Washington Signature
[ Search and Navigation ]   [ View Full Site ]

Institute for Religion, Politics & Culture

Melissa Deckman

Chair, Professor of Political Science, Louis L. Goldstein Professor of Public Affairs

Research Interests

Religion and politics, women and politics, political behavior, and local politics.

Published Work

Press Releases


Download Curriculum Vitae



  • B.A. in Political Science, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, 1993
  • M.A. in Political Science, American University, 1997
  • Ph.D. in Political Science, American University, 1999

Professor Deckman’s areas of specialty include religion and politics, state and local politics, and women and politics. Dr. Deckman’s current research focuses on the ways that religion, gender, and politics intersect.  On sabbatical in 2012-2013, she spent the year researching a new book, Mama Grizzlies: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Tea Party in America.  In addition, she has been researching how religion shapes attitudes about economic policy and the impact of the “War on Women” on the 2012 presidential election.

She is the author of School Board Battles: the Christian Right in Local Politics (Georgetown University Press 2004), which examines the impact of the Christian Right on school board elections, and which won the 2007 Hubert Morken Award, given by the American Political Science Association biennially to the best work on religion and politics.  Along with Laura Olson and Sue Crawford, she is the co-author of Women with a Mission: Gender, Religion, and the Politics of Women Clergy (University of Alabama Press 2005).  She is also co-author of the textbook Women and Politics: Paths to Power and Political Influence with Julie Dolan and Michele Swers, now in its second edition with Pearson/Prentice Hall.  Her forthcoming edited volume, Curriculum and the Culture War: When and Where is the Bible Appropriate in Public Schools? edited with Joseph Prud’homme, will be published in the early 2013.

Her work also appears in numerous academic articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Politics & Religion, Social Science Quarterly, Public Administration Review, Review of Religious Research, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Journal for the Scientific Study of ReligionJournal of Women, Politics, and Public Policy, and American Politics Research.  She appears frequently as a guest for various political radio and television shows to discuss American politics and she has been cited in numerous newspaper articles, including in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, and Christian Science Monitor.  You can catch Dr. Deckman appearing on PBS’ Religion and Ethics Newsweekly to discuss the role of religion in last fall’s 2012 presidential election.  


At the introductory level, Professor Deckman teaches American Government and Politics.  She also offers advanced courses about women and politics, elections and the political process, religion and politics, state and local politics, and empirical political research methods. She also coordinates the Maryland General Assembly Internship, which allows students to spend two days per week as state legislative interns in Annapolis during the spring semester.


This semester she is teaching Women and Politics and the MD General Assembly Internship seminar.

Professional Experience

She is currently the Louis L. Goldstein Professor of Public Affairs and Chair of the Political Science Department at Washington College.  She is also an Affiliated Scholar with the Public Religion Research Institute, where she writes regularly about religion, gender, and politics at its Faith in the Numbers blog.

Recent Stories

  • WYPR Radio, 09/25/2012
    Political science professor Melissa Deckman discusses Romney and Obama foreign policy.
  • Image preview
    Expertise on politics, religion and gender put Professor Deckman in media spotlight
  • Arab News, 10/28/2012
    Political science professor Melissa Deckman is quoted in an article distributed widely around the globe by the Agence France-Presse wire service.