The Political Science major is quickly becoming one of the most popular majors for undergraduate international students. With its focus on analytical thinking and problem solving, an undergraduate degree in Political Science can prepare you for myriad career paths upon graduation. Here is some information about the Political Science major at various academic institutions.
Top Schools for an Undergraduate Degree in Political Science
Most colleges and universities offer the Political Science major for undergraduate students, and many offer formidable programs. There are many options for students, depending on the interests of an international student.
Some of the "best" programs, spotlighted by US News and World, include Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, University of Chicago, Columbia University, California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and University of Pennsylvania. However, since the Political Science major is considered to be a Liberal Arts major, the international student should also consider Liberal Arts colleges such as Williams College, Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Swarthmore College, Middlebury College, and Wellesley College.
Undergraduate Degree in Political Science Requirements
While the specific requirements for the completion of a Political Science major differs at every institution, most call for students to take at least one class in each of the four major accepted subfields of Political Science: American Politics, Comparative Politics, Political Theory, and International Relations. However, some schools, such as University of Southern California, swap Political Thought and Law and Public Policy subfields for Political Theory and International Relations. Other schools, like Northwestern University, additionally require the Political Science major to take classes in related Liberal Arts disciplines such as Economics, Global Health, and Psychology to support their PoliSci study. Make sure to check out the Political Science department website for the school of your choice to get familiar with their specific requirements.
Undergraduate Degree in Political Science Course Offerings
Different universities have different course offerings; however, most differentiate between courses for their lower division students (freshman and sophomores) and their upper division students (juniors and seniors). Lower division classes, usually 100 and 200 level classes, are introductory courses: "Introduction to Comparative Politics" at Columbia University, "Theory and Practice of American Democracy" at University of Southern California, and "World Politics" at University of California Los Angeles. These courses are designed to familiarize students with the basic concepts of politics and political thought. The upper division curriculum expands upon these basic political concepts, which is why many schools use the lower division courses as prerequisites for the higher-level classes.
Most upper division courses in the Political Science major take the ideas explored in the introductory-level classes and apply them to a specific group or idea. Courses such as "Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa", "Citizenship & Exclusion" and "Sex, Power, and Politics" focus on more specialized topics of study. An important thing to note though, with higher-level courses, while the subject matter gets more interesting, the work load gets bigger!
Undergraduate Degree in Political Science Honors Program
For the extremely motivated Political Science major, many schools offer Honors programs to complement students' undergraduate degrees. The Honors program requirements differ at every college and university, with some revolving around specialized class offerings for selected Honors students. Most, however, culminate with students completing an Honors Thesis.
Undergraduate Degree in Political Science Minor
Conversely, if you are interested in government and political theory, but the Political Science major doesn't seem like the ideal area of study for you, perhaps you should consider a Political Science minor instead. Most colleges and universities with a Political Science major offer a minor program as well. Minor programs require international students to take few courses in the field, but still gain an in-depth knowledge of how political structure functions.