Nov 30, 2022  
2019-2020 General Catalog 

Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice

Person IconDepartment Chair
Kevan Jacobson – GC 406N – (435) 865-8615
Faculty IconFaculty & Staff
Person IconAssistant Department Chair
Delane Smith – GC 406L – (435) 586-5410
Advisor IconStudent Success Advisors
Admin Assistant IconAdministrative Assistant
Susie Prince – GC 406E – (435) 865-8420
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Overview of Programs

The disciplines within this department have faculty which have both academic and practitioner experience. This allows our programs to provide a theory-based curriculum with a strong emphasis on practical application and interpretation by providing special, unique learning opportunities. After successfully completing a degree through this department, a student will be well prepared to enter the job force and/or to continue into graduate school. 


Political Science

Political Science is devoted to the study of the theory and practice of government and politics. The Political Science program complements a student’s liberal arts education with an emphasis on understanding the theoretical and practical aspects of political philosophy, public administration, law, international relations, comparative politics, American government and politics, and public policy.

Criminal Justice

The Criminal Justice program provides students with extensive knowledge of the U.S. Criminal Justice System, comprised of law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Students will develop the capacity to apply law, social sciences, and sound practices as criminal justice professionals in the public and private sectors. The program also provides students a foundation upon which to pursue advanced education in the criminal justice field.

Legal Studies

The mission of the Undergraduate Legal Studies Program is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to work effectively, competently, ethically, and successfully as paralegals in a law office/firm, corporation/business entity, government agency, or the public sector, as well as to support students in seeking their goals of attending law school and becoming attorneys.

Public Administration

Our mission is to prepare pre-service and in-service students to meet the challenges of public and nonprofit service. We develop student knowledge and competencies through scholarly activity, experiential learning, and applied research. Our coursework presents a framework of understanding based on academic materials and skill development through activities, projects, and assignments. Our faculty members promote public service values, leadership and managements skills, and ethical decision-making in all aspects of public and nonprofit sector organizations. Our on-campus and online students have comparable academic experiences that develop knowledge and skills for public service.

Department/Program Learning Outcomes

Political Science

Students who complete the Political Science program will demonstrate the following competencies:

  1. Students will develop an understanding of the scholarship, analytical methods, and theories of politics in one or more of the discipline’s four sub-fields: American Politics, International Relations, Comparative Politics, and/or Political Theory.
  2. Students will develop a mastery of critical thinking skills by evaluating political developments both in individual and research and in course discussions.
  3. Students will develop and hone a mastery of writing skills by communicating their perspectives, empirical findings, interpretations, and the conclusions of their research on political issues, policies, institutions, and behavior.
  4. Students will be exposed to and understand alternative perspectives on political affairs by engaging in internships, study abroad, community service, and other experiential learning opportunities.

Criminal Justice

  1. Students will identify the functions, operations, and challenges of the U.S. Criminal Justice System, including law enforcement, courts, and corrections.
  2. Students will recognize the basic legal, constitutional, ethical, and moral challenges confronting criminal justice personnel.
  3. Students will employ critical and creative thinking individually as well as a member of a team.
  4. Students will demonstrate effectiveness in written and oral communication.

Legal Studies

Students who complete the Legal Studies program will demonstrate the following competencies:

  1. Skills necessary to work effectively as a paralegal within a legal work environment.
  2. An understanding of ethical rules for the conduct of legal professionals and their implications.
  3. A knowledge of basic legal terminology.
  4. The ability to understand the application of procedural and substantive law within the American Legal System.
  5. The ability to perform legal analysis and to apply that analysis.

Public Administration

The program competencies are:

  1. To lead, manage, and apply effective public governance.
  2. To participate and contribute to the public, fiscal, and economic policy process.
  3. Solve problems using analytics, critical thinking, and conceptualize and apply best practices.
  4. To articulate and apply public service perspectives norms and legal standards.
  5. To communicate orally and in writing and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry.

Other Information

Honor Societies

The Department sponsors three honor societies: Pi Alpha Alpha (public administration), Alpha Phi Sigma (criminal justice) and Pi Sigma Alpha (political science). Admission rewards high academic achievement and fosters campus and community involvement.


Students are encouraged to take advantage of the many internship opportunities that arise in political science, criminal justice, and legal studies. In the past, internships have included an opportunity to work in the White House, U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, Utah Supreme Court, and numerous national, state and local agencies, courts, and law offices. Internships are student-driven opportunities in which the student takes an active role in development of the opportunity to meet career and educational goals. For more information about student internships, contact the department chair or program director.

Transfer Credits Accepted Toward Degree

The Department will accept no more than one third of the total credits required for the major as transfer credits from other institutions. The maximum transfer credits which may be applied to a Criminal Justice major is 15; to a Political Science major, 12. The Legal Studies Program follows the university policy regarding transfer work. Transfer credits not covered by articulation, or those which we do not currently teach, must be approved by the Department.

W. Edwards Deming Incubator for Public Affairs at Southern Utah University

The W. Edwards Deming Incubator for Public Affairs (WEDIPA) at Southern Utah University works collaboratively with The W. Edwards Deming Institute (WEDI) to promote new avenues in academic research and project-based teaching and learning initiatives emphasizing the SoPK (System of Profound Knowledge) in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.


    Associate’s DegreeBachelor’s DegreeCertificate (Undergraduate)MinorAdd-On Program