Political Science Major

Students must also complete the Undergraduate Registration Requirement and the degree requirements of their home school.

The major in political science provides an opportunity for students to learn about politics in a variety of realms and settings. Students are encouraged to begin the major with 200-level courses, which provide a general introduction to subfields of political science, as well as important background for 300-level courses. Majors should choose 200-level courses from at least two subfields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.

While some students choose courses from within one or two subfields, most take a wide variety across different areas. Concentrations are not required; however, majors may consult with department advisers to design programs of study. For instance, students might design concentrations around themes such as race, ethnicity, and politics; global transformation; representation and law; social and economic inequalities; conflict and national security; and citizenship studies.

Students planning to major in political science are advised to complete the 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 395-0 Political Research Seminar. Students should plan to take POLI_SCI 395-0 in junior or senior year. Those who plan to pursue honors should take POLI_SCI 395-0 in junior year.

Course Title
Major Requirements (12 units)
3 gateway courses chosen from:
Introduction to Political Theory
American Government and Politics
Introduction to Law in the Political Arena
Introduction to International Relations
Introduction to Comparative Politics
1 methodology course in political science chosen from:
Introduction to Empirical Methods in Political Science
Introduction to Interpretive Methods in Political Science
Evaluating Evidence
Methods of Political Inference
Logics of Political Inquiry
Statistical Research Methods
1 Political Research Seminar
Political Research Seminar
7 additional 300-level courses in political science 1
Restrictions on eligible credits and substitutions include the following:
  • At most one unit of Chicago Field Studies (chosen from CFS 391-0, CFS 394-0, or CFS 397-0) may substitute for one course.
  • At most two units of POLI_SCI 399-0 may count toward the 300-level requirement for the major.
  • Only one additional POLI_SCI 395-0 credit beyond the one credit required may count towards the 300-level requirement for the major. 
  • Honors thesis seminars POLI_SCI 398-1 and POLI_SCI 398-2 do not count toward the major. 

Notes about substitutions and restrictions:

  • A maximum of two courses per quarter from study abroad may count toward the Political Science major. More courses may be accepted toward the major for longer study abroad programs.
  • Courses taken P/N cannot be counted toward the major (this is a Weinberg College rule; for details see Grade Requirements).
  • Receiving a 5 on an AP exam (either American Government or Comparative Politics) can place students out of the equivalent 200-level course, but test credit awarded cannot be substituted for the 12 courses required to complete the major. Thus, instead of taking POLI_SCI 220-0 or POLI_SCI 250-0, the student must take an additional 300-level course. Students receiving 5’s on the AP exams in both American Government and Comparative Politics can place out of both equivalent 200-level courses and thus need to take two additional 300-level courses. Students wishing to use their AP credit in this fashion must contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies and place the request.
  • For students completing the MMSS major, MATH 385-0 fulfills the POLI SCI methodology requirement, and MMSS 311-2 double-counts as a 300-level political science course (for triple major limitations see MMSS Adjunct Major).

Honors in Political Science

Majors (including students studying abroad) with strong academic records and an interest in pursuing honors should submit an application to the honors program in the spring quarter of their junior year. Interested students should complete at least seven of the courses required for the major, including the methodology and research seminar requirements, before senior year. Accepted students enroll in the two-quarter seminar POLI_SCI 398-1 & POLI_SCI 398-2, which provides guidance in writing a senior thesis. These courses do not count toward the major. Students interested in pursuing honors in more than one major are encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary honors.

Students whose theses and grades meet department criteria are recommended to the college for graduation with honors. For more information see Honors in the Major.


American Politics Courses

These courses examine political behavior, power, and politics in American society and in the institutions of US government at the national, state, and local levels.

Course Title
POLI_SCI 220-0American Government and Politics
POLI_SCI 230-0Introduction to Law in the Political Arena
POLI_SCI 320-0The American Presidency
POLI_SCI 321-0Urban Politics
POLI_SCI 322-0Ideas and Institutions in Urban Politics
POLI_SCI 323-0Public Opinion and Voting Behavior
POLI_SCI 324-0Political Parties and Elections
POLI_SCI 325-0Congress and the Legislative Process
POLI_SCI 326-0Race and Public Policy
POLI_SCI 327-0African American Politics
POLI_SCI 328-0Public Policy
POLI_SCI 329-0U.S. Environmental Politics
POLI_SCI 330-0U.S. Refugee Policy & Localities
POLI_SCI 331-0Politics of the Supreme Court
POLI_SCI 332-0Constitutional Law I
POLI_SCI 333-0Constitutional Law II: Civil and Political Rights
POLI_SCI 334-0Latino Politics
POLI_SCI 335-0Political Psychology
POLI_SCI 336-0Immigration Politics and Policy

Comparative Politics Courses

Some of these courses concentrate on understanding the politics of specific national systems, while others focus on certain types of political phenomena and make cross-national comparisons.

Course Title
POLI_SCI 250-0Introduction to Comparative Politics
POLI_SCI 350-0Social Movements
POLI_SCI 351-0Politics of the Middle East
POLI_SCI 352-0Global Development
POLI_SCI 353-0Politics of Latin America
POLI_SCI 354-0Politics of Southeast Asia
POLI_SCI 355-0Politics of China
POLI_SCI 356-0Constitutional Challenges in Comparative Perspective
POLI_SCI 357-SAPolitical Economy of Israel
POLI_SCI 358-SAContemporary South Africa: A Political Economy/Policy Perspective
POLI_SCI 359-0Politics of Africa
POLI_SCI 361-0Democratic Transitions
POLI_SCI 361-SADemocratic Transitions
POLI_SCI 362-0Politics of Europe
POLI_SCI 363-SAThe Political Economy of the European Union
POLI_SCI 364-SAFrance: Politics, Culture, & Society
POLI_SCI 365-SADecision Making in the European Union
POLI_SCI 366-SAThe Dynamics of Law Making in the European Union
POLI_SCI 368-0Political Economy of Development
POLI_SCI 369-0Politics of Post-Soviet Russia
POLI_SCI 373-0Chinese Foreign Policy
POLI_SCI 374-0Politics of Capitalism
POLI_SCI 379-SAChina in Transition: Ideology, Political Economy, Law, and Relations with the US
POLI_SCI 381-SAPolitical Economy of Contemporary China
POLI_SCI 388-0Institutions and Society
POLI_SCI 389-0Understanding Genocide

International Relations Courses

This field includes the study of major actors and arenas in the world scene, global processes through which cooperation and conflict are managed in the international system, and ways in which change occurs and resources become allocated in the global system.

Course Title
POLI_SCI 240-0Introduction to International Relations
POLI_SCI 340-0International Relations Theory
POLI_SCI 341-0International Political Economy
POLI_SCI 342-0International Organizations
POLI_SCI 343-0Politics of International Law
POLI_SCI 344-0U.S. Foreign Policy
POLI_SCI 345-0National Security
POLI_SCI 346-0European Union in International Affairs
POLI_SCI 347-0Ethics in International Relations
POLI_SCI 348-0Globalization
POLI_SCI 349-0International Environmental Politics
POLI_SCI 372-0The Middle East in International Politics
POLI_SCI 376-0Civil Wars
POLI_SCI 377-0Drugs and Politics
POLI_SCI 378-0America and the World
POLI_SCI 380-0Refugee Crises and Human Rights
POLI_SCI 382-0Politics of Religious Diversity
POLI_SCI 383-0War and Change in International Politics
POLI_SCI 384-0International Responses to Mass Atrocities

Political Theory Courses

These courses examine the ideas that inform the thinking of today’s citizens, representatives, and political scientists. They are organized by historical periods and conceptual similarity.

Course Title
POLI_SCI 201-0Introduction to Political Theory
POLI_SCI 301-0Classical Political Theory
POLI_SCI 302-0Subjects, Citizens, Revolutionaries: Early Modern Political Thought
POLI_SCI 303-0Modernity and Its Discontents
POLI_SCI 304-0Human Rights Between East and West
POLI_SCI 306-0American Political Thought
POLI_SCI 307-0Deportation Law and Politics
POLI_SCI 308-0Critical Theory and the Study of Politics
POLI_SCI 308-SACritical Theory and the Study of Politics
POLI_SCI 309-0Political Theories of the Rule of Law

Research Methodology Courses

Courses in this field help students engage in the research they may encounter in their 300 level courses and help prepare students to conduct original research on the causes and consequences of political phenomena. The methodological techniques are often transferable to research problems in government and business.

Course Title
POLI_SCI 210-0Introduction to Empirical Methods in Political Science
POLI_SCI 211-0Introduction to Interpretive Methods in Political Science
POLI_SCI 212-0Evaluating Evidence
POLI_SCI 310-0Methods of Political Inference
POLI_SCI 311-0Logics of Political Inquiry
POLI_SCI 312-0Statistical Research Methods

Seminars and Independent Study

Course Title
POLI_SCI 390-0Special Topics in Political Science
POLI_SCI 394-LKProfessional Linkage Seminar
POLI_SCI 395-0Political Research Seminar
POLI_SCI 398-1
POLI_SCI 398-2
Senior Thesis Seminar
and Senior Thesis Seminar
POLI_SCI 399-0Independent Study