We typically offer about 35 different courses each fall and spring semester. A smaller number of courses are also offered during the May term and summer session. Course availability depends on instructor availability and curricular funding.

We offer many classes in the subfields of political theory, international relations, American government, and comparative government each semester. Political science majors need at least one course in three out of the four subfields. Completing the major will require additional POL elective courses which can be selected from any of the subfields. Some students choose to focus their electives in one specific subfield, while others take classes in all four subfields to complete a more general major. Whatever your area of interest, you can find several courses that match your interests and work well with your class schedule.

For more information about the course requirements for a political science major, visit the University Catalog. More information on our courses can be found on ClassInfo.

In this video, Professor Kathryn Pearson speaks on the wide variety of courses taught in political science.

Political Science Major and Minor Subfields

Political theory analyzes the meaning and significance of fundamental political concepts. Starting from foundational concerns such as the nature of politics, humans, power and justice, theorists explore how these basic starting assumptions organize the norms, practices, and institutions of political and social order. Students who study political theory become more adept at critical thinking, careful reading and clear writing, and recognizing and constructing arguments. These skills are basic for the critical, lifelong role that all of us play as members of political communities. 

Political theory courses are designated by 32/42xx, such as POL 3235W Democracy and Citizenship or POL 4267 Imperialism and Modern Political Thought.

In comparative politics, we seek to identify factors that explain political outcomes across time and space, with an eye to patterns that transcend historical and geographic particularities. Although comparative politics sometimes refers to the study of politics outside the United States, comparativists would say that American politics can also be included in comparative analysis. Comparative politics courses will make you a more informed and discerning citizen in our interconnected world. Political economy, the study of the interactions between the polity and the economy, is an important aspect of comparative politics. 

Comparative politics courses are designed by 34/44xx, such as POL 3464 The Politics of Economic Inequality or POL 4465 Southeast Asian Politics.

Students of American politics seek to understand the way that collective governance happens in the United States. The American politics subfield is divided into two areas: 1) political behavior is the study of public opinion and electoral behavior of voting age adults, and 2) political institutions is the study of the formal and informal structures of governance in the United States. Students will learn how research projects are designed and, in some courses, how to collect, examine, and present data. 

American politics courses are designated by 33/43xx, 35/45xx, or 37/47xx. Examples include POL 3308 Congressional Politics, POL 4501W The Supreme Court and Constitutional Interpretation, and POL 4773W Advocacy Organization, Social Movements, and the Politics of Identity.

In international relations, we study how the countries of the world do and don't get along. We address fundamental questions of war and peace, conflict and cooperation, trade, migration, and finance. Taking courses in international relations helps students better understand how the world works. Students will be expected to write policy memos, conduct independent research, take part in simulations and debates, and devise policy solutions to complicated challenges. Political economy, the study of the interactions between the polity and the economy, is an important aspect of international relations.

International relations courses are designated by 38/48xx, such as 3835 International Relations or POL 4885W International Conflict and Security.

Other Subfields in the Study of Political Science

Political psychology is the study of social attitudes and cognition, judgment and decision-making, group relations, personality and leadership, mass communication, public opinion, political behavior, and political socialization. The study of political psychology centers on understanding how leaders and ordinary citizens make political judgments and the consequences these have for the broader political system.

Political psychology courses are designated by 37/47xx, such as POL 3766 The Political Psychology of Mass Behavior, and count towards the American government subfield.

The field of political methodology includes the study of quantitative and qualitative methods, formal theory, and survey research. Taking political methodology courses is crucial for those students planning on pursuing graduate education in political science.

Political methodology courses are designated by 30/40xx, such as POL 3085 Quantitative Political Analysis and POL 4085 Advanced Political Data Analysis. Methodology courses are listed under “additional courses” in the University Catalog and the credits count toward the upper-division within the major requirements.