Strategic Plan

The Department of Political Science is committed to the Flagship agenda and its objective to increase the national visibility of the Department, our faculty, and our graduate students.

The Flagship Vision of the Department of Political Science is to be among the finest research and teaching departments, with an internationally recognized faculty of scholars, whose students are intellectually and professionally prepared to become productive members of the academy, as well as productive citizens of Louisiana, the nation, and the world.

The Mission of the Department of Political Science is:

  • to provide LSU students with the knowledge and analytical skills necessary to be responsible citizens, contributing to the well-being of the state and the nation;
  • to contribute to a deeper understanding of politics and government through faculty research and publications;
  • to serve as a resource of expertise for national, state, and local government;
  • to provide political science majors with the education required to pursue successful careers in government, academics, and the private sector; and
  • to provide graduate training for PhD and MA students in political science that reflects state-of-the-art substantive and methodological instruction in all specialization areas, and to produce graduate students with superior research, teaching, and professional skills.

Strategic Direction 1

To ensure the recruitment and retention of a quality faculty, with adequate resources to support their professional activities.

The Department of Political Science has a tenure track faculty of 22.75 and one instructor. The Department is incredibly productive in terms of research articles in peer reviewed journals as well as research monographs. The table below demonstrates that LSU was ranked 10th among Ph.D. granting institutions for publication rates among the top five leading political science journals: ____________________________________________________________________________ Table 1 Rankings of Ph.D.-granting political science departments, based on per-faculty publications in five leading political science journals, 1994-1998 ____________________________________________________________________________ Rank/University

  1. Carnegie-Mellon University
  2. California Institute of Technology
  3. SUNY, Stony Brook
  4. University of Houston
  5. University of California, Riverside
  6. University of California , Davis
  7. Indiana University
  8. Texas A&M University
  9. University of North Texas
  10. Louisiana State University
  11. Yale University
  12. Florida State University
  13. University of Iowa
  14. University of Pittsburgh
  15. University of Colorado
  16.  Washington University, St. Louis
  17. University of California, Los Angeles
  18. Emory University
  19. University of Rochester
  20. Michigan State University

Rankings are based on the number of publications per department faculty member (weighted by co-authorship) in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, and Policy.

Source: McCormick and Rice, 1998. Source: McCormick and Rice (2001). Note that the table from which these rankings are drawn in the original article was incorrect; the corrected table was obtained directly from the senior author. The Department is confident that this ranking will remain constant or improve as the publications of our junior faculty are included. The Department has been very successful at hiring and retaining exceptional young scholars.

These data do not, of course, include the dozens of research monographs, edited volumes and major textbooks published by our faculty that have been influential in the field.

Adding to the sense of a department making great strides nationally and within the LSU community, the Department of Political Science was well received in the 2010 National Research Council (NRC) Report. In the fall of 2010 the NRC released its “Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctoral Programs in the United States.” The LSU Department of Political Science showed a marked increase in its national rankings (up from 74th in 1993 to 53rd out of 106 PhD-granting departments in 2010), where it was ranked ahead of the political science departments at Georgetown, the University of Notre Dame, University of Iowa, University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins, University of Georgia, and University of Florida. Within LSU itself, the Department of Political Science is now the 6th highest ranked program (of 36 evaluated) in the university.

To maintain and increase the Department’s national visibility associated with hiring exceptional faculty members, the faculty have identified several associated objectives.

Objective 1.1

To engage responsibly in the recruitment of faculty, using University and professional resources to ensure that the very best of available candidates are selected for appointment.


Objective 1.2

To ensure that, once hired, faculty are given adequate resources to pursue active research agendas and to teach rigorous and informative classes.


Objective 1.3

To provide a continuous program of faculty development, using mentors and departmental and University consultation procedures to advise faculty on teaching and research strategies.


Objective 1.4

To ensure that departmental evaluation procedures are fair and equitable.


Objective 1.5

To reward productive faculty with competitive and appropriate faculty salary increases as well as tenure and promotion.

Five Year Implementation of these Objectives Without Additional Resources:

  • Create two departmental awards: teaching and research.
  • Allocate more departmental resources to enhance faculty travel budgets for graduate faculty members.
  • Evaluate and refine departmental annual evaluation process.
  • Institute mentor program for new, untenured faculty.
  • Engage in departmental fund raising to secure monies to support teaching and research.
  • Nominate faculty for national awards and councils.

Five Year Implementation of these Objectives With Additional Resources:

  • Hire 3 new faculty to reach average critical mass of 25 for doctoral granting departments.
  • Annual faculty raises to raise salaries to national standards.
  • Enhanced library and computer resources for faculty teaching and research. Example: New computers for each faculty member every four years.


Strategic Direction 2

To provide a comprehensive undergraduate degree program and to provide a variety of rigorous, analytical and contemporary political science courses to students in all majors in the University.

The popularity of our undergraduate program, driven in no small part by the Department’s spectacular teaching faculty, has continued to increase as evidenced by the figures below. Over the past dozen years, the number of political science majors at LSU has experienced an increase of 54.6 percent. Currently, students majoring in political science comprise 12.2 percent of all majors in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The number of POLI majors decreased temporarily starting in 2007-2008, primarily as a result of the creation of the new major in International Studies, but has recovered momentum over the past two years. The number of political science majors will likely grow, as 17.6 percent of all UCFY students in the Humanities and Social Sciences are indicated political science majors (up from 11.3 percent for Fall semester 2007). __________________________________________________________________________ Table 2 Undergraduate Majors in Political Science __________________________________________________________________________ 


1999-2000 288 2000-2001 299 2001-2002 401 2002-2003 490 2003-2004 520 2004-2005 547 2005-2006 551 2006-2007 590 2007-2008 527 2008-2009 450 2009-2010 408 2010-2011 474 ____________________________________________________________________________  

Likewise, the number of students minoring in political science peaked – as did our majors – in the middle years of the past decade. Currently, there are 168 LSU students with a political science minor, roughly equal to the number a decade ago (see Table 3 below). ____________________________________________________________________________

Table 3 Undergraduate Minors in Political Science ____________________________________________________________________________  

1999-2000 144 2000-2001 160 2001-2002 185 2002-2003 190 2003-2004 237 2004-2005 248 2005-2006 220 2006-2007 222 2007-2008 196 2008-2009 175 2009-2010 146 2010-2011 168 ____________________________________________________________________________ The Department has also seen increasing diversity among our student population. Currently, there are 107 African-American, Hispanic, and other racial minority students majoring in political science, up 24.4 percent from the 2002-2003 academic year. Over the past dozen years, the number of African-American political science majors has more than doubled, from 33 in 1999-2000 to 69 in 2010-2011. In terms of gender, over that same dozen year period, the number of women majoring in political science has increased from 131 to 185, an increase of 41.2 percent. As in other areas, a dip in numbers during the 2007-2009 period has been reversed over recent years. ____________________________________________________________________________  

Table 4 Undergraduate Diversity in Political Science Majors ____________________________________________________________________________ Year African-American Hispanic  Other  Female 1999-2000  33  ---  --- 131 2000-2001  45  ---  --- 125 2001-2002 47 -- -- 185 2002-2003 58 13 15 218 2003-2004 62 11 11 242 2004-2005 64 16 7 236 2005-2006 53 22 16 226 2006-2007 52 29 18 217 2007-2008 45 26 13 192 2008-2009 45 23 8 163 2009-2010 55 17 12 152 2010-2011 69 22 16 185 ____________________________________________________________________________  

The Department has identified several key objectives to increase the effectiveness of our undergraduate program.


Objective 2.1

To provide political science majors with critical and analytical skills, verbal and written communication skills, and knowledge of political ideas, processes and systems.

Objective 2.2

To provide all students with the knowledge and analytical skills necessary to be responsible citizens.

Objective 2.3

To maintain a broad selection of courses in American politics, international relations, comparative politics, and political theory.

Objective 2.4

To provide general education courses for all students and courses required for other curricula in the University, such as American government for Business and Education majors and several courses for a variety of interdisciplinary studies like international studies and political communication.

Objective 2.5

To guide and counsel political science and pre-law students in their selection of courses, degree requirements and professional aspirations.

Objective 2.6

To provide political science majors with education required to pursue successful careers in academics, government, and the private sector, or to pursue professional post-graduate degrees.

Objective 2.7

To create a classroom environment conducive to the acquisition of analytical skills and critical skills and a broad understanding of political ideas, processes and decision making systems.

Five Year Implementation of these Objectives Without Additional Resources:

  • Continuous review and revision of undergraduate curriculum.
  • Develop undergraduate methods course.
  • Develop interdisciplinary courses with other programs.
  • Track undergraduate majors to see what professional opportunities they pursue.
  • Provide more undergraduate counselors for majors and pre-law students.
  • Provide more opportunities for undergraduate research.

Five Year Implementation of these Objectives With Additional Resources:

  • Increase undergraduate majors by 20 percent.
  • Increase offerings for honors students: requires additional faculty.
  • Consider senior seminar for majors: requires additional faculty.
  • Multi-media maps and software for undergraduate teaching.
  • Enhanced library and computer resources.

Strategic Direction 3

To develop and maintain a graduate program of national caliber and rank.

The Department instituted a rigorous admissions requirement to insure quality candidates to admission. Despite this increased admissions hurdle, compared to our graduate student cohort ten years ago, the program has grown by approximately 25-30 percent. Our 2009-2010 graduate student census of 59 graduate students was the largest in the department’s history and is indicative of our growing reputation in the discipline. Over the past six years the graduate program has enrolled in excess of 50 students, and the ratio of doctoral-to-master degree students has kept steady at approximately 3 or 4 to 1. Currently, 81 percent of our graduate students are pursuing the doctoral degree. Also indicative of our growing strength in graduate education is the recent history of placing our PhD students on the faculties of top universities and colleges, such as Wake Forest University, the University of Maryland, Baylor University, West Virginia University, the University of Houston, Elon University, and Pacific Lutheran University. ____________________________________________________________________________  

Table 5 Graduate Students in Political Science ____________________________________________________________________________

1999-2000 48 2000-2001 38 2001-2002 39 2002-2003 37 2003-2004 41 2004-2005 45 2005-2006 51 2006-2007 53 2007-2008 50 2008-2009 53 2009-2010 59 2010-2011 54 ____________________________________________________________________________ The Department’s commitment to excellence in our graduate program is evidenced by the Department’s high ranking among graduate programs at LSU, based on the undergraduate GPA, and GRE verbal and quantitative scores of our enrolled students. By this measure, the most recent available data (2008) ranks Political Science graduate students 10th among the 60 graduate degree programs offered at LSU. To continue the excellence in our graduate program the Department has identified a number of objectives.

Objective 3.1

To provide graduate students with a sound and rigorous foundation in political science for successful careers in academics, government, and the private sector, including knowledge of leading ideas and paradigms and advanced analytical research skills.

Objective 3.2

To provide graduate students with sophisticated substantive expertise in the subfields of the discipline of political science.

Objective 3.3

To ensure an adequate selection of graduate seminars in all subfields of political science and to maintain a seminar environment conducive to advanced learning as well as a fair and equitable assessment of student performance in seminars and on graduate examinations.

Objective 3.4

To involve graduate students in the intellectual life of the department by offering colloquia, guest lectures, and opportunities to share research.

Objective 3.5

To ensure that adequate fellowship and assistantship opportunities are provided for graduate students and to assist them in seeking outside funding.

Objective 3.6

To ensure that adequate research and computer laboratory facilities are provided for graduate students.

Objective 3.7

To provide opportunities for graduate students to present research at professional conferences, to publish, and to work with faculty members on joint research and publication.

Objective 3.8

To provide opportunities for graduate students to teach and to be mentored in their teaching.

Objective 3.9

To assist students with placement upon receipt of their degrees.

Objective 3.10

To encourage graduate student participation in departmental governance.

Objective 3.11

To guide and mentor graduate students in their intellectual growth, their degree programs, and their professional development.

Five Year Implementation of these Objectives Without Additional Resources:

  • Effective use of departmental web page for graduate recruitment.
  • Monitor graduate students to discern professional placement and development.
  • Encourage faculty mentoring and joint publication with graduate students.
  • Review and revise graduate curriculum and field examination procedures.
  • Proactive recruitment of graduate students, letters to colleagues and telephone contacts with prospective students.

Five Year Implementation of these Objectives With Additional Resources:

  • Nine new graduate assistant lines.
  • Increased graduate assistantship stipends, from $10,750 to $14,000, with tuition exemption.
  • Resources for graduate program brochure and for subfield program brochures.
  • Enhanced library and computer resources.


Strategic Direction 4

To create an environment that leads to quality faculty research and publication. As noted above, the faculty are among the most prolific in terms of publications among the top ranked journals in the field. In addition, the faculty publish in a variety of nationally prominent journals and presses. Several objectives have been identified to increase the productivity of the faculty.


Objective 4.1

To encourage faculty to publish in premier journals and presses, to participate in political science conferences, and to give invitational lectures.

Objective 4.2

To support faculty with appropriate sabbatical and other research leave opportunities.

Objective 4.3

To support faculty with appropriate computer hardware and software resources and with appropriate technical support for those resources.

Objective 4.4

To support faculty with sufficient travel resources to attend conferences and invitational lectures.

Objective 4.5

To support research centers such as the Voegelin Institute.

Objective 4.6

To encourage and support pursuit of external grants that will enhance scholarly research.

Objective 4.7

To encourage faculty participation in departmental lectures and colloquia.

Five Year Implementation of these Objectives Without Additional Resources:

  • Encourage five faculty per year to apply for external grants and reward faculty who apply with additional travel funds or resource monies.
  • Create departmental research colloquia and institute a series of research methods workshops.
  • Attempt to raise monies for Humphrey and White Lectures.

Five Year Implementation of these Objectives With Additional Resources:

  • Enhance travel money per graduate faculty member.
  • Create departmental research budgets for data sets, grant seed money, and computer equipment.
  • Enhance resources for research workshops.
  • Enhance library and computer resources.


Strategic Direction 5

To encourage faculty to engage responsibly in service to the department, the discipline, the University and broader community activities.

Objective 5.1

To encourage faculty to serve responsibly on departmental standing and ad hoc committees.

Objective 5.3

To encourage faculty to serve on executive councils of international, national and regional professional societies and to provide the resources for them to do so.

Objective 5.3

To encourage faculty to serve as editors, editorial board members, book review editors, manuscript and grant referees, and program organizers and to provide the resources for them to do so.

Objective 5.4

To encourage faculty to serve responsibly on University and College committees and elected governing bodies.

Objective 5.5

To allow for faculty to act responsibly as political consultants, as advisors to public policymakers, as sources for media interviews and in community informational outreach.

Five Year Implementation of these Objectives Without Additional Resources:

  • Nominate faculty for a variety of national and international councils and boards.

Five Year Implementation of these Objectives With Additional Resources:

  • University funding of for support and travel for editorships and association leadership functions. December 2010