Political Science  {SF State Bulletin 2011 - 2012}

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Political Science

College of Arts and Humanities

Dean: Paul Sherwin


Department of Political Science

HSS 263
Phone: 415-338-1178

Chair: James Martel
Graduate Coordinator: Sujian Guo



Professors: Graham, Guo, Martel, Smith, Shastri, Tsygankov
Associate Professors: Belkin, Carcieri, Neely, von Wahl, Watts
Assistant Professors: Boushey, Gordy, McDaniel



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: education and teaching, public service, community action, pre-professional (for students anticipating graduate study in political science), political journalism, research and policy analysis, 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.


Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

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


Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.


Core Requirements

Course Title 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 units


Breadth Requirement (12 units)
Political science courses chosen to include at least one upper division course in at least three of these five sub-fields: American politics, comparative politics, political theory, public administration and policy, and public law.

Electives (16 - 19 units)
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 - 44 units



  • Students in the Political Science program must have a grade of C- or better in their core courses and the courses they choose to fulfill their breadth requirement to obtain the major. (Effective beginning Fall 2005)
  • Political science majors and minors may take up to four units CR/NC, as long as those units are part of their elective requirement. All of the courses that fulfill the core and breadth requirements must be taken for a grade.
  • The Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement is satisfied by earning a C in any upper division course with the suffix GW.


Minor in Political Science

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.


Course Title 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 units

Total: 21 units


Master of Arts in Political Science

Admission to Program

Most political science graduate students have an undergraduate degree in political science. While this is recommended, the department accepts applications from students with other majors.


The minimum cumulative GPA is 3.25. Applicants with lower GPAs may be considered if they have received scores of 550 or above on both the math and verbal portions of the GRE exam.


All applicants are required to submit two letters of recommendation evaluating their ability, promise, and past performance.


All foreign students whose native language is not English are required to meet all SF State requirements, including a score that meets University requirements on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). See the University requirements for specific scores.


Applications are to be received by March 31st for the fall semester, and November 1st for the spring semester.


Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: a GRE score that demonstrates proficiency in writing (i.e., a score of 4.0 or better). Students who do not meet this requirement must take an appropriate graduate level writing course in their first year at SF State. Level Two: satisfactory completion of Culminating Experience requirements (Comprehensive exam in two fields or MA thesis.)


Advancement to Candidacy

Candidates for the MA degree must have classified status; have successfully completed PLSI 700, 740, 760 and 780; 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

Course Title Units
PLSI 700 Research Methods 3
PLSI 740 Seminar in American Politics 3
PLSI 760 Seminar in Comparative Politics 3
PLSI 780 Seminar in Political Theory 3


Elective Requirements (6 - 9 units)
Students choosing to do a thesis should take at least two courses; those opting for comprehensive examinations should select three courses from the following: 6 - 9 units


Course Title
PLSI 741 Topics in American Politics
PLSI 761 Topics in Comparative Politics
PLSI 781 Topics in Political Theory
Graduate seminar in a related field upon advisement and approval (3-4)


Related Courses (9 units)
Graduate seminars and/or upper division undergraduate courses in political science or related fields upon advisement and approval of the graduate coordinator.


Culminating Requirement (0 - 3 units)

Course Title
PLSI 898 Master's Thesis (3)

Minimum total: 30 units


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

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