical to the immediately practical, and to encourage you to incorporate critical political viewpoints into your everyday lives and careers.
Our program prepares students for graduate studies in law, public policy, business administration, public administration, and political science. Our department is a national leader among liberal arts colleges in providing undergraduate training for those who go on to doctorates and then research and teaching careers in political science. Graduates enjoy success in government, law, public or private nonprofit agencies, journalism, and teaching.
The politics curriculum is divided into four main fields:
- American politics
- Comparative politics (internal politics of foreign countries)
- International politics (relations among countries)
- Political theory (historical and philosophical study of political ideas)
Students who major in politics must take intermediate-level classes in at least three of the four main fields as well as a senior-level research seminar. We also offer a minor and an honors program. Each year we invite our most accomplished second-semester juniors into our honors program. The honors program consists of an honors thesis, together with written and oral exams administered by a scholar from another institution, as well as closely supervised individual readings.
We invite you to become involved in internships or other forms of practical experience. The Oberlin Initiative for Electoral Politics encourages students to consider careers in elective office through a special course taught each spring and paid internships in campaign-related offices in the summer. We sponsor and place students in congressional offices in Washington, D.C., in positions with policy and advocacy organizations law firms, and media organizations. Others spend time away from Oberlin studying a wide range of subjects all over the world.