Institute for Religion, Politics & Culture

Melissa Deckman

Chair and Professor of Political Science

Melissa Deckman is the Louis L. Goldstein Professor of Public Affairs and Chair of the Political Science Department at Washington College.  She also chairs the board of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). 

  • 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

Download CV here.

Professor Deckman’s areas of specialty include religion and politics, women and politics, and state and local politics.  Her latest book is Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies, Grassroots Leaders, and the Changing Face of the American Right (May 2016: NYU Press)  The updated third edition of her best-selling textbook, Women and Politics, written with Julie Dolan and Michele Swers, and which analyzes the 2016 presidential election, is now available through Rowman & Littlefield.  

In addition to more than a dozen scholarly articles, 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 the editor, along with WAC’s Joseph Prud’homme, of Curriculum and the Culture War: When and Where is the Bible Appropriate in Public Schools? (Peter Lang Press, 2014). 

She appears frequently as a guest for a variety of public affairs programs on public radio and television to discuss Maryland politics and she has been cited in numerous media settings, including in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, The Atlantic, the Baltimore Sun, Pundifact and the Christian Science Monitor.   Her commentary on women, religion and politics in recent campaigns has appeared in the Washington Post, Presidential Gender Watch Blog, Huffington Post and the Brookings Fix-Gov blog, among other outlets


At the introductory level, Professor Deckman teaches American Government and Politics.  She also offers advanced courses about women and politics, 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.