Jan. 25, 2024

‘It’s been fantastic for me’

An NDSU political science degree gives students valuable knowledge and experience understanding government, public policy, international relations and much more.

Malcolm Strand, a senior from Fargo, said he became interested in politics after recent United States presidential elections and his mother’s struggle as a member of the PTA to save his elementary school.

“The school board proceeded with the closure by one vote, and a very vivid memory was having my mom come home after that night, tears in her eyes, and apologizing to me for not doing more to help save my school,” Strand said. “It led me to become more aware of our country’s leaders later on in life.”

Political science is the study of politics, policies and government. Some of the skills students obtain through a political science degree include communication, critical thinking and data analytics.  

Strand originally attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, but didn’t feel like he was adequately connected to others. He felt like he didn’t belong.

“When COVID hit the following spring, I took a year off before attending NDSU in fall 2021 because it was very affordable and its political science program is filled with wonderful professors. And it’s been fantastic for me,” he said.

Students at NDSU get the most out of the political science program through the wide range of classes. In addition to the introductory courses, which give students a baseline on how politics are practiced in the U.S. and the world, upper-level classes revolve around specific areas of student interest.

Nicholas Bauroth, NDSU department chair and professor of political science, said specialized areas consist of American government, constitutional law, international relations and comparative politics.  

“What we do in those classes is try and get you to look at things as they are, whether it’s exciting or boring,” Bauroth said.

In one of Bauroth’s classes, he has students look at a municipal budget to be able to tell the direction policies are going. In other classes, students look at international court cases related to crimes against humanities.

“We try and do stuff like that,” Bauroth said. “We’re actually looking at sometimes difficult, real-world stuff.”  

Strand said he has been able to learn a lot from his professors.

“My time in the political science program at NDSU has been wonderful,” he said. “While my main interest has been law, the many different kinds of political science classes I have taken have broadened my knowledge across the board.”

Strand also has been able to work on several projects to gain real-world experience. One of his favorite class projects was a mock international criminal tribunal in an international criminal law class taught by Thomas Ambrosio.  

“It involved gathering evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt as to a country’s alleged crimes,” he said. “It was hard work, but it was incredibly rewarding from an experience standpoint.”

In addition to classes, students in the program can obtain hands-on experience through the department’s political science internship possibilities. Students are encouraged to join organizations, including Pre-Law Club, Pi Sigma Alpha, College Democrats and College Republicans.

Strand is involved in the Student Court in Student Government, where he serves as Assistant Justice alongside Chief Justice Grace McCulloch. He also is on the executive board for NDSU’s Residence Hall Association, where he has served as the Administrative Director since November 2022. Strand recommends any student interested in political science get involved in one or both organizations.  

Those with a political science degree can find careers in various political and government-related professions, along with careers in business and non-profit organizations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, political scientists have a faster than average job outlook with an expected 7% job growth by 2032.

Bauroth said he has seen many students go to law school, non-profit organizations and local government jobs. With the recently launched master of public policy program, students also can take a path to becoming a policy analyst.  

“I think the degree provides a lot of flexibility,” Bauroth said.  

Scheduled to graduate in spring, Strand wants to attend law school to specialize in media and copyright law. Strand said the class papers and projects have helped him gain experience in research he’ll be able to apply to law school and his future job.

Strand said students interested in political science will find support within the Department of Political Science and Public Policy.

“I would tell students that by far the best part is the professors, who are some of the best teachers I’ve had in my 17 long years in school,” Strand said. “They will stop at nothing to help you succeed and find your passion.

Apply now to begin your own NDSU journey or schedule a visit to see what we have to offer.

For more on Malcolm’s experience, visit the official NDSU YouTube channel.

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