As early as 1888 Massachusetts Agricultural College offered course in what is today consider political science. The first class offered was Political Economy, soon followed by a course on Constitutional History. By the 1890s a “Political Science Department” with a curriculum aimed at “mak[ing] a good citizen and successful man of business.” By 1915 the department took on a new shape and was renamed the History and Government Department. Over the next four decades courses and faculty in political science bounced back and forth between two different departments–history and economics–before finally forming its own department once again in 1953. While the Government Department, as it was now know, was formed in 1953, it was not officially recognized by the university until 1956, just in time to benefit from one of the largest building booms in the university’s history.
The 1960s and early 1970s were a period of rapid growth both at the university and within the Government Department. Between the years of 1965 and 1975, the department grew from seventeen faculty members to thirty-eight with a corresponding growth in the number of undergraduate majors and graduate students. It was during this time that the Government Department made its final transformation into the Political Science Department during the 1972/1973 academic year.