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 two of five tracks: Data Science; Elections, Representation, and Governance; International Relations; Justice and Law; or Political Economy and Development. Students supplement these tracks with an introductory course in political science, a methods course, and a variety of courses offered both in the department and throughout the university.
The Department of Political Science offers both a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree and a Bachelor of Arts with Honors (B.A.H). After enrolling in the B.A., students may apply to the Political Science Honors program.
B.A. in Political Science
Declaring the Major
Students are encouraged to declare the major by the end of the sophomore year.
- Complete a declaration form.
- Choose a major advisor from the Political Science faculty, and meet with them to talk about the major. Ask them to sign your declaration form.
- Make an appointment to meet with adavido [at] stanford.edu (Alexandra Davidovich), the Undergraduate Student Services Officer, and bring your signed declaration form to the meeting, or email Alexandra at adavido [at] stanford.edu (adavido[at]stanford[dot]edu) and attach the signed form.
- Once your form is approved, declare in Axess.
Students majoring in Political Science must complete a minimum of 70 units.
- 5 units in the introductory course, POLISCI 1 The Science of Politics, preferably taken in freshman or sophomore year
- 5 units in a methods course. Select one of the following:
- 25 units in a primary track and 15 units in a secondary track. Each major must select two tracks from the list below on which to focus their studies.
- 20 units of additional related Political Science coursework.
- One 5-unit, 200-level or 300-level undergraduate seminar in Political Science. The seminar course counts towards the 70 units required for the major and may be applied towards the Primary Track, Secondary Track, or Additional Coursework requirements.
- One 5-unit Political Science Writing in the Major (WIM) course. The WIM course counts towards the 70 units required for the major and may be applied towards the Primary Track, Secondary Track, or Additional Coursework requirements. Select one of the following:
- POLISCI 103 Justice
- POLISCI 110C America and the World Economy
- POLISCI 110D War and Peace in American Foreign Policy
- POLISCI 120C American Political Institutions in Uncertain Times
- POLISCI 121 Political Power in American Cities
- POLISCI 148 Chinese Politics
- POLISCI 236S Ethical and Effective Philanthropy for Sustainable Development
- POLISCI 299A Research Design
Note: POLISCI 299A only fulfills the WIM requirement for students who are writing an honors thesis in Political Science.
- Completion of a Political Science Capstone
- Beginning the Academic Year of 2024, candidates for the BA in Political Science can complete their capstone by writing a Senior Honors Thesis or taking one of the Political Science capstone seminars. Students may write an Honors Thesis in the Political Science Departmental Honors Program or another Stanford Honors Program approved by the department. The Political Science Capstone Seminars is a 200-level course designated by the department as a capstone course.
- All courses applied toward the major that are offered for a letter grade must be taken for a letter grade of ‘C’ or higher.
- Up to 2 units in Political Science courses that are not offered for a letter grade may be applied toward the major, if completed for 'CR' or ‘S’ grades. Courses not offered for a letter grade may only be applied to the Additional Related Coursework requirement.
- Non-Political Science department classes not offered for a letter grade may not be applied to the major.
- Courses with a grade of 'CR' (credit) in Winter quarter 2020, 'S' (satisfactory) in Spring 2020, and 'CR' (credit) in Academic Year 2020-2021 may be counted towards satisfaction of undergraduate degree requirements that otherwise require a letter grade.
- See the honors website for grading standards for 2020-2021 honors courses.
- No more than two 3-unit Stanford Introductory Seminar courses or Sophomore College courses can be applied toward the 70 unit major requirement.
- No more than 5 units of directed reading units may count toward the Political Science major. Directed Readings require a petition.
- Student Initiated Courses (SIC) must be petitioned in order to apply to the major using the petition form. If a petition is approved, a maximum of 2 units of Student Initiated Courses may be applied to the major. Student Initiated Courses may only be applied to the Additional Related Coursework requirement for the major.
Counting non-Political Science Courses Toward the Major
- Students may count up to 25 units of coursework from outside the Political Science Department toward the Political Science major. Pre-approved non-Political Science courses are listed on the Pre-Approved Courses page and can be applied directly to the major. Courses from outside of the department that have not been pre-approved can be petitioned toward the major using a petition form. Course petitions are reviewed and, if appropriate, approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Petitions must be submitted to adavido [at] stanford.edu (Alexandra Davidovich), the Undergraduate Student Services Officer, within one quarter of course completion or within one quarter of declaring the major.
- Pre-approved and petitioned courses, including BOSP and SIW classes, may be applied to the major in any combination of the following ways:
- Up to one pre-approved or petitioned course may count toward the primary track.
- Up to one pre-approved or petitioned course may count toward the secondary track.
- One pre-approved course may count toward the methods course requirement. STATS 60, STATS 101, ECON 102A, and CS 106A are courses from outside the Political Science Department and count toward the 25-unit limit. POLISCI 150A does not count toward the 25-unit limit.
- Pre-approved and petitioned courses may count toward the additional coursework requirement.
Double Counting Courses
- Students pursuing a double major may not double count any courses in the Political Science major aside from POLISCI 1 The Science of Politics and the following Methods courses: CS 106A, POLISCI 150A, STATS 60, STATS 101.
- Econ 102A may be taken to fulfill the methods requirement but may not be double counted.
- Students pursuing a primary/secondary major may double count up to 30 units in the Political Science major.
- Students pursuing a minor in another department may not double count any courses in the Political Science major aside from POLISCI 1 The Science of Politics.
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
For questions regarding the B.A. program, Research Honors Program or finding an advisor, make an appointment with the Undergraduate Student Services Officer, Alexandra Davidovich, or email her at adavido [at] stanford.edu (adavido[at]stanford[dot]edu). Our Political Science peer advisors are also excellent resources. Visit this page to find their contact information!