Requirements for the Undergraduate Major

The general procedure for declaring a Political Science major is as follows:

The general procedure for declaring a Political Science major is as follows:

  • Inform your College advisor of your intentions
  • Meet with the Associate Director of the Undergraduate Program to formally declare the major and update the major worksheet. You can schedule an appointment with the Associate Director here.
General Major Requirements

The standard Political Science major consists of twelve courses that must meet the five requirements noted below (and which correspond to the structure of the major worksheet).

Core Requirement - Two Courses

Political Science majors must take two core courses drawn from the following four categories:

  • 0100 (previously 110) or 0101 (previously 116)
  • 0200 (previously 130)
  • 0400 (previously 150)
  • 0600 (previously 180) or 0601 (previously 181)

Students may not use two courses from the same category to satisfy this requirement.

Subfield Requirement - Three Courses

Three of the ten remaining courses must cover three of the four subfields in Political Science (American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory). For your convenience, the Appendix lists most of our standard courses according to subfield (note that a few courses are cut across subfields).

Many subfield courses can be found in Path@Penn by searching for PSCI department courses that contain one of the following course attributes: APSA (American Politics), APSC (Comparative Politics), APSI (International Relations), APST (Political Theory).

PSCI courses without these attribute codes may still satisfy the subfield requirement if it is indicated in their course descriptions or at the discretion of the Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Courses must be offered by the PSCI department or explicitly cross-listed with PSCI in the semester in which they are taken to count toward the subfield requirement.

Electives - Seven PSCI and “Major Related” Courses

At least four of the seven elective courses must be in Political Science. Only courses directly offered by PSCI, courses explicitly cross-listed with PSCI in the semester in which they are taken, or interdisciplinary courses taught by faculty affiliated with the Political Science department are considered PSCI courses for the purposes of fulfilling major requirements. It is strongly recommended that students take one or two 300- or 400-level seminars as part of their major. The remaining courses must be “major-related.” A course is considered “major-related” when it falls into one of the following categories:

Category (i): the course substantively complements a PSCI course counted towards the major (e.g., a Chinese history where a student has taken Chinese Politics) or addresses central issues often considered in political science departments, (e.g., a GAFL course on political leadership or an Annenberg course on political communication).

Courses from category (i) are listed on Path@Penn using the course attributes APSA (American Politics), APSC (Comparative Politics), APSI (International Relations), APST (Political Theory), and APSE (Political Economy). Courses without these attribute codes may still satisfy the “major-related” requirement at the discretion of the Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Category (ii): the course provides a broad social science perspective that may be used to broaden one’s understanding of politics -e.g., ANTH 0020 (previously ANTH 2), ECON 0100 or ECON 0200 (previously ECON 1 OR 2), SOC 1000 & SOC 1120 (previously SOCI 1 & 135), PSYC 0001 & PSYC 1440 (previously PSYC 1 & 170).

Courses from category (ii) are listed on Path@Penn using the attribute APSR Political Science Related Course.

Note that no more than ONE “major related” course may be from the second category and that all three may be from the first category.

The Associate Director of the Undergraduate Program typically makes all final decisions regarding what courses can count as “major-related.”

Limits on Coursework Taken Elsewhere

Students may count a limited number of study-abroad courses, transfer courses, and summer courses at other universities towards their major requirements, with the following stipulations:

  1. At least six Political Science courses must be rostered or explicitly cross-listed by the Political Science Department at Penn.
  2. Transfer credit and study abroad credit may be used to satisfy any relevant requirement of the major at the discretion of the Undergraduate Chair. Credit-away courses may only be used to satisfy the PSCI or major-related elective requirement.

Other Specifications

  1. All 12 courses must be graded and must receive a passing grade (C- or above).
  2. The minimum acceptable GPA for the 12 courses is 2.0.
  3. No AP Credit is given for the required courses.
  4. Not counting the PSCI-4999 Honors Independent Study, no more than two independent study courses may be applied to the major.
  5. For calculating “major GPA” (e.g., in applications for the honors program or admission to the Pi Sigma Alpha honors society), only PSCI courses are counted; grades in major-related courses are not counted.
  6. The Honors Thesis course sequence (PSCI 4997 and PSCI 4999) does not count toward the 12 credits of the PSCI major; these credits are taken above and beyond the 12 credits of the PSCI major to fulfill requirements for the PSCI Honors Program.
Concentrations in Subfields or Special Topics

Students have the option of declaring a concentration in the major. This requires students to simultaneously satisfy general major requirements as well as the following requirements.

Standard Concentrations

  • There are five standard concentrations. Four of these correspond to the four standard subfields -- American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations & Political Theory. The fifth is the synthetic field of "Political Economy (see "Courses by Subfield")." A concentration can be declared at any time prior to the end of classes in a student’s final semester.

    To declare a concentration, students need to inform the undergraduate office and set up a new worksheet that, in addition to tracking progress on the general requirements, allows the student to separately track progress towards satisfying the requirements noted below:

    1. Five courses must address topics that fall within the chosen concentration.

    2. At least three of the five courses must be Political Science courses that fall within the chosen concentration, as noted in the course listings in the appendix.

    3. The other courses are usually “major related” courses that complement the subject matter addressed in the Political Science courses used to satisfy the concentration. The Undergraduate Chair and Political Science faculty are available to suggest new or occasionally taught courses that can also be used towards a concentration.

Possibilities for Individualized Concentrations

  • Although it is extremely unusual, students with compelling reasons may petition to declare an individual special concentration focused on a specialized topic or a particular region of the world. Such concentrations require a coherent set of six courses, three of which must be in Political Science, as well as a thesis supervised by a faculty member with expertise in the relevant field.