Political Science

Q: What courses should I take during the first year?
The Political Science Department faculty recommends that students take at least two of our three introductory courses (Introduction to American Government, Introduction to International Relations, and Introduction to Comparative Politics) as soon as possible. Taking any one of these in the first semester is a good way to start exploring the major. These introductory courses are also offered again in the Spring Semester, so one of them can be taken then. It’s also usually fine for first year students to take any 100 level Political Science course that interests them except Research Methods. Click here to see Political Science course availability.
Q: What courses should first year students steer clear of?
It’s generally advisable to wait until sophomore year to take the Research Methods course (PSCI 107) and 200 level courses in our department.
Q: If key introductory courses are filled, are there good alternatives?
Since most of our courses have heavy reading loads, we recommend that students not take more than two Political Science courses in the same semester. We encourage students to take some PLS courses and, perhaps, an introductory course for a minor or for an interdisciplinary concentration that they may be considering pursuing along with our major. We require our majors to take a History course that’s relevant to their subfield specialization, so it’s also advisable for students to take an American History course if their subfield focus in our major is American Politics or to take a non-American History course if their subfield focus is Comparative Politics or International Relations.
Q: Where should students or faculty go for more information?
Students should feel free to contact, Valerie Sperling, Chair of the Political Science Department, or any other faculty member in the department, if they have any question about our major or our courses. Another place to look for additional information and advice about our major is the Handbook for Students.
Q: How do I get an advisor in Political Science?
Students who major in Political Science choose one of our department members to serve as their faculty advisor. Typically their advisor specializes in the subfield the student is most interested in. However, any faculty member in our Department can serve as the advisor to any student who wants to major in Political Science.  Students can either ask a faculty member to become their advisor or ask the Chair of the Department to suggest an appropriate advisor for them.