Department of Political Science

College of Letters & Science
HomeAmerican Politics

American Politics

The field of American Politics encompasses the study of the structure and dynamics of mass behavior and opinion and of the major governmental and extragovernmental institutions, their interrelationships, their historical evolution and their role in the policy process. Specifically, the field covers the major national government institutions (presidency, Congress, bureaucracy and courts); subnational governments and the federal system; extragovernmental organizations such as parties, interest groups and social movements; the behavior and opinions of elites and masses who operate within these institutions and organizations who may seek (as in the case of elections and voting) to influence them; the impact of institutions, organizations, and actors on public policy; the determinants of public policy; the legal and constitutional context in which politics occurs; and changes in all of these elements and their relations with each other and with society over time. The UW American Politics program is ranked by US News as one of the top 10 in the country.