Welcome to Political Science

With four central strengths — Canadian Politics, Global Politics, Politics & Business, and Public Policy & Administration — Political Science at Waterloo offers innovative specializations and career-relevant minors that explore Ideas for Changing the World.

Welcome to Political Science at the University of Waterloo, Canada’s most innovative university. Ours is one of the top-ranked departments of political science of its size in Canada. Our faculty have been recognized nationally and internationally through numerous prestigious awards, including Fulbright, Killam, and Trudeau fellowships. Many of our faculty have won distinguished scholar and publication awards from leading professional associations, including the International Studies Association, the Canadian Political Science Association, the Western Historical Association, and the Canadian Anthropology Society. Several of our faculty members have also won awards for excellence in research, teaching, or service from the University. 

As a medium-sized department, Political Science has several advantages. We are large enough that we have substantial expertise in all the major fields of Canadian Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations and Global Politics, Political Theory, and Public Policy and Administration. Yet, we are small enough that our students can maintain close contact with their professors and with one another. With more than four out of five of all undergraduate courses and all regular-term first-year courses taught by full-time faculty, students can develop long-term learning relationships with their professors as they proceed through their chosen program from introductory to senior-level courses. The faculty are strongly committed to their students’ success.

Our department also provides exciting opportunities for understanding the real world of politics. As one of three experiential learning pathways, our ‘engagement pathway’ gives students exciting opportunities to fulfil their Political Science degree by participating in international exchanges, international field courses, research assistantships, or undertaking community placements as volunteers, among other options. Students in work-integrated learning can opt for the university’s world-renowned co-op program, either as Honours Political Science majors or as double majors in Honours Political Science and Business.

At the graduate level, we offer an MA and a PhD in Political Science (with co-op options), and a Master of Public Service. Our faculty also contribute as instructors and supervisors to the MA and PhD in Global Governance, which is housed at the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

All of our students are encouraged to make connections between theory and practice; to develop important writing, research, and presentation skills; and to excel as critical thinkers and engaged members of their communities. Given our department’s student-centred programming and our strong commitment to community engagement and skills-building, it is not surprising that so many of our alumni in the private, public, and non-profit sectors get noticed, including as Faculty of Arts Young Alumni Award winners!

Undergraduate studies

Our undergraduate BA degree in political science teaches students how to navigate and respond to the challenges of the global political landscape. The degree emphasizes both classroom learning with award-winning instructors and experiential learning in the real world to develop important skills for a complex future (such as self-management, self-assessment, lifelong learning, communication, collaboration, innovation mindset and  critical thinking).

Students will investigate a wide range of topics of contemporary significance such as migration, authoritarianism, Indigenous politics, gender and social justice, conflict and security, business and international economic development, public administration and policymaking.  Students can choose to learn about the complexities of domestic, regional, and global affairs by examining American, Canadian, Chinese, South Asian, Russian, Middle Eastern and Israeli politics.  

Our flexible curriculum in political science also offers four interdisciplinary minors in International Studies, International Trade, Canadian politics and Public Policy and Politics and Business that provide students with the opportunity to further deepen their knowledge.

Learn more about our undergraduate programs.

Master of Arts in Political Science

Our Masters of Arts in Political Science is designed to foster a deeper understanding of politics across the world at multiple scales (domestic, regional, global) while also allowing students to develop the analytical and professional skills required for success in both academic and non-academic job markets.

PhD in Political Science

Our PhD in Political Science is the most innovative program of its kind in Canada, offering students considerable flexibility in core research activities, formal professional development for both academic and non-academic career paths, an experiential option, and a teaching option.

Master of Public Service

The Master of Public Service is a graduate co-operative education program that equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experience they need for a public service career at any level of government in Canada. 

Global Governance MA and PhD programs

The Master of Arts in Global Governance is an interdisciplinary program with double-degree options designed to prepare students for career paths in the public, private, and civil society sectors, or to go on to doctoral study if they wish. It includes both internship opportunities and a Graduate Fellowship program run in conjunction with Global Affairs Canada.

The Global Governance Ph.D., offered jointly with Wilfrid Laurier University, is a small-cohort interdisciplinary degree suitable for students interested either in an academic career path or a non-academic career in which they can leverage advanced research, writing, and analytical skills.

Learn more about Global Governance programs.

The Department of Political Science acknowledges that we are living and working on the traditional territory of ‎the Attawandaron (also known as Neutral), Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.