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|S183 Gibson Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400787
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4787
(434) 924-3192 Fax: (434) 924-3359
Overview It should come as no surprise that, at the University of Virginia, Politics is one of the most popular and prestigious departments. After all, Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, founded this University to educate and prepare citizens for participation in the governance of this country.
The department studies government, public law, and politics of the national, state and local levels, and among states in international relations. Its course offerings are divided into four fields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. These fields permit two undergraduate majors. The government major emphasizes American politics and political theory, while the foreign affairs major emphasizes comparative politics and international relations. Both degree programs require study in all four of the department’s fields; at the same time, they are designed to allow each student latitude in selecting courses that meet specific interests.
Students who major in government or foreign affairs develop a critical understanding of the practical and theoretical dimensions of national and international governmental processes and institutions, as well as essential analytical and methodological skills. Rather than narrow specialization or vocational training, the department’s programs are designed to prepare students for teaching and research, public service at all levels of government, and fields such as business, foreign affairs, journalism, and public affairs.
Faculty With more than forty faculty members, the department offers students access to a diverse group of internationally recognized scholars and teachers. This group includes recipients of Fulbright, Rockefeller, N.E.H. and American Council of Learned Societies fellowships, a Rhodes Scholar who is a frequent political commentator on national news broadcasts, and a former member of the Carter White House staff who helped negotiate the Camp David Accords. The faculty has published numerous influential books.
Students More than 650 students are currently seeking a degree in one of the two majors available in the department. As a result, introductory lecture courses are large (200-plus students) and designed to give students an overview of a major topic (e.g., national government of the United States). In courses with large enrollments, teaching assistants lead discussion sections, which are limited to twenty students. Upper-level courses and seminars focus on more specific topics, such as Virginia government and politics, Japan in world affairs, or Marxist theories. While upper-level courses average thirty to forty students, seminars are limited to twenty. The department offers approximately 100 courses each year. Advanced students may enroll in graduate course work or pursue independent study topics.
Most students who receive a degree in politics go immediately into the workforce. Corporations from around the country come to the University to recruit students. However, graduate work is being pursued by an increasingly large percentage of students. Law is the most popular option, at Virginia’s law school or other top schools, such as Harvard and Stanford. Others choose graduate work in international relations, foreign affairs, or business.
Internships Several internship programs are available to students through various research centers located within the University, including the Center for Politics. There also are internships available through state agencies and in Washington, D.C. These must be approved by both the internship coordinator at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service and the undergraduate advisor. The Department does not grant credit for internships.