Requirements for the Undergraduate Major
The general procedure for declaring a Political Science major is as follows:
- inform your College advisor of your intentions
- visit the office of the Associate Director of the Undergraduate Program in Stiteler to formally declare the major and update the major worksheet
- confirm in two to three weeks that the major is listed on your official academic transcript (this is for your own protection, as worksheets and academic transcripts are maintained on different systems)
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 of the Following Courses:
(These courses should ideally be taken in the freshman or sophomore year)
- PSCI 110 Introduction to Comparative Politics
- PSCI 130 Introduction to American Politics
- PSCI 150 Introduction to International Relations
- PSCI 180* Ancient Political Thought
- PSCI 181* Modern Political Thought
*PSCI 180 & 181 cannot both be used 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, Political Theory). For your convenience, the Appendix lists most of our standard courses according to subfield (note that a few courses cut across subfields).
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 meets one of two sets of criteria: (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); or (ii) the course provides a broad social scientific perspective that may be used to broaden one’s understanding of politics (e.g., ANTH 2, ECON 1 or 2, SOCI 1, 8 & 135, PSYC 1 & 170). 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, provided the following conditions are met:
- At least six Political Science courses must be courses actually rostered by the Political Science Department or explicitly cross-listed as a PSCI course. These courses will be listed as “PSCI-XXX” by the registrar (www.upenn.edu/registrar)
- At least 8 of all total courses (political science and “major related”) counted towards the major must be taken at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the Undergraduate Chair for transfer students or students who enroll in year-long study-abroad programs.
- All 12 courses must be graded and must receive a passing grade (C- or above).
- The minimum acceptable GPA for the 12 courses is 2.0.
- No AP Credit is given for the required courses.
- Not counting the PSCI-499 Honors Independent Study, no more than two independent study course may be applied towards the major.
- 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.
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 ConcentrationsThere 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:
- Five courses must address topics that fall within the chosen concentration.
- 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.
- 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 ConcentrationsUnder certain circumstances, a student 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, two of which must be in Political Science, as well as a thesis supervised by a faculty member with expertise in the relevant field.