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Political Science


Political science is more than just examining government structures and discussing elites currently in office. It is the study of who has the power to make laws for a society, the institutional structures that guide how this power is used, who benefits and who loses when this power is used, and the relationship between power and policy in a society. Political science students therefore study voting, elections, the structures of government institutions, and how governments around the world differ and interact.

Our diverse faculty hold degrees from some of the most prestigious universities in the country.  They are specialists in local, national, and international politics. Faculty have published research and teach classes on American politics, environmental politics, the philosophy of law, public policy, comparative politics, and international relations. To see a list of recent faculty publications, please click here.

Political Science and Public Administration students win major graduation awards. Congratulations!

Jose SantiestebanSabrina Magallanes

Jose A. Santiesteban is the 2024 Outstanding Undergraduate in Political Science and was selected as the College of Social Science Dean’s Medalist. Jose helped provide professional development experiences, civic engagement initiatives, community service and research support for students as a leader in the national political honor society Pi Sigma Alpha. His work helped the group win the national Best Chapter Award three years in a row. He conducted research on the regional nuances around gender-based violence in Mexico and presented at the University of Michigan’s Emerging Scholars Conference and at the High Impact Practices Student Symposium where he won an award. Santiesteban serves as a writing tutor for the Department of Political Science. He was a supplemental support instructor in the Learning Center for the introductory course to American politics and he facilitated peer-led study sessions. His success led to a role as an interdisciplinary mentor for other instructors. Santiesteban participated in three political science pre-doctoral programs at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri; the University of California at Southern California; and the University of Michigan. He will begin his Ph.D in Political Science program at Washington University, St. Louis in the Fall. 

Sabrina Magallanes is our 2024 Outstanding Graduate student. She will graduate with her Masters in Public Administration this May. While in the MPA program, Sabrina helped launch a Fresno State chapter of the International City/County Manager’s Association (ICMA) and served as the first chapter president. While in graduate school, she worked on political campaigns and for elected officials. She has recently help form a local Latina PAC and is serving as the regional data captain for the Central Valley. 

Congratulations to Dr. Lisa Bryant for being awarded the highly prestigous Andrew Carnegie Fellowship!

Read about Dr. Bryant's innovative research on partisanship in American elections.

Lisa Bryant

Elizabeth Rocha ZuningaSimran Kaur

Political science major Elizabeth Rocha Zuniga speaking at a Constitution Day panel with political science faculty, and Simran Kaur presenting on her research at the Pi Sigma Alpha conference in Washington, DC.

Students in SacramentoModel UN 2024

Students with Dr. Cummins and alum Alex Walker at the state legislature, and Dr. Ram with her Model UN students

Amneek ChalotraMia Zamora

Students Amneek Chalotra and Mia Zamora presenting their research.

We offer a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in public administration. Our students have gone on to work in city, county, and state government, and a variety of other careers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Many now work in Washington, D.C. or around the world. Several have even been elected or appointed to public office.  Others have gone on to law school and doctoral programs in political science, including the following:

  • Harvard University
  • Washington University, St. Louis
  • Duke University School of Law
  • UC Berkeley College of Law
  • UC Hastings College of Law
  • UC Davis College of Law
  • UCLA College of Law
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Cambridge University, UK
  • UC Merced
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Virginia School of Law
  • University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • London School of Economics and Politics, UK
  • Columbia University
  • Georgetown University Law School
  • Princeton University
  • Pennsylvania State University Law School
  • UC Riverside
  • University of San Diego Law School
  • University of Southern California Law School
  • UC Santa Barbara Graduate School of Education


 Notable Alumni

We believe that all of our alumni are notable, but here are a few you may have heard of, or who may give you an idea as to some of the career possibilities open to political science majors.

  • Lee Brand, Mayor of the City of Fresno
  • James E. Brumm, Former director of Mitsubishi International
  • Cruz Bustamante, Lt. Governor of California
  • Tony Capozzi, Attorney and former president of the California State Bar Association
  • Luis Chavez, Fresno Unified School District Board of Education
  • Jim Costa, California State Senator and Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • Larry Farnsworth, Legislative Assistant to U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert
  • Simon Haeder, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Pennsylvania State University
  • Diane Johnson, professor and chair of the Department of History and Political Science, Lebanon Valley College
  • Mike Karbassi, Fresno City Council
  • Ernest Kinney, Attorney
  • Devon Mathis, Member of the California State Assembly
  • Peter Mehas, Fresno County Superintendent of Education and CSU Board of Trustees
  • Harry Papadakis, Judge
  • Jim Patterson, Mayor of Fresno and California State Assembly
  • Rosendo Peña, Jr. - Associate Justice, California Court of Appeals
  • Henry Perea, Jr., Fresno City Council and California State Assembly
  • Armando Rodriguez, Fresno County Superior Court Judge
  • Victor Salazar, Fresno County Clerk
  • Phillip Sanchez, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras and Colombia
  • Edward Sarkisian, Judge
  • Mark Scott, Fresno City Manager
  • Arthur Svenson, Professor of Political Science, University of Redlands
  • Mike Villines, Member of Assembly and Assembly Republican Leader
  • Ian Wieland, Attorney


Direct all questions, comments, and complaints about this webpage to Dr. Holyoke.