Political Science

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Dean: Joel Kassiola

Department of Political Science
HSS 263
Chair: Amita Shastri

Undergraduate Advisor: Sujian Guo

Graduate Coordinator: Nicole Watts


Professors—Graham, Heather, Smith, Shastri, Tabb

Associate Professors—Guo, Tsygankov

Assistant Professors—Gen, Martel, Neely, von Wahl, Watts, Willoughby-Herard


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 through 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. Since law schools generally expect their students to have a broad foundation in the social sciences and the humanities, selection of a major in such areas is recommended. For more information, the student should consult the catalog of the school of law to which s/he expects to apply for admission.

For pre-law students who choose a major in political science, special concentration courses appropriate as 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, and various area studies concentration and minors (with opportunity to focus on Asia, Europe, or the Mideast).

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. degree. Areas of specialization may include American politics, political theory, comparative politics, public law, research methods, 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. The program is professional in its standards, substantive offerings, and levels of expectation.


At least 29 of the 41 units for the major must be in upper division courses.

Core Requirements 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 sub-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 advisor.
Minimum total 41

On-line course descriptions are available.


Courses 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

On-line course descriptions are available.


Admission to Program

Most Political Science graduate students have a BA in Political Science. While this is recommended, the department accepts applications from any majors.

In general, the minimum cumulative GPA is 3.25. Applicants with lower GPAs may be considered if they have taken the GRE and received high scores.

All applicants are expected to have taken a course in statistics or its equivalent. PLSI 493, Data Analysis, or PLSI 300, Scientific Inquiry, in the undergraduate curriculum fulfill such a prerequisite. All applicants are required to submit two letters of recommendation evaluating the student's ability, promise, and past performance.

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

Applications are to be received by March 1 for the fall semester, and October 1 for the spring semester.

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..

Core Requirements Units
PLSI 710 Seminar in American Politics 4
PLSI 720 Seminar in Comparative Politics 4
PLSI 730 Seminar in Political Theory 4
Elective Requirements
Students choosing to do a thesis should take at least one course; those opting for comprehensive examinations should select two courses from the following:
PLSI 711 Topics in American Politics (4)  
PLSI 721 Topics in Comparative Politics (4)
PLSI 731 Topics in Political Theory (4)
Graduate seminar in a 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 the graduate coordinator.
Culminating Requirement
PLSI 898 Master's Thesis (4)  
or Written Comprehensive Examinations in two areas of specialization (0)
Minimum total 30

Students who want to enroll in a course of independent study/special study (PLSI 899) must have a GPA of at least 3.25.

On-line course descriptions are available.

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