Overview

Politics involves the study of power, influence and ideas in public and private life, at the personal, local, state, national, and international levels. The mission of the Department of Politics is to provide our students with an understanding of politics, government, and public policy to prepare them to become well informed, curious, and engaged leaders in their communities, in their societies, and in our increasingly complex, interdependent, and pluralistic world. Graduates of the Politics Department have found this major provides an excellent basis for careers in politics, law, education, business, public service, international affairs, and media.

The Politics Department emphasizes a strong grounding in all sub-fields of political science (American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory and public law), as well as putting theory into practice (praxis). The department highly encourages each of its majors to engage in off-campus and experiential learning, community-based research, and internships.   Politics majors regularly hold internships in government agencies, public interest organizations, media firms, businesses, and law offices across the country and abroad.  The department has helped lead efforts at Occidental College, along with the Center for Community Based Learning and the Office of Community Engagement, to link the College’s academic program with community involvement, including expanding community internships and community-oriented research projects for students.

The Politics Department supports programs in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and overseas, and offers its signature Campaign Semester program, in which students receive a full semester credit while working full-time on a political campaign.  The department also offers students interested in law the opportunity to receive half semester credit while working as law clerks in legal offices across Los Angeles. 

The Politics Department provides financial support for majors conducting research or holding internships during the academic year and over the summer. The Anderson, Reath, McKelvey and Caldwell Fellowships support majors working on a wide variety of projects in the United States and abroad. The department also encourages majors to pursue Undergraduate Research Fellowships for summer research in partnership with a faculty member and Research Abroad fellowships through the International Programs Office.