The University of Notre Dame’s Department of Political Science has been named one of the top 10 undergraduate programs in political science nationwide, according to a list developed by College Factual.
“The ranking is exciting for us,” said Michael Desch, professor and chair of the department. “It is always good to get this sort of external validation.”
College Factual rates schools and programs with an emphasis on objective data, stressing outcome-based metrics such as early-career and mid-career salaries. The ranking also considers percentage of students in the university in that major and the availability of courses in related subjects.
“When asked about the strengths that make the political science major at Notre Dame successful and popular,” Desch said, “I point to several factors that are more difficult to measure, but which for us are in harmony with the factors the ranking reflects.
“We have many outstanding teachers. We offer a large number and range of courses on engaging subjects. Our major gives students a foundation that can help them achieve their goals—but also helps them explore, discover new interests, and deepen their understanding of themselves and the world.”
Notre Dame political science alumni go on to successful careers in a wide variety of fields, he noted, including law, government, business, academia, and the not-for-profit world.
“The major allows students to chart their own course in college and beyond,” said political science major Colin Slaggert ’13, who is now an associate consultant at Bain & Company, a Chicago-based consulting firm.
Slaggert said his political science major prepared him for the position by teaching him to think critically about a wide range of societal problems.
“Consulting, in many ways, is a job of analysis and problem solving,” he said. “In political science, you try to answer the world’s toughest questions—Is humanitarian intervention a good thing? How should we deal with inequality? What should we do about rogue nuclear states?
“If you can think critically and write convincingly about these tough issues, then you can work to solve any problem in the ‘real world.’”
Facing those real-world problems in ways that are consistent with the mission of the University is, perhaps, the most important factor in the success of the department’s graduates, said Desch.
“We believe in what we do at Notre Dame, and we believe that ultimately, the best thing a college education can do to prepare students for the future is to help them understand how they can put their faith and values to work, to help them use their intellectual abilities with purpose,” he said.
“This is where all the factors come together—exceptional faculty and a stimulating curriculum that challenges students within a caring, supportive community that teaches students what it means to live with purpose. To me, this is what makes us stand out.”