Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

Frequently Asked Questions


1. How many Political Science courses do I need to take to complete the major?

Effective Fall 2013, you'll need 14 courses (42 units) plus 2 courses in related fields (6 units), for a total of 16 courses (48 units). Political Science 100 (American Government and Politics) is required of all majors—but it's also required of all students, regardless of their major—and it does not count toward the total of number of classes needed for the major. Students with catalog years prior to Fall 2013 must complete 13 courses (39 units) in Political Science and 3 courses (9 units) in related fields.

2. What are those Political Science courses? Which ones are required?

The major in Political Science was changed in Fall 2013. Click below for the appropriate map of the requirements for the major:

3. What are the upper division related fields courses?

These courses are designed to help you to broaden your understanding of political science or courses that involve methods that are similar to those used in political science. Generally these are courses in the social sciences. You have to take three of them—9 units' worth—and all of them have to be upper-division courses. Click on this linkPDF File Opens in new window to download a list of approved related fields courses. If you take any of these, you won't need an adviser's approval. If you have any other courses in mind, you'll need to talk to an adviser.

4. How many units do I need to graduate?

You'll need 120 total units. Completing the units for your major plus General Education units won't be enough until your total units is 120. That total of 120 units is a university rule.

5. Which courses should I begin with?

Start with Political Science 100 and then maybe Political Science 200; after that it makes sense to take the 300 level breadth courses to get an idea of the various subfields available.

6. Should I get all my GE out of the way before I start taking courses in the major?

It's a good idea to start immediately with Political Science 100 and then ease into the 300-level courses. But General Education is not something to "get out of the way" and the major does not need to wait until your junior year. By taking major courses earlier you may find out sooner if you really want that major.

7. After I take the required 300 level courses and the required methodology course, which course should I take?

We pretty much leave that up to you, depending on your interests, except that you must eventually take two 400- level writing courses and a total of three 400-level courses. You can choose to concentrate in a given area or take courses across the board.

8. Which courses are writing courses?

All 400 level POSC courses count towards the Upper Division Writing Requirement EXCEPT the following courses: 402, 407, 412, 493, 497, 498, and 499.

9. Are there prerequisites for 400 level courses?

Generally no, but it is helpful to take the 300 level course in that area before taking a specialized 400 level course to provide a good foundation. However, if you see a 400 level course that you just have to take, consider taking it now since it may not be offered again while you are here.

10. Is it possible to substitute a course in a different department for the research methods course?

We do not encourage that, but if you are unable to enroll in one of our methods courses we do permit substituting a methods course from another social science department with prior approval by an adviser. In the past Political Science majors have used such courses as Sociology 302 (Social Research Methods) or Sociology 303 (Statistics for the Social Sciences) to meet this requirement.

11. If I substitute a different course for the methodology course, do I still need to take 14 Political Science courses?

Yes, you do .

12. Do I need to have a formal concentration within the Political Science major?

No, though many students do that informally by taking courses they're most interested in.

13. Must I have a minor?

No, although some students want to take all of their three related fields courses in the same department, and some build on that by taking a few more courses in that department and creating a minor.

14. Can I minor in Public Administration or International Politics or Law, Politics and Society?

Yes, but if you are after course content you can get that without a formal minor. But if you want something on your diploma, you must minor.

15. Can I double major in Public Administration and Political Science?

Yes, if you'd like that on your diploma. But you can also get the content without a double major. By double majoring in these two disciplines you essentially have a 72 unit Political Science major.

16. What are the rules for minors and double majors?

12 units must be unique to the minor and not used for the major; and 24 units must be unique to the major (no double counting). GE courses may be used for the minor and for one of the majors (but NOT the primary major).

17. Can I double count a course for both the major and General Education?

Well, yes and no. If you're a Political Science major, you cannot take a Political Science course—that is, a course with a POSC designation-- both to meet the requirements for the major and have it apply to a particular category of GE. Basically, if you're a Political Science major you cannot use any Political Science course to meet a GE requirement AND use that course towards the major. But, if you take a non-Political Science course to satisfy the related fields requirement—and remember, these course must be outside of Political Science--then the course can qualify for GE credit. But in this case, don't assume that taking a three-unit course that qualifies for both the Political Science related fields requirement and GE credit somehow turns those three units into six. It doesn't. If you double-major, one of your two majors is designated, by you, as your primary major. You can't use courses from your primary major to complete GE requirements, but you can use courses from your secondary major for GE credit.

18. After I finish the General Education and Major Requirements what do I take then?

Whatever you like. These courses are called free electives and allow you to explore other academic areas of interest to you.

19. Do I need to get a "C" or better in all the major courses?

No. You must have a C average in the major to graduate.

20. Can I take graduate courses?

Yes, if you are a senior (90 units completed), have the academic preparation for the course, and have the permission of the instructor and are permitted by the Division.

21. Can major courses count for General Education?

No, unless you are double majoring. Political Science 100 is not part of the major. I took comparative politics and International Relations at my community college. Do they count for the major? Yes: you can have 9 units of lower division work count towards the major (not including Political Science 100, which is not part of the major). We may accept lower division course in Comparative Politics and International Relations as being equivalent to our 300 level courses; you should consult an adviser on this.

22. I took an International Relations course at my community college and Political Science 350 here. Do they both count towards the major?

No. We treat them as equivalent courses. You should have talked to me earlier.

23. Do I need to take an internship? How many internship courses can I take?

An internship is not required for the Political Science major, but most students find them to be a valuable experience and often in help in finding a job later. You are limited to a total of 6 units in internships. They can be the same internship or different internships.