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Course offerings

While individual instructors vary in their approaches to the study of politics, the department’s overall approach is typically institutional, historical, and philosophical rather than narrowly scientific or merely topical. That is, we start from the perspective of the inquisitive and public-spirited citizen who seeks a better understanding of the foundations of the American constitutional system as well as alternative political regimes; the roots of international war and peace; and the eternal pursuit of justice, as well as the relation between the good of the individual and the community. Such insights are the prerequisite of informed public-policy choices and intelligent participation in the political debates of one’s time. Our aim is to equip the student with a degree of political understanding that will still be applicable long after graduation.

Washington Semester Program

Many political science majors spend a semester working, studying, and conducting research in Washington, D.C., although this program is open to majors in other disciplines as well. Each student obtains an internship in a government office or in organizations dealing with politics, communications, business, education, law, social service, health, and other public policy issues. Besides the internship, students participate in a weekly public-policy seminar and write a thesis under the guidance of College faculty.

Charles Carroll Program

The Charles Carroll program, named after the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, enriches the department’s curriculum through its focus on the major themes of the American political tradition and the tradition of political philosophy — themes intimately connected to the College’s broader commitment to the liberal arts and the Jesuit educational mission. The program brings distinguished guest lecturers on these subjects from a variety of perspectives each year; funds a sophomore seminar, to which admission is competitive; supports two postdoctoral students, who enrich our course offerings; and also provides students with opportunities for paid summer research internships. 

Alumni Success

Students who majored in political science at Holy Cross have gone on to successful careers in numerous fields including law, government, journalism, business, high-school and college teaching, work in think-tanks and other nonprofit organizations, the armed forces, and the priesthood. A number have achieved positions of national stature in these fields — including (for instance) President Obama’s first chief speechwriter and the publisher of National Review magazine. Others have held major state and city offices.


Many students who do not choose to major in political science nonetheless benefit from taking introductory courses in the various subfields, and electives for which they have satisfied the prerequisites. We believe that engaging in such studies will enhance their capacity to become informed and responsible citizens, just as it does for our majors.