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Major and Minor

Overview: the Major and Minor in Political Science

Students generally begin the major with 200-level courses, which provide a general introduction to subfields of political science as well as background for 300-level courses. Majors should choose 200-level courses from at least two subfields: American politics, comparative politics, international politics, and political theory.

While some students choose most of their courses from within one or two subfields, most take a wide variety of courses that span different areas.

Concentrations are not required, but majors are encouraged to consult with department advisers to design individualized programs of study. For example, students have designed concentrations around themes such as race, ethnicity, and politics; global transformation; representation and law; social and economic inequalities; terrorism and national security; and citizenship studies.

Students planning to major in political science are advised to complete the 200-level gateway courses and at least one 300-level course in political science by the end of sophomore year. Majors should complete their methodology requirement by the end of junior year and before taking the 395 research seminar. Students should plan to take 395 in junior year or early in senior year. Those who plan to pursue honors must take 395 in junior year.

Undergraduate students with an excellent academic record in political science are encouraged to explore enrolling in 400-level graduate seminars, listed here. These courses offer exposure to advanced debates, as well as a unique chance to get to know a professor in a small-class setting. 400-level courses are especially great learning experiences for students considering pursuing graduate school. Undergraduates interested in a 400-level course should reach out to the instructor, as registration requires the instructor’s permission

Major Requirements, effective Fall 2014

Department courses (12 units)


Questions should be directed to the Director of Undergraduate Studies  regarding major requirements for students who entered Northwestern prior to Fall 2014.

Minor in Political Science 

The minor offers a student the opportunity to complete an abbreviated yet coherent plan of study in Political Science. It is also designed to enable a student to enrich his or her studies in various ways, especially by (1) complementing a major in another field (for example, philosophy, economics, history, sociology, math, art, or language) by adding a Political Science perspective on key subjects, and (2) preparing for certain careers (for example, law, public service, business, or teaching) by taking courses in Political Science that address relevant topics. The minor is structured to permit students to explore a variety of courses across subfields in political science or to concentrate their studies in one of them. Prospective minors are encouraged to consult with an undergraduate advisor to develop a program of study tailored to their needs.

Minor requirements:

Department courses (6 units):


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