Political Science

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Social Science Building

All courses, faculty listings, and curricular and degree requirements described herein are subject to change or deletion without notice. Updates may be found on the Academic Senate website: http://senate.ucsd.edu/catalog-copy/approved-updates/.

The Major Program

Political science addresses some of the fundamental problems facing human society. Questions concerning world peace, government policies aimed at achieving economic stability and growth, the management of environmental quality, control over political competition, the possibility of using law to affect social and political change, and the gap between the rich and poor in the United States and abroad are all on the research agenda of contemporary political scientists. The general purpose of the major is to address these and other issues systematically, and, simultaneously, to raise the broad theoretical questions that can help students relate today’s political debates to those debates about politics that have kept a theoretical tradition alive for over 2,000 years.

Students may major in political science as a general program of study, or they may concentrate in one of six areas: (1) American politics, (2) comparative politics, (3) international relations, (4) political theory, (5) public law, and (6) public policy. All majors in political science must satisfy the following sixteen courses: Poli Sci 30 (Political Inquiry), three of the following four lower-division courses (Political Science 10 or 10D, 11 or 11D, 12 or 12D and 13 or 13D) and twelve upper-division courses. (Note: Lower-division courses Poli Sci 27, Poli Sci 28, and Poli Sci 40 may not be used to satisfy requirements in the political science major or minor.) Students may not receive credit for both Poli Sci 10 and Poli Sci 10D; for both 11 and 11D; 12 and 12D; 13 and 13D; 30 and 30D. Moreover, as stated below, students concentrating in one of the fields must satisfy that field’s particular lower- and upper-division requirements. All courses taken for a political science major must be taken for a letter grade and a grade of C– or better must be earned.

Requirements for Major in Political Science without an Area of Concentration

  1. Three of the four lower-division courses from 10 or 10D, 11 or 11D, 12 or 12D, 13 or 13D
  2. Political Science 30 or 30D
  3. Any twelve upper-division political science courses

Requirements for Major in Political Science with an Area of Concentration

Major in Political Science/American Politics

  1. Lower division required: Poli Sci 10 or 10D (in addition to two other lower-division courses from 11 or 11D, 12 or 12D, 13 or 13D)
  2. Political Science 30 or 30D
  3. Five upper-division American courses:
    1. at least two of which must be from the 100 sequence: 100A-B-C, 100DA, 100E, 100G, 100H, 100J, 100K, 100M, 100N, 100O, 100Q
    2. the additional courses for the American concentration must be chosen from 102C-D-E-F-G, 102J-K-L, 103A-B-C, 104A-B-C-D, 104F, 104G, 104I, 104L-M-N, 105A-B, 108

Major in Political Science/Comparative Politics

  1. Lower division required: Poli Sci 11 or 11D (in addition to two other lower-division courses from 10 or 10D, 12 or 12D, 13 or 13D)
  2. Political Science 30 or 30D
  3. Five upper-division courses, including
    1. at least one from the following thematic courses: 120J, 120Q, 122, 122D, 123, 124, 124A, 125A, 126, 126AA, 127, 128, 129, 136, 136A, 136C, 137A, 150A
    2. and at least one each from any two of the following four regional areas:
      Africa: 120M, 120N, 120P, 120Q
      Asia: 121, 121B, 130B, 131C, 133A, 133D, 133G, 133J
      Europe: 120A-B-C-D-E, 120G, 120H, 120I-J, 126AB, 130AA, 130AD
      Latin America: 134AA, 134B, 134D; 134I
      The other two can be any comparative politics courses numbered Poli Sci 120–139.

Major in Political Science/International Relations

  1. Lower division required: Poli Sci 12 or 12D (in addition to two other lower-division courses from 10 or 10D, 11 or 11D, 13 or 13D)
  2. Political Science 30 or 30D
  3. Five upper-division IR courses with at least one each from the following two groups (the other three can be any upper-division IR courses):
    1. Foreign Policy/National and International Security: 124, 140B-C-D, 142A, 142D, 142I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q, 143A, 145A, 146A, 150A, 153
    2. Political Economy/Theory of International Relations: 126AA-AB, 140A, 142L, 144, 144AB,  144D-E-F, 145C, 146A, 151

Major in Political Science/Political Theory

  1. Three of four lower-division courses from 10 or 10D, 11 or 11D, 12 or 12D, 13 or 13D
  2. Political Science 30 or 30D
  3. 110A-B-C
  4. And at least two additional courses from 110DA, 110EA, 110EB, 110EC, 110ED, 110G, 110H, 110J, 110K, 110M, 110N, 110T, 111B, 111D, 112A, 112C, 113A-B-C, 114B, 115A, 116A, 119A

Major in Political Science/Public Law

  1. Lower division required: Poli Sci 10 or 10D (in addition to two other lower-division courses from 11 or 11D, 12 or 12D, 13 or 13D)
  2. Political Science 30 or 30D
  3. Five of the following: 100A-B, 100M, 102D, 102L, 104A-B-C-D-E, 104F-G, 104I, 104L-M-N

Major in Political Science/Public Policy

  1. Lower division required: Poli Sci 10 or 10D (in addition to two other lower-division courses from 11 or 11D, 12 or 12D, 13 or 13D)
  2. Political Science 30 or 30D
  3. 160AA
  4. One of 160AB, 162, 163, 168, 170A
  5. Two of 100A-B-C, 100E, 100H, 100J, 100M, 100N, 100Q
  6. One of 102C, 102E, 102L, 103A, 103B, 103C, 142A, 142J, 150A, 165

Two upper-division courses in a field may be substituted for that field’s lower-division course. However, these courses cannot also be used to satisfy the upper-division course requirements for a concentration of that field.

Since course offerings change from year to year, students are strongly advised to consult the department for the latest listing of courses before preregistration.

Agreements signed between UC San Diego and several community colleges allow students to apply some community college courses toward lower-division course requirements for the major. Courses taken elsewhere may be credited toward the major. Please check with an undergraduate student affairs adviser for more information on credit for courses taken elsewhere.

Students who pass the Advanced Placement (AP) Tests in American or Comparative Politics may petition to be exempted from taking Poli Sci 10 or 10D or 11 or 11D (respectively). Effective fall 2004, students must pass with a score of 5 to be exempted from taking Poli Sci 10 or 10D or 11 or 11D.

At least ten courses in political science must be taken in residence at UC San Diego. A total maximum of six courses may be taken elsewhere and applied toward the major. This applies to transfer students, students who pass the AP exam(s), as well as students who study abroad on the Education Abroad Program (EAP) or the Opportunities Abroad Program (OAP). Students planning to transfer course work completed elsewhere are urged to consult an undergraduate student affairs adviser.

Double majors who include political science as one of their two majors must fulfill the requirements of both programs. Please consult an undergraduate student affairs adviser for more information.

Students must maintain an overall 2.0 GPA in the major. To be counted toward satisfying the requirements for the major, upper- and lower-division courses must be completed with a C– or better grade. Courses taken to satisfy requirements for the major may not be taken Pass/Not Pass with the exception of a maximum of two independent study courses (Poli Sci 199).

Honors candidates for departmental honors are required to take Poli Sci 191A and B in which they write a senior thesis. To be admitted to the Honors Seminar a student must be of senior standing in the first quarter of the seminar, have a minimum GPA of 3.6 in political science, have completed all lower-division requirements including Political Science 30 and five upper-division courses. Also, students must have an adviser prior to enrolling in the Honors Seminar. These courses may be counted toward the upper-division requirement.

Career Guidance

The premise of our educational philosophy is that the best professional preparation for productive careers that we can provide is one that is broad, theoretical, and only indirectly related to the current job market. Our majors graduate into a wide range of career options.

Many political science majors at UC San Diego will seek admission to a law school. Although law schools make no recommendation concerning the usefulness of any undergraduate major, a BA in political science should be seen as a useful complement to a law degree. Students who take courses in American government, policy analysis, and law and politics find that they develop a keen understanding of the role of law in the general political process. This helps students understand the limits and possibilities of the legal process in fostering change or in preserving the status quo. This same curriculum provides a solid foundation for a career in journalism. Students with any specific questions regarding law are advised to consult with career services.

Increasingly, political science majors are preparing for careers in business or as policy analysts in both the public and private sectors. Many of these students pursue advanced degrees in public policy or study for a master’s in business administration. Students interested in this option should look into public policy, American, or comparative politics as an area of concentration. Some political science majors are interested in careers in international organization or diplomacy. These students should look into international relations as an area of concentration. In addition, a broad array of courses in comparative politics is essential for anyone interested in a career of international service.

A political science major offers excellent preparation for teaching in the elementary schools. If you are interested in earning a California teaching credential from UC San Diego, contact the Education Studies Program for information about the prerequisite and professional preparation requirements. It is recommended that you contact the Education Studies Program as early as possible in your academic career.

Students interested in majoring or minoring in political science should stop by the Department of Political Science Office, SSB 301, or visit our website at http://polisci.ucsd.edu.

Study Abroad

Political science majors are encouraged to participate in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) and UC San Diego’s Opportunities Abroad Program (OAP). Information on EAP/OAP is given in the “Education Abroad Program” section of the UC San Diego General Catalog. Interested students should contact the Programs Abroad Office in the International Center and visit its website at http://programsabroad.ucsd.edu. Financial aid can be used for EAP/OAP study, and special study-abroad scholarships are also available.

Global Concentration in Political Science

Political science majors who study abroad and satisfy specified requirements may add the Global Concentration in Political Science. The Global Concentration in Political Science capitalizes on students’ study abroad experience, language skills, and UC San Diego’s global content courses. Increasingly, employers highly value global and international experiences and having the global concentration would allow you to showcase global competency within your political science major. This is a transcripted concentration, meaning it will reflect on your transcript, but not on your final diploma.

This concentration requires

Interested students should see an adviser in the department for additional information.

Minor in Political Science

For students entering UC San Diego winter 1998 or later the following guidelines for a political science minor will apply: seven political science courses, not including Political Science 27, 28, 40, 197SD, and 197I—with a minimum of five upper division. Continuing students may follow the guidelines for a minor of a total of six political science courses, with a minimum of three upper division. All courses taken for a political science minor must be taken for a letter grade.

Interdisciplinary Minor

The Department of Political Science takes part in one interdisciplinary minors offered at UC San Diego. The law and society minor offers students the opportunity to examine the role of the legal system in society. Students should note that Law and Society 101 (Contemporary Legal Issues) may be used in fulfilling the twelve upper-division course requirement for the political science major. Additional information on this program is available through the Warren Interdisciplinary Programs Office.


The Department of Political Science is home to some of the leading scholars in the field representing a broad spectrum of backgrounds, methodologies, and approaches. Our faculty lead a number of active speaker series and ongoing research projects in the department including the Africanist Group, American Politics Speaker Series, Center for the Study of African Political Economy, Comparative Politics Speaker Series, Human Natures Group, International Relations Speaker Series, Political Theory Workshop, Political Economy Lunch Group, Project on International Affairs, and the Race Workshop. The political science community at UC San Diego spans campus through its connections with a number of important research centers and programs including: Center for Global Justice, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, Center for US-Mexican Studies, Dimensions of Culture, International Studies Program, Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, International Migration Studies Program, and the Urban Studies and Planning Program.

Unique research opportunities for undergraduates in our department include the Local Internship Research Program, Research Apprenticeship Program, Senior Honors Program, Study Abroad, and the UC in Washington, DC internship program. Please see an adviser in the department for more information about each program.