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Facts: Department of Political Science

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Political science focuses on the theory and practice of politics in the US and around the world. We are dedicated to studying the institutions and processes that constitute public life, to understanding the exercise of political power, and to providing education that instills citizenship.

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  • Political Science is the second largest major in the social sciences and the fifth largest major in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Political science students develop important job and life skills through classes that challenge them to evaluate conflicting perspectives on political controversies. Alumni include many prominent community and business leaders.
  • Two well-established internship programs—in the state legislature and Washington D.C.—have provided valuable internships to many hundreds of students since 1956.
  • Faculty members regularly win awards for research and teaching.



Students of political science learn how social science methods can help to develop a better understanding of government and politics. Undergraduates acquire knowledge of political institutions in the United States and around the world. Students learn to think critically as they evaluate conflicting claims about what government can and should do. They explore how mass political behavior influences law and policy, and study how government capacities and popular commitments to democracy vary across time and location. Courses in political science use award-winning teaching technology and help students develop sought-after analytic skills. They learn how to sort through conflicting information to develop sound ideas about complicated issues and how to communicate effectively on controversial topics. Our research centers, writing center, and honors program provide additional opportunity to strengthen research and writing skills.

Our doctoral program prepares the next generation of scholars for careers in academics and the public and private sectors. During their time at the UW, doctoral students make critical contributions to the department’s undergraduate teaching mission.Many go on to careers at some of the top universities in the U.S. and abroad.


  • 882 Undergraduate majors
  • 48 Graduate students
  • 6,313 Annual student course enrollments (Summer 2019-Spring 2020)

* Spring 2020

Degrees Awarded*

  • 356 Bachelor of Arts degrees
  • 4 Master of Arts degrees
  • 7 PhD degrees

* July 2019-June 2020

Student Scholarships and Awards*

  • Rhodes Scholarship finalist
  • Harry S. Truman Scholarship
  • Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship
  • UW President’s Medalist
  • UW Excellence in Teaching Award
  • UW Graduate School Distinguished Dissertation Award
  • UW College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medalist
  • UW College of Arts and Science Graduate Medalist
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
  • Presidential Dissertation Fellowship in the Social Sciences (UW)
  • Chester Fritz and Boeing International Graduate Research Fellowship
  • U.S. Dept of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship

* since 2015



  • 14 Professors
  • 8 Associate Professors
  • 4 Assistant Professors

* as of Autumn 2020

Department of Political Science faculty awards and honors include:

Grant Awards:

  • National Science Foundation Grant recipients
  • American Council of Learned Societies
  • Annenberg Policy Foundation
  • Carnegie Foundation
  • Environmental Protection Administration
  • Ford Foundation
  • German Marshall Fund Fellowships
  • Guggenheim Fellowship
  • Hewlett Foundation
  • MacArthur Foundation
  • Ministerio de Educacion Y Ciencia Investigadore Extranjeros (Spain)
  • National Council of Social Studies
  • Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Russell Sage Foundation
  • Social Science Research Council
  • US Department of State
  • US Institute of Peace
  • US Agency for International Development


  • Recent leadership positions in the American Political Science Association, International Studies Association, and Western Political Science Association
  • President, Law & Society Association
  • Numerous national awards for outstanding books, articles, papers and fieldwork
  • Founding Editor, Cambridge University Press Book Series on Business and Public Policy
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, European Union Studies Association
  • APSA Award for Graduate Mentoring
  • ASPA Award for Best Educational Website
  • Award of Excellence in Interactive Design, Communication Arts

University Awards:

  • Distinguished Teaching and Excellence in Teaching Awards
  • James D. Clowes Award for the Advancement of Learning Communities
  • Marsha Landolt Award for Graduate Mentoring



Faculty (often in collaboration with graduate students) conduct cutting edge, internationally recognized, research that is published in peer-reviewed books and journal articles. In American Politics, specialties include policy processes, law and politics, politics and race, political communications, and constitutional development. Comparative Politics professors have expertise in Europe, China, Africa, and Latin America. They focus on political economy, the expansion of international judicial institutions, explaining decisions by central bankers, using technology to prevent electoral fraud, and the politics of religion. Faculty members in the International Relations field study international political economy and international security, with particular expertise in voluntary environmental agreements and the role of emotion in international conflicts. Faculty expertise in Political Theory includes American political thought, human rights, and feminist political theory.

Several major interdisciplinary research centers are affiliated with Political Science, including the Center for Environmental Politics, Center for American Politics and Public Policy, Comparative Law and Society Studies Center, Center for Civic Communication and Engagement, Bridges Center for Labor Studies, Center for Human Rights, and Washington Institute for the Study of Inequality and Race.

Areas of Research

  • American Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Political Theory
  • Political Economy
  • Political Science Methodology
  • Law and Society
  • Public Policy
  • Political Communication
  • Race and Ethnicity Politics
  • Environmental Politics
  • Politics and Religion
  • Labor Studies



The department hosts regular speaker series that offer opportunities for the public to engage with leading academics from the University of Washington and elsewhere. Faculty participate in community events around the Puget Sound region, write opinion pieces for prominent outlets such as the Seattle Times, New York Times and Washington Post, and are frequently interviewed by major national and international media outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Bloomberg, Univision News, and BBC-TV. Faculty also engage in outreach by producing podcasts and by developing civic engagement resources for use in high schools and colleges across the U.S.



Department of Political Science
Box 353530
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-2780


Fact sheet last updated December 2020