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Academic Program

The academic program of the political science department encompasses all four major subfields of the discipline: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. 

American Politics – The study of politics in the United States, including topics such as American political development, American elections, American political institutions, racial and ethnic politics, environmental politics, democratic theory and practice, urban underclass, faith-based public policy and constitutional law, judicial politics, lesbians and gays in American politics, and presidential elections.  

Comparative Politics – The study of domestic politics of countries around the world.  Some courses focus on particular regions, like Latin America, China, Europe and the Middle East.  Others focus on themes, such as democracy and authoritarianism, nationalism and ethnic conflict, the politics of natural disasters, migration, social movements, or surveillance and repression. 

International Relations – The study of politics between states, including American foreign policy, causes of international and civil war as well as methods of peacekeeping, international political economy, globalization, and transnational movements and international (multilateral) organizations. 

Political Theory – The intellectual history of thinking about politics, beginning in the Western world with The Greeks and the Bible, and culminating in Marx, Nietzsche, Foucault, Arendt and contemporary modern and postmodernist theorists. 

All political science majors, regardless of major type, must meet the department’s breadth requirement by taking at least one course or seminar in each of these four subfields.  For more information on specific requirements and expectations for your particular type of major or minor within the department, click on the links on the left-hand sidebar.

Learning Goals for Political Science

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental political processes, institutions, actors, and relationships, and the theoretical concepts and ideas that move them;
  2. Demonstrate a familiarity with major theorists and theories, methods and concepts in Political Science and several of its major subfields;
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in thinking systematically and historically about political actors and interactions in national, regional, global and international contexts;
  4. Demonstrate proficiency in thinking critically and creatively about the ethical dimensions of politics;
  5. Write effectively in making strong, evidence-backed arguments, engage in intellectually grounded oral debate and discussion, and form and express cogently formulated arguments and interpretations;
  6. Synthesize, analyze, and critically evaluate major arguments in the discipline as a whole and in major subfields of the discipline;
  7. Assess original and secondary sources of argument and evidence and apply scholarship to new areas of research;
  8. Develop abilities to engage with the broader world, applying disciplinary knowledge to understand and possibly shape political processes, institutions, and discourse.

Policy Change Announcements

  • Given the College's CR/NC policy for Spring 2020 grades, the Department will count POLS courses taken in Spring 2020 towards its major requirements (i.e., it will waive its requirement of no CR/NC for Spring 2020 as a one-time exception). The Department, nonetheless, retains the right to seek the shadow grade for Spring 2020 for consideration of acceptance into the honors program or for other major/minor acceptance purposes (the student will be notified in case the shadow grade is being sought). 
  • As of Class of 2022, to fulfill the senior honors study requirement, honors majors will revise a paper written for each one of the Department seminars. These three papers will be submitted to the appropriate external examiners as part of the honors evaluation process.   
  • The Department announces that as of Spring 2021, only courses taught by POLS faculty (in other programs at the College) will be eligible for POLS designation/credit. This does not apply for courses taken outside the College.  
  • As of Class 2023, the Political Science Department will no longer count any POLS-eligible courses toward any of its majors or minor fulfillments (i.e., a POLS-eligible course will not count as a credit toward any major or minor within the Department).   
  • Beginning with the Class of 2023both course majors and double majors in the department are required to complete 8. 5 credits in Political Science, including the senior comprehensive exercise. 
  • Beginning with the Class of 2023, course majors, double majors,  honors majors, and special majors must complete one credit in each of the four subfields: American, Comparative, International and Theory.