Political Science

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Dean: Joel Kassiola

Department of Political Science
HSS 263
Chair: Michael Graham

Graduate Coordinator: David Tabb


Professors—Browning, DeLeon, Graham, Heather, Smith, Shastri, Stolz, Tabb

Assistant Professors—Tsygankov, Von Wahl


B.A. in Political Science
Minor in Political Science
M.A. in Political Science

Program Scope

Undergraduate study in political science is designed to develop knowledge, analytical skills, and critical insight into the nature of politics and political problems. The aim is to prepare students for active engagement in political life, whether as informed citizens or in a range of possible careers. The department endeavors to acquaint students with the issues of political life that have absorbed political thinkers and actors throughout the ages, as well as to equip students with the most contemporary skills for research analysis and policy making.

Pre-law Program

No specific major is required for admission to a school of law. The student should consult the catalog of the school of law to which s/he expects to apply for admission. Since law schools generally expect their students to have a broad foundation in the social sciences and the humanities, selection of a major in these areas is recommended.

For pre-law students who choose a major in political science, special concentration courses appropriate for preparation for legal training are provided on advisement within the framework of the major program in political science. The Department of Political Science and the student-operated Pre-law Advising Center also provide advising and other services (e.g., mock LSAT) for pre-law students in any major who wish to improve their preparation for law school.

Other Programs

Upon advisement, majors and minors in political science may select options enabling them to concentrate in a variety of career-related fields: civic education; public service, community action; pre-professional (for students anticipating graduate study in political science); political journalism; and comparative studies (with opportunity to focus on Latin America, Asia, Europe, or Africa).

The Master of Arts in Political Science is designed for students who wish to proceed to further post-graduate study at the doctoral level as well as those who seek to terminate their study with the M.A. Areas of specialization may include American politics, political theory, comparative politics, public law, research methods, campaign management, as well as joint programs with International Relations and Public Administration. Community college credential programs and student teaching opportunities are also available in the last semester of work. Evening seminars are readily available. Limited financial aid is available in the form of teaching assistantships and research assistantships. These are usually not available during the first semester of work. The program is professional in its standards, substantitive offerings, and levels of expectation.


On-line course descriptions are available.

At least 30 of the 41 units for the major must be in upper division courses.

Core Units
PLSI 200 American Politics 3
PLSI 250 Comparative Politics 3
PLSI 275 Introduction to Political Theory 3
PLSI 300 Methods of Political Inquiry 4
Total for core 13
Breadth Requirement
Political science courses chosen to include at least one upper division course in at least 3 of these 5 fields: American politics, comparative politics, political theory, public administration and policy, and public law.
At least 8 units in political science. Up to 8 units may be selected from related departments with consent of a major adviser.
Minimum total 41


Program Units
PLSI 200 American Politics 3
PLSI 250 Comparative Politics 3
Upper division electives in political science selected in consultation with a political science adviser to serve the student's interests and life goals. 15
Total 21


Admission to Program

Students are expected to have completed an undergraduate major in political science with a 3.25 grade point average, normally with a minimum of twenty-one semester units in political science courses and at least nine semester units in a related field. The department also requires applicants to have an overall 3.25 grade point average as undergraduates.

The department occasionally admits students with undergraduate majors other than political science but does so as conditional graduate students. Such conditional graduate students will be expected to achieve a minimum of a B grade in the courses taken during their conditional status.

All applicants are expected to have taken a course in statistics or its equivalency. PLSI 493, Data Analysis, in the undergraduate curriculum fulfills such a prerequisite. All applicants are required to submit two letters of recommendation evaluating the student's ability, promise, and past performance. Interviews may also be required.

All foreign students whose native tongue is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and must score at least 550.

The Political Science Department aims to complete action on May 15 for Fall semester applications. Late applicants may be deferred or admitted to conditional status.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: passing any of the core courses with a grade of C or better. Level Two: upon assessment by the graduate coordinator of the student's written work in the program at the time of advancement to candidacy.

Advancement to Candidacy

Applicants must have classified status; have successfully completed PLSI 710, 720, and 730; maintained an overall grade point average of 3.0; and have the approval of the graduate coordinator.

On-line course descriptions are available.

Core Requirements Units
PLSI 710 Seminar in American Political System 4
PLSI 720 Seminar in Comparative Government 4
PLSI 730 Seminar in Political Theory 4
Elective Seminar
At least one course selected from the following:
  PLSI 711 Topics in American Government (4)  
  PLSI 721 Topics in Comparative Government (4)
  PLSI 731 Topics in Political Theory (4)
  Graduate seminar in related field upon advisement and approval (3-4)
Related Courses
Graduate seminars and/or upper division undergraduate courses in political science or related fields upon advisement and approval of graduate coordinator. (No more than 4 units of PLSI 899 may be taken.)
PLSI 898 Master's Thesis (4) or 0-4
  Written Comprehensive Examinations (0)
Minimum total 30

Examinations. Students may opt for written comprehensive examinations in two areas of specialization instead of a thesis. If this option is taken, an additional four units of related courses must be taken to meet the minimum 30-unit requirement.

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