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Undergraduate Major

The mission of the undergraduate program in Political Science is to provide students with a solid grasp of the American political system and other political systems within the context of global forces, international conflicts, social movements, ideological systems and diversity.

About the Major

Students who major in political science will learn how political decisions are made and will develop analytic skills useful in careers in government, business, professional schools, and not-for-profit organizations. To complete a Bachelor of Arts in political science students focus on one-of-five tracks: Justice and Law; Political and Economic Development;  Elections, Representation, and Governance; International Relations; or Data Science.  Students supplement their primary track with a secondary track, an introductory course in political science, and with a variety of courses offered both in the department and throughout the university.  

Students in the program have excellent preparation for further study in graduate or professional schools as well as careers in government, business, and not-for-profit organizations. The Department of Political Science offers two options for undergraduate study. Most students enroll in our Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) program which requires 70 units of study. Enrollment in the B.A. program requires students to first secure an advisor.  Students may also apply to the Political Science Research Honors Program. This program leads to a Bachelor of Arts with Honors (B.A.H) in Political Science.

Graph of PoliSci Tracks after taking PoliSci1

B.A. Requirements

To Receive a B.A. in Political Science a Student Must

Complete a minimum of 70 units:     

  1. 5 units of PoliSci 1: The Science of Politics
  2. 40 units in two Political Science tracks of your choosing:
    1. 25 units in a primary track
    2. 15 units in a secondary track
  3. 5 units of quantitative methods in PoliSci 150A (or Approved Cognate Courses: Stats 60, Econ 102A, or CS 106A)
  4. 20 units of additional Political Science courses, including cognates and Bing Overseas Studies classes, with no more than 5 units of directed reading

Requirement Details

  1. Satisfy a breadth requirement by completing an introductory course: PoliSci 1: The Science of Politics. Freshman or Sophomore Introductory Seminars are recommended in addition to the intro course. These classes count toward tracks or additional units. 
  2. Satisfy a depth requirement by completing a total of 40 units in two of these tracks (25 toward the primary track and 15 toward the secondary):
    1. Data Science
    2. Elections, Representation and Governance    
    3. International Relations
    4. Justice and Law
    5. Political Economy and Development
  3. Complete the required 20 units of additional coursework by taking Political Science courses or courses that are outside the department but approved as cognates, including already-approved Bing Overseas courses.  Directed reading, other Stanford classes, Bing Overseas classes not previously approved, and Stanford in Washington (SIW) courses may be petitioned toward your additional coursework.
  4. Demonstrate a capacity for sustained research and writing in the discipline by taking a Political Science course designated as Writing in the Major (WIM).  This does not have to be taken in your primary track.
  5. Take at least one advanced undergraduate seminar (200 level) in Political Science.
  6. Courses counting towards the major must be taken for a letter grade.  A minimum of ‘C’ is required for courses to count towards major requirements.

Petitioning Courses to Fulfill Major Requirements

  • Students may petition a course toward the major. There is a limit of 25 units of outside the major coursework allowed and petitioned courses would count toward that 25 unit maximum. All petitions must be submitted for review to the undergraduate administrator and approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. All University transfer courses must also be petitioned in the department in order to count for the major. The petition form can be found on our website.
  • Directed reading and Oxford tutorial units require a petition and may only be applied towards related coursework units. These units may not be used to fulfill a depth requirement, and no more than 10 units of directed reading and Oxford tutorial units may count toward the required 70 Political Science units for the major. The specific directed reading petition can be found on our website.


  • Stanford in Washington (SIW) courses not already listed on the approved cognate course list and Oxford tutorials may be listed on your proposal but will need final approval by submitting a petition form, which requires: a final letter grade on your transcript, syllabus, and coursework.
  • Directed readings may be listed on your proposal but will need approval before you register for the directed reading units in a given quarter.  Students must submit a directed reading petition to the undergraduate administrator by the first Friday of the quarter in which they are enrolling in the directed reading.  This petition requires a faculty supervisor signature, project description, and method of evaluation (large research paper, response papers, etc. agreed upon with the supervising faculty member).  If approved, the student will receive a permission number to enroll in the directed reading for that quarter.

Course Number System:

  • 1-99      Introductory Courses
  • 100-199   Intermediate Undergraduate Lecture Courses
  • 200-299   Advanced Undergraduate Seminar Courses
  • ​300-399   Advanced Undergraduate / Graduate Courses
  • 400-499   Graduate Courses

Undergraduate Major Advising

Every prospective POLISCI student must find their own advisor in order to declare the Political Science major.

Steps to take when finding a Political Science Major Advisor:

  1. Consider asking professors who have taught one of your classes.
  2. Research those professors' research interests online.
  3. E-mail one or two of the professors and ask to make an appointment to discuss potential advising.
  4. If you have trouble or can't find anyone, e-mail Brenna Curtis for suggestions and advice.

Who can be an advisor?

Political Science Faculty and courtesy faculty may serve as major advisors.

When do I need an advisor?

Your advisor must personally sign your major declaration form before you will be approved for the major. All undergraduates should declare their major by the end of their Sophomore year.

Can I change my advisor?

It is beneficial for you to establish and maintain a good relationship with your advisor. However, you can change your advisor at any time. Make sure to notify Brenna Curtis to make the change official. You can make an appointment.

How often should I meet with my advisor?

This is up to you. Many students approach their advisors to talk about summer opportunities, quarterly research opportunities, and post-graduation opportunities. Many advisors also typically oversee independent directed readings and are resources for class research papers.

Advisors often provide suggestions on course planning, but they will not review your degree progress. For that, contact Brenna Curtis or make an appointment.


For questions regarding the B.A. program, Research Honors Program or finding an advisor, make an appointment with the undergraduate program administrator, Brenna Curtis, or call 723-1608. Her office is in Encina Hall West, Room 100.