Political science is the study of politics and political action in society. It encompasses international agreements and organizations as well as the patterns of political action which both create and shape them. It encompasses citizen action and the institutions which produce public policy at the local, state, and national levels within the United States. It encompasses systems of voting, political parties, courts, compared across national political systems. It encompasses the raising of normative questions about the nature and purposes of political life. The presence of politics is felt in all areas and sectors of society at all times. The dynamic and transformative effects of political action are seen virtually everywhere.

The department’s curriculum is distributed across five subfields of the discipline: American politics, political theory, comparative politics, international relations, and public policy. Political Science major course work across the subfields of the discipline is complemented by the requirement that each Political Science major completes a designated support option, which includes: a minor in another department, an interdisciplinary minor, the second language support option, the methods support option, or a second major.

Learning Outcomes

Students majoring in Political Science shall demonstrate the following:

  • Ability to reason through political claims and assertions by political actors
  • Skill in recognizing and responding to diverse ideological perspectives
  • Ability to locate political issues and controversies within their relevant institutional and historical contexts
  • Familiarity with the institutional processes of politics in numerous global and domestic political arenas
  • Confidence in expressing opinions and presenting analyses of political problems and their solutions.

Potential Occupations

The Political Science major, like all studies in the liberal arts, provides students with a broad academic background that is serviceable across a broad spectrum of employment in the public and private sectors. Political Science majors are trained to be independent and critical thinkers; to be discerning and active observers and listeners; to communicate persuasively; to constructively engage and solve intellectual and practical problems; to adapt and function effectively in a number of distinct occupational and institutional settings; to function comfortably in a multiethnic, multiracial, and globalizing society. The employment profiles of departmental alumni attest to the breadth of possibilities for today’s graduates: public and non-profit organization managers, prosecutors, public policy analysts and consultants, federal law enforcement agents, legislators and legislative analysts, foreign service officers, private attorneys, demographers, criminal investigators, advertising specialists, urban/regional planners, environmental policy analysts, state budget analysts, public relations representatives, market researchers, elementary and high school teachers, international businessmen and businesswomen, lobbyists, novelists, construction industry managers, insurance agents and managers, financiers, and real estate brokers. Some graduates join professions following advanced study in law, international relations, area studies, public administration, public policy analysis, and business management.

Concentrations

Students may complete the general Political Science major or select one of the following concentrations for a more specialized course of study.

Effective Fall 2016

Political science majors must achieve a minimum grade of C- (1.670) in each of the political science (POLS) courses counted toward meeting the requirement of the major.

Political Science, Upper-Division

At least 24 credits of upper-division political science courses must be completed for the major. The 24 credits include the senior capstone course, POLS 492, at least 3 credits of AUCC 4A and 4B in addition to POLS 492, and at least one upper-division course in each of the following five subfields.1

American Politics and Law

Code Title AUCC Credits
POLS 302 U.S. Political Parties and Elections 4A,4B 3
POLS 303 Politics of Organized Interests 4A,4B 3
POLS 304 Legislative Politics 3
POLS 305 Judicial Politics 3
POLS 306 Executive Politics 3
POLS 309 Urban Politics 3
POLS 405 Race and Ethnicity in U.S. Politics 4A,4B 3
POLS 409 Urban and Regional Politics 3
POLS 410 American Constitutional Law 3
POLS 413 U.S. Civil Rights and Liberties 3

Political Theory

Code Title AUCC Credits
POLS 420 History of Political Thought 4A,4B 3
POLS 421 Contemporary Political Theories 4A,4B 3
POLS 422 Democratic Theory 4A,4B 3
POLS 423 American Political Theories 4A,4B 3

International Relations

POLS 331Politics and Society Along Mexican Border3
POLS 332/ECON 332International Political Economy3
POLS 362Global Environmental Politics3
POLS 431International Law3
POLS 433International Organization3
POLS 435United States Foreign Policy3
POLS 436Comparative Foreign Policy3
POLS 437International Security3

Comparative Politics

Code Title AUCC Credits
POLS 341 Western European Government and Politics 3
POLS 345 Russian, Central, and East European Politics 3
POLS 442 Environmental Politics in Developing World 3
POLS 443 Comparative Social Movements 3
POLS 444 Comparative African Politics 3
POLS 445 Comparative Asian Politics 3
POLS 446 Politics of South America 3
POLS 447 Politics in Mexico, Central America, Caribbean 3
POLS 448 Comparative Racial/Ethnic Politics 4A,4B 3
POLS 449 Middle East Politics 4A,4B 3

Public Policy and Administration

POLS 351Public Administration3
POLS 361U.S. Environmental Politics and Policy3
POLS 364U.S. Energy Policy Analysis3
POLS 451Public Policy Design and Governance3
POLS 459Program Evaluation for Public Administrators3
POLS 460Public Policy Process3
POLS 462Globalization, Sustainability, and Justice3
POLS 463Urban Policy and Management3
POLS 465Public Policy Analysis3

 Other Possible Elective Courses Under the 24-Credit Requirement

POLS 320Empirical Political Analysis3
POLS 486APracticum: Legislative Politics 26
POLS 486BPracticum: Government 21-6
POLS 5**Selected graduate course 3

Support Options

Political Science majors must complete one of the following five Support Options.

Minor or Interdisciplinary Minor Support Option

Select a minor or interdisciplinary minor in consultation with advisor.21-24

Student-Selected Course Group Support Option

A program of courses proposed by student and approved by advisor containing a minimum of 21 credits, of which at least 12 must be upper-division (300- to 400-level).21

 Second Major Support Option

Select a second major in consultation with advisor. This option may require as much as 36 credits. Credit range shown is approximate, and may require more or less, depending on the second major chosen.27-36

Foreign Language Support Option

A minimum of 5 courses totaling at least 15 credits in a single foreign language, including at least 2 courses of language instruction or in the language at the upper-division level.15-22

Methods Support Option 

Methods Support Option21
POLS 320Empirical Political Analysis3
STAT 301Introduction to Statistical Methods3
Select two from the following:6
History and Philosophy of Scientific Thought (GT-AH3)
Philosophy of Behavioral Sciences
Logic and Scientific Method
Select one from the following:3
Sampling Techniques
Multiple Regression Analysis
Design of Experiments
Select two from the following:6
Method in Cultural Anthropology
Introduction to Econometrics
Quantitative Sociological Analysis
Methods of Sociological Inquiry
Freshman
AUCCCredits
CO 150College Composition (GT-CO2)1A3
POLS 101American Government and Politics (GT-SS1)3C3
POLS 103State and Local Government and Politics (GT-SS1)3C3
Arts and Humanities3B6
Biological and Physical Sciences3A4
Historical Perspectives3D3
Mathematics1B3
Electives 5
 Total Credits 30
Sophomore
 
Select one course from the following: 3
Writing Arguments (GT-CO3)2 
Writing in the Disciplines: Arts and Humanities (GT-CO3)2 
Writing in the Disciplines: Sciences (GT-CO3)2 
Writing in the Disciplines: Social Sciences (GT-CO3)2 
Writing in the Disciplines: Education (GT-CO3)2 
Writing in Digital Environments (GT-CO3)2 
Professional and Technical Communication (GT-CO3)2 
POLS 232International Relations (GT-SS1)3E3
POLS 241Comparative Government and Politics (GT-SS1)3E3
Biological Physical Sciences3A3
Political Science, upper-division (See list above)4 3
Support Option (See list above) 3-6
Electives 12
 Total Credits 30-33
Junior
 
Political Science - AUCC 4A and/or 4B (See Upper-Division list above)54A,4B0-3
Political Science, upper-division (See list above)4 6-9
Support Option (See list above) 6-12
Electives 9-12
 Total Credits 27-30
Senior
 
POLS 4926Capstone Seminar4A,4B,4C3
Political Science - AUCC 4A and/or 4B (See Upper-Division list above)54A,4B0-3
Political Science, upper-division (See list above)4 6-9
Support Option (See list above) 6-12
Electives7 6-12
 Total Credits 30
 Program Total Credits: 120
1

Students choosing the Methods Support Option must take POLS 320. Credits earned in POLS 495 may not be used to satisfy this requirement.

2

A maximum of 3 credits of POLS 486A or POLS 486B may count toward the 24-credit upper-division requirement.

3

Students may select a 500-level POLS graduate course with approval of advisor and the instructor to fulfill a maximum of 3 credits of the 24-credit upper-division requirement.

4

Select a minimum of 24 upper-division (300- to 400-level) courses as described above in the Political Science, Upper-Division list.

5

In addition to POLS 492 students must select at least one course from among the courses listed in the five subfields (see Political Science, Upper-Division list above), for a minimum of 3 credits, that meets the AUCC 4A/4B requirement for the major.

6

Students must have completed upper division courses in at least four of the five subfields (see Political Science, Upper-Division list above) in order to enroll in POLS 492.

7

Select enough elective credits to bring the program total to a minimum of 120 credits, of which at least 42 must be upper-division (300- to 400-level).

Distinctive Requirements for Degree Program:
Grade of B and C or better in 2 POLS courses and at least 2.000 CSU GPA. Upper-Division course in at least four subfields of political science required to register for POLS 492.
 

Freshman
Semester 1CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
CO 150College Composition (GT-CO2)  1A3
POLS 101American Government and Politics (GT-SS1) X3C3
Arts and Humanities  3B3
Biological and Physical Sciences  3A4
Elective   2
 Total Credits   15
Semester 2CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
POLS 103State and Local Government and Politics (GT-SS1) X3C3
Arts and Humanities  3B3
Historical Perspectives  3D3
MathematicsX 1B3
Elective   3
CO 150 must be completed by the end of Semester 2.    
 Total Credits   15
Sophomore
Semester 3CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
POLS 232International Relations (GT-SS1) X3E3
Biological and Physical Sciences  3A3
Support Option (See option list on Program Requirements Tab)   3-6
Electives   6
 Total Credits   15-18
Semester 4CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
Select one course from the following:   3
Writing Arguments (GT-CO3)  2 
Writing in the Disciplines: Arts and Humanities (GT-CO3)  2 
Writing in the Disciplines: Sciences (GT-CO3)  2 
Writing in the Disciplines: Social Sciences (GT-CO3)  2 
Writing in the Disciplines: Education (GT-CO3)  2 
Writing in Digital Environments (GT-CO3)  2 
Professional and Technical Communication (GT-CO3)  2 
POLS 241Comparative Government and Politics (GT-SS1) X3E3
POLS*** Upper-Division   3
Electives   6
 Total Credits   15
Junior
Semester 5CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
POLS*** AUCC 4A and/or 4B (See Department list on Program Requirements Tab)  4A,4B0-3
POLS*** Upper-Division   3
Support Option (See option list on Program Requirements Tab)   3-6
Electives   3-6
 Total Credits   15
Semester 6CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
POLS*** Upper-Division   3-6
Support Option (See option list on Program Requirements Tab   3-6
Electives   6
 Total Credits   12-15
Senior
Semester 7CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
POLS*** AUCC 4A and/or 4B (See Department list on Program Requirements Tab)  4A,4B0-3
POLS*** Upper-Division   3-6
Support Option (See option list on Program Requirements Tab)   3-6
Electives   6
 Total Credits   15
Semester 8CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
POLS 492Capstone SeminarX 4A,4B,4C3
POLS*** Upper-DivisionX  3
Support Option (See option list on Program Requirements Tab)X  3-6
ElectivesX  0-6
The benchmark courses for the 8th semester are the remaining courses in the entire program of study.X   
 Total Credits   15
 Program Total Credits:   120