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, AmeriCorps, and others. Many advance to graduate studies and have attended the University of Iowa and DePaul University Law School, among others.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Curriculum that sets a solid foundation for political leadership and advanced degrees in law and political science
  • Present and defend your research in our fully-funded Mock Trial and Model UN teams
  • One-on-one mentorships with our experienced faculty who hold real-world expertise

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.


More Information on the Political Science Program

What will I learn?

Courses include American government, law, 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. If you're interested in pursuing law school, we offer a pre-law program in conjunction with the University of Iowa (see below).

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.

Peace Corps Prep

If service is included in your future plans, we one of few universities in Iowa offering Peace Corps Prep, a program that can make you a stronger candidate for volunteer positions within the Peace Corps or other service programs.

Most students can earn the certificate – awarded by the Peace Corps – without taking extra courses. Talk to your advisor if you're interested.

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 represented 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 stays 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.
  • If you are adventurous with a deep personal drive to act and seek to be immersed in countries and cultures outside of your own, our Peace Corps Prep program will help you gain the intercultural skills you need for a life-changing service experience. SAU is one of few universities in Iowa offering Peace Corps Prep, a program that makes you a stronger candidate for volunteer positions within the Peace Corps or other service programs. Employers value the skills and cultural worldview you gain in Peace Corps, and best of all, most students can earn the Peace Corps certificate without taking extra courses.

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?
  • Nya Hardaman ’23 is a Youth and Community Program Specialist in St. Paul, MN.
  • Reece Powell ’22 is a Legislative Research Analyst for Iowa Senate Republicans.
  • Kylee Colvin ’21 is an Administrative Specialist with Marine Corps Air Station in Camp Pendleton, CA.
  • Hanley Preston '20 is a Technical Analyst at ANSER.
  • Shannon McEachern ’19 is an Assistant State’s Attorney for DeKalb County, IL    

L. Joseph Hebert, PhD, Professor and Chair

Duk Kim, PhD, Professor

Pre-Law Program

3+3 Law 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, view the Pre-Law program page or contact Dr. Joe Hebert, Director of Pre-Law Studies at St. Ambrose.

Colin McNamara always saw law school has his destiny. He was the first student to progress through St. Ambrose's 3+3 degree plan in partnership with the University of Iowa. Read Colin's story.

Minor in Pre-Law (18 credits)

See the Pre-Law page for details.

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science (36 credits)

+PSCI 101 American Government
+PSCI 110 Law and Society: An Introduction to the American Legal System or +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

At least two courses from each of the following subject areas:

  1. Law and Political Philosophy: PSCI 304, PSCI 320, PSCI 330
  2. Government and Leadership: PSCI 301, PSCI 360, PSCI 365, PSCI 370
  3. International Relations: PSCI 230, PSCI 309, PSCI 313, PSCI 316, PSCI 319

At least one of the following:
PSCI 104 Introduction to Leadership Studies
PSCI 305 (3 semesters) Mock Trial, 1 credit each
PSCI 306 (3 semesters) Model United Nations, 1 credit each
PSCI 351 Internship in Pre-Law
PSCI 353 Internship in Politics

Read course descriptions in the online course catalog

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 130 Global Issues
1 course in law and political philosophy
1 course in government and leadership
1 course in international studies

One of the following:
+PSCI 104 Introduction to Leadership Studies
+PSCI 110 Law and Society: An Introduction to the American Legal System
+PSCI 120 Truth, Justice & Politics: An Introduction to Political Philosophy

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

Year Two

+PSCI 120 Truth, Justice and Politics 3 PSCI 230 or 232; 309 or 316*; 309 or 319 3
PSCI 320* OR 330* 3 PSCI 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

PSCI 301, 360, or 370 3 PSCI 230, 309, 316, 319 3
+Catholic Intellectual Tradition 3 PSCI 365* 3
+STAT 213 3 Electives 6
PSCI 230, 309, 313, 316, or 319 3
Elective 3
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 12

Year Four

PSCI 400* (either fall or spring) 3 PSCI 400* (either fall or spring) 3
Electives 12 Electives 12
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15

*Needs prerequisite
+satisfies a general education requirement

Scholarships and Grants


St. Ambrose offers excellent scholarships and grants, work-study and other financial aid options! Full-time students may be eligible based on your strong academic performance in college, your talent in fine arts or athletics or your demonstrated financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The SAU school code for the FAFSA is 001889.

First-Year Scholarships and Institutional Aid 2024-2025

Merit-Based Scholarships

4.0 GPA: $24,000
3.75-3.99 GPA: $22,000
3.0-3.749 GPA: $20,000
2.5-2.99 GPA: $18,000
2.0-2.49 GPA: $14,000
If GPA is 2.0-2.49, additional documents and review required for admission.

Merit-Based Scholarships

4.o GPA: $17,000
3.75-3.99 GPA: $16,000
3.0-3.749 GPA: $15,000
2.5-2.99 GPA: $14,000
2.0-2.49 GPA: $13,000
If GPA is 2.0-2.49, additional documents and review required for admission.


Ambrose Advantage Full-Tuition Scholarship
Pell-eligible Iowa residents, learn more here

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarship: $500 per year
Parent is a St. Ambrose graduate

Catholic Traditions Scholarship: $1,000 per year
Students with Catholic religious denomination or plans to graduate from Catholic high school 

Minority Scholarship: $500 per year
Ethnically diverse student

Athletic Scholarships: varies
Performance and ability

Fine Arts Scholarships: varies
Performance and ability in music, art and theatre

Faith Learning Justice Campus Ministry Scholarships: $2,000 per year
Recognition of involvement in church and community service and interest in strengthening faith and growing as a leader in campus ministry

Scholarships are determined by unweighted GPA, and are renewable for four years of undergraduate student. Increases in scholarship awards due to change in GPA will be reviewed until March 1.

State and Federal Grants, Work Study

Grants are money that you don't repay, and they can come from government or private sources. SAU receives all financial aid funds directly - including loans and grants - then applies them to your account: once in the fall term and once in the spring term. Grants can be used to cover your tuition, books, and housing costs. You must apply for grants each academic year. If you have any loan funds in excess of your costs, you may receive a refund. If you are a first-time borrower, there is a 30-day hold on your first disbursement. For all of these grants, you must complete the Free Application Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as it is available.

Iowa Tuition Grant
To be eligible for the Iowa Tuition Grant, you must be a resident of Iowa as defined by the State Board of Regents and currently enrolled or planning to enroll in an undergraduate degree program at an eligible Iowa college or university (SAU is eligible). Iowa College Aid administers need-based college financial aid for Iowans, such as the Iowa Tuition Grant.
Award: $7,500 maximum

Federal Pell Grant
Awarded to students of the highest need based on how much your family can contribute to your education. The U.S. Department of Education sets a threshold. Then, when you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it computes where you land within that threshold and determines if you qualify for the grant and for how much.
Award: $6,895 maximum

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
You must file a FAFSA to qualify for a Pell Grant. This grant is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to students who have submitted all required documents for review and in time for the review to be complete. If you are eligible for a Pell Grant or SEOG, the awards will appear on your financial aid award letter.
Award: $400 maximum

Federal Work Study
Must secure campus employment.
Award: $2,560

Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant 
Provides aid to students intending to teach in a high-need field at a school that serves low-income families (as determined by the U.S. Department of Education or a state education agency). Review criteria and all details here.
Award: up to $4,000

Outside Scholarships

There are many opportunities to receive scholarships from outside sources, here are a few websites to begin researching your options:

Another tip: Next time you're on campus, check out the bulletin board outside Student Financial Services where we post more flyers and applications for outside scholarships.

Ana Sperling '19

Ana achieved an amazing academic feat: she earned her degree in political science in three years and completed internships with Cobham Mission Systems, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (IA-4), and the Quad City Times. Her goal is a career that dives into public policy, perhaps working local or state government, in a state or federal agency, or as a prosecutor.

Read Ana's Story
Rachel Molsberry Headshot mobile size Rachel Molsberry Headshot

Rachel Molsberry

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science,Equal Justice Works Fellow,Class of 2014

We believe your SAU experience should lead to personal discovery, like it did for Rachel. That is why we offer all students an educational foundation grounded in the Liberal Arts and Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

See My Story

Apply Visit Info


L. Joseph Hebert, PhD, Department Chair

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

So, what's next?

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