I am often asked: “What distinguishes the University of Washington Political Science Department?” The answer is not simple as there are many distinctions, but these can be summed up in terms of accomplishment, commitment, and collegiality. Simply put, this is a wonderful department with exceptionally talented faculty and graduate students, strong graduate and undergraduate programs, more than able staff, and a great location.
The research accomplishments of our faculty include numerous lifetime achievement awards, book and article awards, prestigious fellowships, and extensive research funding. Added to these are the accomplishments of our graduate students with notable fellowships and a very strong placement record of which we are especially proud. Our various research centers and institutes provide the basis for many of these accomplishments along with notable clusters of strength in research, graduate education, and civic outreach. I encourage prospective graduate applicants to look closely at our disciplinary strengths, the activities of the research centers, and our graduate placement record.
Our commitment as a department is very strong to our graduate program and to a range of activities that enhance the life of undergraduates in a large university. Graduate students have flexibility in constructing their degree emphases, plenty of opportunities to gain teaching experience, and are heavily involved in research and publishing with faculty mentors. We have a model undergraduate honors program; a variety of opportunities for undergraduates to get involved in faculty research; internship opportunities in the local area, with the legislature in Olympia, and in Washington DC; study abroad options; service learning components of many courses; and an active chapter of the political science national honor society.
The collegiality is evident by the friendly faces you find to greet you at the office, among our talented advising staff, and uniformly among teaching assistants and faculty. We actually do get along and don’t complain about the weather that much. It helps that Seattle is a great place to be a student or, for that matter, a faculty member.
There is no question that these are difficult times in higher education especially for public universities. Regardless of how our fiscal future plays out, I am more than confident that we will continue to build on past accomplishments, will sustain our commitment to quality graduate and undergraduate education, and won’t lose our strong sense of collegiality. Please do explore what we have to offer.
Peter J. May