Welcome to the Department of Political Science!


The mission of the Political Science Department is to promote responsible citizenship, prepare students for jobs in County, State, and Federal institutions, and qualify our majors for acceptance to top-notch graduate programs and law schools. The Political Science program is designed to provide majors with exposure to a broad range of topics within the field of Political Science and train students in the techniques and theories used by political scientists to explore, describe, and explain political phenomena. The UH Hilo Political Science program prides itself on small classes, personal advising, and quality education with aloha.

Departmental Offerings

Majors, Minor, and Certificate Options

The Department offers two majors (Political Science and Administration of Justice), a minor (Political Science) and a certificate (International Studies). All the major subfields of political science, including American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, public administration and public law, are offered in the major.

Service to the University

Introductory courses in American Politics, Public Law, Comparative Politics, Political Theory, and International Relations serve the general education program. The Department offers courses that contribute to a variety of majors and programs, including the Women's Studies Certificate, the Filipino Studies Certificate, the Geography and Environmental Sciences Department, the Sociology Department, the Japanese Studies Major, and the US-China Relations Program.

Future Career Avenues

Job Opportunities

Political Science majors receive training that permits them to enter careers in law, government, interest groups and political advocacy, campaign management, journalism, and education (with supplemental coursework in education). A sampling of our recent graduates shows employment in such careers as prosecutor, public defender, IRS Attorney, elected state representative, police department captain, newspaper editor, journalist, and county government administrator.

Post-Baccalaureate Education

Many of our graduates have gone on to pursue law and graduate degrees. The Department houses the UH Hilo Pre-Law Advisor (Dr. Sarah Marusek) and UH Hilo Faculty Representative (Dr. Sarah Marusek) for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, a nationally competitive graduate education and professional development scholarship focused on public service leadership (website link).

Student Engagement


The Political Science Department sponsors a number of hands-on activities to broaden and deepen the students’ knowledge of political science. Among these are a variety of internships in local, state, and federal agencies, as well as a spring internship in the office of a state legislator. Political science students who demonstrate mastery of the subject matter, professional competence, and responsibility are eligible to participate in these internship programs. Through the internship programs, students gain a unique experience in politics and government that supplements their coursework and may enhance their post-graduation employment prospects. Dr. Todd Belt directs the Internship Program (website link).


Open to all students at the university, the Department hosts the Political Science Club (website link) and Hui Na Lahui Huipu (Model United Nations Club) (website link)

Under Faculty Advisor, Dr. Katherine Young, the Political Science Club serves the educational and social interests of students and provides leadership opportunities for club officers. Club members arrange activities and events that promote awareness of political issues.

Under Faculty Advisor, Dr. Su-Mi Lee, Hui Na Lahui Huipu (the Model United Nations Club) sponsors a team that competes each April in the National Model United Nations in New York City and the only team that competes in New York City from the state of Hawaiʻi.

Senior Thesis Projects

Motivated students are encouraged by the Political Science faculty to embark on the journey of authoring a senior thesis, a research effort that will be assigned and guided by an individual faculty member.

Pi Sigma Alpha, Political Science Honor Society

Exceptional students may apply to become members of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s Iota Iota chapter of the National Political Science Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha (website link). Dr. Todd Belt is the Faculty Advisor for Pi Sigma Alpha.