The Political Science Department provides students an opportunity to learn about politics from various perspectives. Classes are offered in the four major subfields of political science: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. Many courses cut across subfields. While some students choose the majority of courses from within one or two subfields, most take a wide variety of courses that span different areas.
Students generally begin the major with our 200-level introductory courses, described in more depth here. We call these “gateway courses” because they provide an ideal entry point to each of the four major subfields of political science: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. We also offer a fifth gateway course, Introduction to Law in the Political Arena, which is a great fit for anyone who is interested in the judicial system or considering a career in law.
Not all of our 300-level courses require 200-levels as a prerequisite. However, 200-levels provide a foundation for 300-level courses and preparation for subsequent advanced coursework.
The political science major requires one class in political science methods. Whereas gateway course prepare students with foundational knowledge in the study of politics, methodology courses train students to think about how we gain that knowledge in the first place. Taking a methods course will help give you the analytical tools you need to do your own political science research. It will also help you assess the strengths and weaknesses of all of the research that you study in other political science classes.
Political Research Seminars (Poli Sci 395)
The Poli Sci 395 Political Research Seminars are advanced seminars on specific topics that culminate in writing a research paper or similar project. Several 395 courses are offered every quarter and the topics vary by quarter. A Poli Sci 395 seminar is required for the major. Minors in political science are welcome to take 395 seminars as well.
Students should plan to take Poli Sci 395 in junior year or early in senior year. It is recommend that students who plan to pursue honors take Poli Sci 395 in junior year. Additionally, it is recommended that students take a political science methods course before taking a 395. Several 395 courses are offered every quarter.
Planning your course of study
Students planning to major in political science are advised to complete their 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 Poli Sci 395 research seminar. Students should plan to take Poli Sci 395 in junior year or early in senior year. Those who plan to pursue honors should take Poli Sci 395 in junior year.
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.