Political Science

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Those with a passion for politics will find the political science major to be hands-on at Mary Baldwin. In-depth study and analysis, in addition to classroom simulations, bring the subject to life. Small class size allows for individual attention and small group discussions. Political science majors also have a rich and diverse history of internships, adding real world experience to the classroom.

Students can pursue a BA with a major in political science. Political science also is available as a minor.

Why study political science at Mary Baldwin University?

At Mary Baldwin University, students of political science do more than hear lectures and participate in discussions. Class group projects, computer simulations, data manipulation exercises, and online research challenges combine to create a diverse academic experience.

In addition to coursework, extracurricular activities allow for political science majors to become some of the most highly-involved student leaders on campus. Moreover, political science courses attract a diverse cross section of students from all of the Mary Baldwin’s programs. Large numbers of majors in recent years have been part of the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted and the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership.

Our courses are also of increasing interest to non-majors in all disciplines. Students can learn about practical aspects of government and politics while living on our historic Staunton campus. Since most students in the traditional-aged population live on campus, some choose to enroll for internship credit for their work in city and county government offices. Others intern in local law firms and administrative agencies. All can earn political science credit for these experiences. Others complete their internships off campus during Mary Baldwin’s May Term, or during the summer in Richmond, in Washington D.C., and throughout the United States.

The goal of most Mary Baldwin students is to find a meaningful job in the work force. To prepare for the world of work, political science majors finish their undergraduate degree by researching and writing a major project, the senior thesis. In recent years, students have moved on to diverse fields of post graduate experience.

Professor Laura van Assendelft served as an intern for Virginia’s U.S. Senator John Warner when she was an undergraduate at Sewanee (University of the South), much like dozens of Mary Baldwin political science students have done in other Congressional and governmental offices. This still is an excellent way for current Mary Baldwin University students to learn about the practical world of government and politics, and to learn if a career in government and politics harmonizes with their personal goals.

Here are some examples of externships completed by Mary Baldwin University political science students in recent years:

Legal internships:

  • Office of the Corporation Counsel, Washington DC
  • Law Offices of Timberlake, Smith, Thomas and Moses, Staunton VA
  • Office of the Clerk of the Courts, City of Staunton VA
  • Office of Hon. John Hughes, U.S. District Court, Trenton NJ
  • Office of the Public Defender, Prince George’s County MD
  • Paralegal, Blue Ridge Legal Services, Harrisonburg VA

Government internships:

  • European Division, Office of Research, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, U.S. Department of State, Washington D.C.
  • Public Affairs Office for U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, Washington D.C.
  • Anti-Fraud Unit, U.S. Department of State: U.S. Embassy, Manila, Philippines
  • Mision Permanente de Nicaragua, Organizacion de los Estados Americanos (OAS), Washington D.C.

Congressional internships:

  • Office of U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA), Washington D.C.
  • Office of U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman (FL), Washington D.C.
  • Office of U.S. Rep. Richard Gephart (MO), Washington D.C.
  • Office of U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA), Washington D.C. and Staunton, VA
  • Office of U.S. Sen. Bill Frist (TN), Kingsport TN

State Government internships:

  • Dept. of Economic Development, City of Staunton VA
  • Office of the Director of Community Development, Augusta County VA
  • Office of the District Attorney of the 7th Judicial Circuit, AL
  • Public Safety Division, Office of Governor George Allen, Richmond VA
  • Dept. of Public Utilities, Virginia Beach VA

Other internship sites:

  • Maya Research Program of St. Mary’s University, Belize
  • Battele Memorial Institute, Arlington VA
  • Site Corporate Initiatives (Public Outreach Project of IBM Corporation): United Way of Greater Charlotte NC
  • Central American Resource Center, Washington D.C.
  • Commonwealth Consultants, Vienna VA
  • Public Affairs and Marketing Division, Virginia Hospital Corporation, Arlington VA
  • Project Horizon, Lexington VA



An extensive list of links and resources, in the following categories, has been compiled for students who study political science.

  • News sources
  • Specialized Tools for Studying U.S. Politics and U.S. Foreign policy
  • Journals of Opinion
  • Public Opinion Research Tools
  • Resources on Human Rights Conditions
  • Other Resources on International Problems
  • Political Science Research Journals
  • Leadership Studies Journals
  • Libraries
  • Sites for Studying Women in U.S. Politics
  • Sites for Studying U.S. Public Law and Constitutional Law


Sarah Andrews

Assistant Professor of Political Science (part-time); BA, Principia College; MA, PhD, University...
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Laura A. Van Assendelft

Professor of Political Science; BA, University of the South; PhD, Emory University...
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Mandi M. Smith

Adjunct Faculty Member; BS, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; JD, Washington...
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