The study of political science has deep roots at the University of South Carolina, extending back many years prior to the department’s founding in 1937. Francis Lieber—the namesake of Lieber College on USC’s historic Horseshoe, and a member of the “South Carolina College” faculty from 1835-1856—was the first scholar in the United States to assume the title Professor of Political Science. In the years since, distinguished faculty at the University of South Carolina have studied and shared with students their insights about major trends and transformations in the world of politics.
Today, the department is home to a vibrant intellectual community of scholars and students. The department’s faculty engages with more than 5,000 students inside and outside the classroom each year, a number that includes over 800 undergraduate majors and 100 graduate students working in one of three graduate programs. Uniting these scholars and students is a common interest in advancing the critical understanding of how the world of politics works, why it both persists and changes over time, and how it might be improved. Undergraduates are encouraged to develop their more particular interests and aspirations through a wide variety of course offerings and outside-the-classroom experiences and opportunities. Graduate students are able to develop the knowledge and skills needed to successfully pursue their interests in professional careers related to international studies, or in public administration and policy, or in the Ph.D. program in Political Science.
The department’s faculty members, whose research and teaching interests span the main fields and subfields of the discipline, have secured national and international recognition for their cutting-edge research, ability to win external funding, teaching prowess, and commitment to public service. And a number of them have assumed leadership positions in professional organizations and have served as editors and editorial board members for leading journals. Their diligence and dedication explains why the department is ranked among the top thirty-five political science departments in the nation’s public universities, and why it is among the University of South Carolina’s largest and most respected academic units. The department also boasts one of the best public law programs in the country, one of the best public administration programs in the Southeast, as well as such innovative programs as a university minor in leadership studies.