Political Science

Whether you aspire to be a leader in politics, law, government service, or within a public agency, St. Ambrose has a program to help you achieve your goals.

Our graduates work at the U.S District Court, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, Hopkins & Huebner, and AmeriCorps; and are in graduate studies at the University of Iowa and DePaul University Law School. 

Ambrose Advantages

  • We Educate Future Leaders
  • Opportunities Beyond the Classroom
  • Extraordinary Faculty and Courses

Students at Model UN

Duk Kim in front of class

Students in a row

Our Political Science program teaches you to think critically, understand the challenges and opportunities faced by a complex world, and discern the role you can play in the betterment of society.

See our fact sheet on Political Science (pdf)

More Information on the Political Science Program

What will I learn?

Courses include American government, leadership studies, political philosophy, global issues, terrorism, campaigns and elections, foreign policy, comparative politics, and environmental politics. You also can complete an internship and learn from leaders who are active in government or agencies that serve the public.

You can choose from three concentrations: Pre-Law, Public Administration, and International Politics. We also offer a teaching major in American government for grades 7-12.

Throughout your studies, you will learn how to think carefully and critically about important questions, write and speak well, ground problems in historic issues, collect information to analyze problems and gain theoretical insight, and gather practical knowledge of the political world.

Our faculty will teach you quantitative skills - such as collecting and interpreting statistics - and qualitative skills - such as discerning between public opinion and propaganda.

What unique learning opportunities will I have?
  • Join Mock Trial at SAU. This program simulates a real courtroom trial with students serving as attorneys and witnesses. Our team consistently earns top ranks at competitions, and first-year and transfer students who commit to the team can apply for a $1,000 annual scholarship, renewable for up to eight semesters. For more information on Mock Trial, contact coach Sarah Gorham.
  • Join Model U.N. and explore a range of global issues, such as international conflicts, terrorism, nuclear weapons and poverty. In November, the SAU chapter will represent Colombia at the American Model United Nations Conference in Chicago. In February 2018, we will represent Germany at the Midwest Model United Nations Conference in St. Louis.
  • Are you interested in a law degree? SAU has an agreement with the University of Iowa College of Law that allows you to earn your undergraduate and law degree in six years. You can apply for the 3+3 Program your junior year and if accepted, earn your senior year of undergraduate credits during your first year of law school. And, we will help you plan for your goal. Our faculty advise all pre-law students, regardless of their major. For more information, contact Dr. Joe Hebert, director of Pre-Law Studies at St. Ambrose.
  • Talk to SAU alumni. Our faculty stay connected with our graduates, many who are willing to meet with current students in and outside the classroom to share their experiences in public service and leadership.
  • Iowa is "first in the nation" to caucus for presidential elections, which brings a steady stream of presidential hopefuls to the area and to campus. SAU also hosts many legislative forums and political debates featuring candidates seeking local, state and national offices. These events provide extraordinary opportunities to observe, participate, volunteer, or even intern or make a career connection.

What are some potential career outcomes?

You could work for legislative, executive and judicial agencies at the national, state and local levels of government.

Your skills are also valued by non-profit agencies, including those specializing in education, philanthropy, social and community service. Or, work for a large or small business, go into communications, or technology consulting.

Our graduates go on to law school, graduate school, are employed in all levels of government, run for political office, and manage business, non-profit, and government organizations.

Where are some of our alums working?
  • Joe Barnum '16 is employed with AmeriCorps as a team leader for FEMA in the Southern Region of the United States headquartered in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
  • Kathryn Brown '14 is at DePaul University Law School and serves as judicial extern for the Honorable Joan H. Lefkow of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and is the managing editor of lead articles for the DePaul Law Review.
  • Henry J. Marquard '13 is the Director of Government Affairs at the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce in Davenport.     
3+3 Degree Plan with University of Iowa

In your junior year, you can apply to the University of Iowa Law School and earn both your undergraduate and law degree in a total of six years.

If accepted to the program, you fulfill the senior year of undergraduate credits through their first year of law school courses.

This program is part of an agreement with the University of Iowa College of Law.

For more information, contact Dr. Joe Hebert, Director of Pre-Law Studies at St. Ambrose.

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (30 credits)


+PSCI 101 American Government
+PSCI 120 Truth, Justice & Politics: An Introduction to Political Philosophy
+PSCI 130 Global Issues
PSCI 400 Research in Political Science
STAT 213 Applied Statistical Reasoning for the Sciences

Plus 15 credits, including 9 credits at 300 level or above;
One course of each: American Government, International Politics, Political Philosophy, and Pre-Law.


Pre-Law Concentration (33 credits)

+PSCI 101 American Government
+PSCI 120 Truth, Justice & Politics: An Introduction to Political Philosophy
+PSCI 130 Global Issues
PSCI 400 Research in Political Science
STAT 213 Applied Statistical Reasoning for the Sciences

Plus 18 credits, 12 credits of which must be pre-law courses.

International Politics Concentration (33 credits)

+PSCI 101 American Government
+PSCI 120 Truth, Justice & Politics: An Introduction to Political Philosophy
+PSCI 130 Global Issues
PSCI 400 Research in Political Science
STAT 213 Applied Statistical Reasoning for the Sciences

18 credits, 12 credits of which must be International Politics courses.

Public Policy and Administration Concentration (33 credits)

+PSCI 101 American Government
+PSCI 120 Truth, Justice & Politics: An Introduction to Political Philosophy
+PSCI 130 Global Issues
PSCI 400 Research in Political Science
STAT 213 Applied Statistical Reasoning for the Sciences

18 credits which must include one of the following:
+PSCI 301 Campaigns and Elections
PSCI 360 Administrative Law and Regulations
PSCI 365 Political, Civic & Community Leadership
+PSCI 370 Public Administration
+PSCI 375 Environmental Politics, Policy & Law

6 credits of approved electives at the 300 level.

Note: Public Administration students must consult with the Chair of Political Science for approval of electives toward the concentration. Public Administration students are strongly encouraged to double major in another field related to public service; for instance, sociology, criminal justice, psychology, etc. Public Administration students should also complete an interdisciplinary minor related to their studies; such as the organizational leadership minor, the environmental studies minor, or the pre-law minor.

For approval of second major and interdisciplinary minor, consult with political science chair, the chair of second major department, and the coordinator/director of the appropriate interdisciplinary minor.

Minor in Political Science (18 credits)

+PSCI 101 American Government
+PSCI 120 Truth, Justice & Politics: An Introduction to Political Philosophy
+PSCI 130 Global Issues;
9 credits of PSCI, 6 credits of which must be at the 300 level or above.

Plan to Graduate

This is the suggested plan of study for graduating in four years with a degree in Political Science and Leadership Studies. This plan assumes the student has not met the foreign language requirement (three years of foreign language in high school).

Year One

+PSCI 101 American Government 3 +PSCI 130 Global Issues 3
Oral Communication 3 PSCI 104 or PSCI 110 3
Quantitative Reasoning 3 Catholic Intellectual Tradition 3
Humanities 3 Foreign Language 101 3
NSS New Student Seminar 1 Creative Arts 2-3
Information Literacy 1 +KIN 149 1
Total Credits 14 Total Credits 15-16

Year Two

+PSCI 120 Truth Justice and Politics* 3 PSCI 230 232 309 316 or 319* 3
Foreign Language 102 3 PSCI 310, 320, or 330* 3
Catholic Intellectual Tradition 3 Catholic Intellectual Tradition 3
Humanities 3 Foreign Language 102 3
Health and Fitness 3 Natural Science 3
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15

Year Three

STAT 213, PSCI 304, PSCI 310*, PSCI 320* or PSCI 330* 3 PSCI 301, PSCI 360*, PSCI 365*, PSCI 370 or PSCI 375 3
Catholic Intellectual Tradition 3 Electives 12
Electives 9
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15

Year Four

PSCI 301, PSCI 360*, PSCI 365*, PSCI 370, or PSCI 375 3 PSCI 400* 3
Electives 12 Electives 12
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15

*Needs prerequisite
+satisfies a general education requirement


Scholarships and Grants

For academic/merit-based awards, eligible students are matched to the qualifying award; some of them are listed below.

For need-based support, eligibility is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

You may also qualify for a scholarship or grant due to your talent in the fine arts or athletics. Give us a call or send an email so we can get to know you and find the best package for you. (You're also encouraged to seek outside scholarships and begin that search early.)

Institutional scholarships (2018-19)

To receive an institutional grant or scholarship students must meet specific criteria, and some may require a certain GPA to stay eligible. There is no need to apply for these; students automatically are eligible if they meet the criteria.

The Admissions Office calculates the award amount by using high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores.

Ambrose Scholar
For First Year, on-campus residents only. Straight As on high school transcript and a minimum 30 ACT score. Applicants who meet Ambrose Scholar criteria will be invited to compete for a full tuition scholarship for $@{17-18-Tuition}.

Trustee Scholar
$22,000/year - For First-year, on-campus residents only. Unweighted 3.8 GPA, 28+ACT. May be offset by state and/or federal aid if eligible.

Academic Scholarship
$14,000-17,000/year - Based on GPA and ACT/SAT score

University Grant
$12,000/year - Based on high school GPA and ACT/SAT score

Additional Awards

If you want to apply for any of the scholarships below, contact the Admissions Office.

Fine Arts Scholarships
Award based on performance and ability in art, music, or theatre. Includes the Michael Kennedy Theatre Scholarship. Audition or portfolio required.

Athletics Scholarships
Award varies. Based on performance and ability. Marching Band scholarships available. See below.

Freeman Pollard Minority Scholarship
$1,000 for on-campus students; $500 for off-campus. For accepted minority students.

Diocese of Davenport Catholic Parish Scholarship
Award varies. For First Year students only who are recommended by their parish pastor in the Diocese of Davenport. Recommendation to be completed by your pastor available here (pdf).

Father Welch Alumni Scholarship
$1,000/year. For on-campus students only whose parent is a St. Ambrose graduate.

Athletic Scholarships

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) awards millions of dollars annually to student-athletes at more than 250 colleges and universities. These scholarships allow you to earn a college education while competing in the sport that you love. At Ambrose, we embody that value of developing both the mind and body.

How do I qualify for an athletic scholarship?
You must first be eligible to play a sport at St. Ambrose. You can read about those qualifications here. The NAIA also has a complete website on how to register for eligibility at playNAIA.org

Transfer Scholarships

Amounts are for transfer students entering St. Ambrose in the 2018-19 academic year. For questions about any of the awards below, give our friendly Financial Aid Office a call at 563-333-5775.

Guaranteed Minimum Scholarship Award 

based on GPA (Grade Point Average)
3.5-4.00 GPA: $12,000 per year scholarship award
3.0-3.49 GPA: $11,000 per year scholarship award
2.5-2.99 GPA: $10,000 per year scholarship award
2.0-2.49 GPA: $8,000 per year scholarship award


Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society

Based on Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society membership. Award is $12,500 per year for new transfer students.

Awards are renewable each year up to a maximum eight semesters, including transfer hours. Scholarships awarded for fall and spring semesters only. GPA is based on 4.0 scale.

Award Terms

FAFSA forms must be filed every year.

  • To be considered for an Iowa Tuition Grant, the filing deadline is July 1.
  • The St. Ambrose priority deadline is March 15 for some institutional funds. 
  • The Financial Aid Office has the right to adjust your award at any time due to changes in your financial, academic, enrollment, or housing status. 
  • Awards offered from State and Federal programs are contingent upon legislative allocation of funds and maximum limits allowed.
  • You must report any assistance you receive from outside sources – including assistance from your employer – to the Financial Aid Office.

Institutional Aid

Undergraduate level students must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester to receive Institutional money. All students, undergraduate or graduate, must be enrolled at least half-time per semester to be eligible for student loans. (Half-time for Undergraduate level = 6 credits; Graduate level = 5 credits)

There is no institutional aid for summer sessions. Federal Loans may be available if you are enrolled at least 1/2 time.

You are eligible for institutional financial aid for up to eight semesters, including semesters taken at other schools, before or after time spent at the university (i.e. if you transfer in as a junior, you will receive 4 semesters of institutional aid; or you attended St. Ambrose, left to attend another school, and then returned). This means that if you continue into a fifth year of classes, you will not be eligible for any institutional funds you may have received previously. (Institutional funds are those awarded by the university, not state, federal, or outside based scholarships or grants.)


All financial aid awards, including loans, are disbursed in two disbursements: one for the fall term and one for the spring term. If you are a first-time borrower, there is a 30-day hold on your first disbursement. Once the loan funds have been applied to your account and if you have awards in excess of your costs, you may receive a refund. Any other questions regarding your financial aid should be directed to the Financial Aid Office.

Work Study

If you are receiving assistance under the work study program, you must understand that the amount shown on your award letter is the amount we expect you to earn during one academic year if you work all your allotted hours. Any additional earnings must be approved by your department supervisor and taken into consideration in your financial award package.

Endowed Scholarships

Part of the financial aid funds that St. Ambrose awards come from monies provided through the generous support of St. Ambrose University benefactors. Most endowed scholarships are meant to provide financial support for St. Ambrose University's academic and need based awards. Due to this, in some cases you may see a portion of your Academic Scholarship, for example, being replaced by a named endowed scholarship. The total dollar amount you receive between the two awards, however, will remain unchanged.

Recipients are chosen based on the criteria established by the donor, which include, but are not limited to: major, class rank, GPA, performance in a fine art, or residency. You may be contacted by the Advancement Office to write a thank you letter to the donor.

What happens if I withdraw or need to drop a class?

  • If you drop a class, it may affect the amount of aid you can receive. It is very important to visit your Financial Aid counselor if you are planning on dropping a class.
  • If you are going to withdraw completely from all your classes, your financial aid awards will be prorated according to the amount of time you were actually enrolled. It is possible that you may end up owing the University for a portion of your expenses incurred.
  • More information regarding this policy is available in the University catalog.
  • Please contact your Financial Aid counselor if you are considering dropping classes or withdrawing from the University.

Rachel Molsberry '14, JD

"Although nothing can fully prepare you for law school or being a lawyer," Rachel said, "St. Ambrose gave me the foundations necessary and helped me find my passion, health law."

Read my story

Apply Visit Info


William Parsons, PhD, Chairperson

Political Science and Leadership Studies
Folwell Center
518 W. Locust St.

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? St. Ambrose offers more than 60 programs and 26 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!