- Subfield Distribution
- Summary of Requirements
- Deadlines for Graduation
- Independent Study
- Third Year
- The BA Colloquium
- BA Thesis Supervision
- Double Majors
- Petitioning for Courses Taken on Campus in other Departments
- Petition to Transfer Credits from Another University
- Petition for Credits for Foreign Study
- Petition for Semester Courses and Year-Long Courses
- Switching from the B.A. Thesis Path to the Long Paper Path
- Approved Courses from Outside Political Science
- Charles Lipson's Power Point Presentation: Majoring in Political Science
- Charles Lipson's Power Point Presentation: Writing a BA Thesis
- Charles Lipson's Power Point Presentation: Three Big Ideas to Help You Write a BA Thesis
Please also visit our faculty directory, under the People section of this website, or by clicking here.
The department requires 12 political science courses for all majors. Students writing a BA thesis must take ten regular political science courses, plus two special required courses: PLSC 29800 (B.A. Colloquium) and PLSC 29900 (B.A. Thesis Supervision). Students not writing a thesis must take twelve regular courses.
In fulfilling these course requirements, students may petition to count up to four courses from outside the department. To simplify the process, the department maintains a list of pre-approved outside courses. Students may also petition individually for other courses. Each petition is reviewed by the program chair on a case-by-case basis. (See the section below on how to petition.)
Courses that meet requirements for the major are typically taken for quality grades. However, students may take up to two courses on a P/F basis as long as the instructor agrees to grade your participation on a pass/fail basis.
To gain a broad understanding of political science, students need to take a wide range of courses. To ensure that breadth, students must take at least one course in three subfields. Each course within the department is designated by its subfield: Political Theory, American Politics, Comparative Politics, or International Relations. A course on Aristotle, for instance, would be classified as Political Theory (which we call subfield "A"). These subfields are identified with a boldface letter at the end of each course description.
- Political Theory: the history of ancient and modern political philosophy, the history of American political thought, and several varieties of contemporary political theory.
- American Politics and Public Policy: American political institutions, behavior, opinions, development, and public policy.
- Comparative Politics: the politics of particular foreign countries and regions and the comparative study of particular political phenomena such as leadership or state formation.
- International Relations: theoretical approaches to the study of politics among nations, the international relations of particular regions, the foreign policies of particular countries, and such topics as international political economy and military security.
Courses outside the department, which students petition for political science credit, may also count toward the subfield distribution. For example, a petition might ask for a course from the philosophy department to be counted as meeting our subfield requirement in Political Theory.
An Independent Study (PLSC 29700) may also count toward the subfield distribution. The faculty member who supervises the course designates its subfield. (See section below on Independent Study.)
PLSC 29800 (B.A. Colloquium) and PLSC 29900 (B.A. Thesis Supervision) do not count toward the subfield distribution.
Summary of Requirements
Besides fulfilling the course requirements, all majors are required to write one longer paper. There are two paths to meeting this requirement:
- B.A. Thesis path
- 12 political science courses. (PLSC 29800, B.A. Colloquium and PLSC 29900, B.A. Thesis Supervision count toward these 12 courses.)
- One or more courses in each of three subfields. Students may choose among four subfields: Political Theory, American Politics, Comparative Politics, or International Relations.
- One quarter of PLSC 29800 (B.A. Colloquium). Does not count toward the subfield distribution.
- One quarter of PLSC 29900 (B.A. Thesis Supervision). Does not count toward the subfield distribution.
- B.A. thesis, either for honors or non-honors, that receives a grade of B or better. The B.A. thesis is normally 35-50 pages in length. The writing and research process is supervised by a faculty member.
- Long Paper path
- 12 political science courses.
- One or more courses in each of three subfields. Students may choose among four subfields: Political Theory, American Politics, Comparative Politics, or International Relations.
- No B.A. Colloquium or B.A. Thesis Supervision. These courses do not count toward the 12 required courses for the Long Paper path.
- One paper, 20 pages or longer (double-spaced), graded B or better by the course instructor (a grade of B- or below does not meet the requirement). If the course requires a shorter paper, students may ask the instructor for permission to write an extended version to meet the departmental requirement. The instructor might permit this, either for the course itself or as an extra assignment. Either is fine. Students may also write the paper after the course is completed and graded, as long as the instructor agrees to read it and signs off on its quality. Any course the department accepts for political science credit is suitable for this assignment. (For example, a history or sociology course that is petitioned for political science credit is fine. So is a political science course taught by an advanced graduate student.)
A FORM certifying the successful completion of this requirement is also available in the department office. Please have the relevant instructor sign the form and return the form and the paper itself to the department office. For the form, please click HERE.
Note: Students may switch from the B.A. Thesis path to the Long Paper path during the 4th year. In that case, the department reminds students that they are required to complete 12 courses (excluding PLSC 29800 and PLSC 29900).
Deadlines for Graduation
Theses and 20 page papers are due in the quarter the student intends to graduate. Papers are due in P 401, at 4 pm, Friday, of the appropriate week. Here are the exact dates:
|Due:||Time and location:||No. of copies|
|B.A. Thesis||4th week of graduating quarter||P 401, Friday, 4 pm||2 copies|
|20 page paper||2nd week of graduating quarter||P 401, Friday, 4 pm||1 copy plus approval FORM|
Thesis students should complete substantial drafts well before the deadline so they can discuss them with their advisers and make final revisions.
Students writing 20 page papers will usually complete them before their final quarter. That's fine. Second week of the graduating quarter is simply the last permissible date to finish them. After the paper has been approved by the course professor (with a grade of B or above), please turn in one copy plus the signed approval FORM at P 401. Students can turn in the paper and signed form in whatever quarter they complete the writing requirement.
A few students with extensive coursework in political science may wish to pursue more specialized topics, not covered by regular courses. They may register for an Independent Study (PLSC 29700), to be taken individually with a member of the political science faculty. An Independent Study like this requires advance approval from the course instructor and the undergraduate program chair in political science. Only one such course may count toward the major's requirements. The Independent Study counts toward the 12 course requirement and may be used to meet the subfield distribution requirement. The faculty member offering the course will designate its subfield in writing on the College Course Reading and Research Form. Each student taking an Independent Study is required to submit that form, which is available from the College advisers.
The substance of the Independent Study may not be related to the B.A. thesis or B.A. research. Such thesis research is covered by a different course, PLSC 29900 (B.A. Thesis Supervision).
Third-year students who are considering a political science major must attend a meeting with the program chair, who will discuss the major, provide information about requirements, and answer questions. Students will be notified by e-mail about the meeting, which is held in the Autumn or Winter. To ensure you receive this e-mail and all other departmental announcements, please sign up for the department's undergraduate e-mail list (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can do that electronically here.
Students who plan to write a B.A. thesis must attend a second meeting with the program chair in Spring Quarter of their third year. This second meeting will focus on methods for doing research, appropriate thesis topics, finding an adviser, and other questions about writing a thesis.
By the end of eighth week of Spring Quarter, students who intend to write a B.A. thesis must have completed a brief (1 or 2 page) proposal describing their topic, chosen a faculty adviser, and gotten the adviser's written approval to supervise the project. Students are required to file their signed, approved proposal with the department. Students who are not in residence during Spring Quarter should still write their proposal and, if possible, locate a thesis adviser by phone or e-mail. Out-of-residence students must contact the program chair before the end of the Spring Quarter and explain their B.A. plans.
The B.A. Colloquium (PLSC 29800)
All students writing a B.A. thesis are required to participate in the B.A. Colloquium in Autumn and Winter Quarters of their fourth year. The colloquium is designed to help students carry out their B.A. thesis research and offer feedback on their progress. It meets weekly in Autumn Quarter and every other week in Winter. Although the course meets over two quarters, it counts as a single course and has a single grade. The grade is based on the student's contribution during both quarters. NOTE: Attendance is required during both quarters, but registration for PLSC 29800 is limited to either Autumn or Winter Quarter of the fourth year.
Students who expect to be out of the country during Autumn or Winter of their fourth year must contact the program chair in advance and make arrangements regarding the Colloquium requirement.
B.A. Thesis Supervision (PLSC 29900)
During their fourth year, students who choose to write a B.A. thesis (and all those applying for honors) must register with their B.A. thesis faculty adviser for one (and only one) quarter of PLSC 29900. NOTE: Students are required to submit the College Course Reading and Research Form, which is available from the College advisers. The final grade for the course is the grade the faculty adviser gives to the B.A. thesis.
Students who have done exceptionally well in their course work and who write an outstanding B.A. thesis are recommended for honors. Honors eligibility requires a GPA in the major of 3.6 or higher and an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher by the end of the quarter prior to graduation. Students who wish to be considered for honors are required to register for PLSC 29800 (B.A. Colloquium), PLSC 29900 (B.A. Thesis Supervision), and submit an honors thesis.
Students who plan to double major may complete the political science requirements by either the B.A. thesis path or the Long Paper path. Students who write the B.A. thesis must attend the political science B.A. Colloquium even if the other major requires attendance at its colloquium.
Double majors who choose to write a B.A thesis may write either separate theses for each department or one thesis to meet both requirements. A request to use a single B.A. thesis requires the approval of both program chairs on a form available from the College adviser or here. This form, signed by both program chairs, must be completed and returned to the College adviser two quarters before the student plans to graduate (typically by the end of Autumn Quarter of the fourth year). To receive honors in political science, the B.A. thesis must be approved by our department at the honors level (see Honors section).
A B.A. thesis submitted in another department can qualify as the 20 page paper for political science. A student doing that would need to complete 12 courses in political science as part of the Long Paper path.
Petitioning for Courses Taken on Campus in other Departments
Students may count up to four courses outside the department to meet the requirements for the political science major. These courses may be drawn from the department's pre-approved list or approved individually by the program chair, based on a student petition.
For courses that students routinely ask about, the department maintains a standard list of courses from other departments that it has pre-approved or denied (please see "Approved Courses from Outside Political Science" below). Courses from this list do not require a special petition.
Students can also petition for courses not on the list, whether they are offered by other departments at the University or by other institutions, in the U.S. or abroad. These courses must have political science content and use methods relevant to the study of political science. Petitions should include the course name, number, and instructor, along with the syllabus, if possible. The petition should briefly explain why the course should count toward the political science requirement. The program chair will evaluate all petitions individually. Students may submit such petitions before enrolling in a course or soon after completing it, but that carries some risk since there is no guarantee the petition will be approved. The department will not consider petitions submitted after the second week of the quarter in which the student intends to graduate.
Petition to Transfer Credits from Another University
Students who transfer here from another university need two different approvals to transfer credits. First, the Dean of Students Office deals with any credits needed to meet general University requirements, such as the total number of courses needed for graduation. The political science department is involved only if a transfer student wishes to count some courses at another university to meet requirements in our major. The rules in this case are the same as those for any other petition: up to four courses outside our department may be counted toward a political science major, if the student's petition is approved. The petition should include a complete description of the course and professor (with the syllabus, if possible) and should be submitted as soon as the transfer student decides to major in political science here. The department will not consider petitions submitted after the second week of the quarter in which the student intends to graduate.
Students who are already enrolled at the University of Chicago and wish to take courses at other universities should petition for approval before taking such courses. They can always petition after the course is completed, but that carries some risk since there is no guarantee the petition will be approved. Courses at other universities, in the U.S. or abroad, are approved only if they meet our departmental standards.
Petition for Credits for Foreign Study
Students registered at the University who take courses abroad should petition the program chair for course credit within one quarter of their return to the University. NOTE: The Office of the Dean of Students in the College must also approve the transfer of all courses from institutions that are not part of the University's study abroad program. For more information, visit the Study Abroad web page. If a student spends an entire year abroad, the Department will consider credit for up to five courses. The department will not consider petitions submitted after the second week of the quarter in which the student intends to graduate.
Petitioning for Semester Courses and Year-Long Courses
According to University rules, a one semester course at another university equals one course here. A two-semester course equals three courses here (since both last a full academic year).
Switching from the B.A. Thesis Path to the Long Paper Path
A student intending to write the B.A. thesis and enrolled in PLSC 29800, B.A. Colloquium and PLSC 29900, B.A. Thesis Supervision, may still switch to the Long Paper path during the fourth year. Doing so, however, requires that the student meet all the requirements for the Long Paper path, including 12 courses in political science. PLSC 29800, B.A. Colloquium and PLSC 29900, B.A. Thesis Supervision, do not count toward this course requirement. (They count toward the course requirement only for students on the B.A. Thesis path.)
Approved Courses from Outside Political Science
Students may draw on the following courses to count toward political science courses required for the program. Some courses may not be offered every year, and other courses will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For updates, visit political-science.uchicago.edu or the departmental office.
ANTH 21254. Intensive Study of a Culture: Pirates. (C)
ANTH 21264. Political Struggles of Highland Asia. (C)
ANTH 21316. Modern Readings in Anthrpology: Militarization. (C)
ANTH 21318. Language, Politics, and Identity. (C)
ANTH 22000. Anthropology of Development. (C)
ANTH 22205. Slavery and Unfree Labor. (C)
ANTH 22715. Weber, Bakhtin, Benjamin. (A)
ANTH 25235. NGOs and Humanitarian Subjects. (C)
ANTH 29715. The Politics of Ethnicity in Burma. (C)
BPRO 22400. The Ugly American Comes Home. (B)
BPRO 28100. What Is Enlightenment? (A)
BPRO 29000. Energy and Energy Policy. (B)
EALC 22501. Political and Intellectual History of China in the Middle Period, A.D. 150-650. (C)
EALC 22630. Democratization of South Korea in Literature and Visual Drama. (C)
EALC 25001. Change, Conflict, and Resistance in Twentieth-Century China. (C)
ECON 20710. Game Theory: A Formal Approach. (A)
ECON 22300. Business Ethics. (B)
ECON 26010. Introduction to Public Finance. (B)
ECON 28600. Introduction to the Economic Analysis of Law. (B)
ECON 28700. The Economics of Crime. (B)
EEUR 24500. Cult of Personality: Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. (C)
ENST 21800. Economics and Environmental Policy. (B)
ENST 23100. Environmental Law. (B)
ENST 24101. U.S. Environmental Politics. (B)
ENST 24102. Environmental Politics. (B)
ENST 24400. Is Development Sustainable? (B)
ENST 24700. Environmental Policy. (B)
ENST. 24701. U.S. Environmental Policy. (B)
ENST 24900. Global Environmental Politics. (C)
FNDL 21603. Machiavelli and Machiavellism. (A)
FNDL 22301. The Ethics of Albert Camus. (A)
FNDL 22704. Plato's Republic. (A)
FNDL 24401. American Originals: Franklin and Lincoln. (A)
GEOG 25300. Seminar: Problems in the Human Geography of the Middle East. (C)
GNDR 23304. Women and Power: Rights Politics in International Perspective. (A)
GNDR 27700. Pragmatism, Feminism, and Democracy. (A)
HIST 12100. War in the Middle Ages. (D)
HIST 13801. Post Soviet Union, 1945 to 1953. (C)
HIST 17202. Globalization. (C)
HIST 17702. War in American Society: Violence, Power and the State. (B)
HIST 18000. War in Modern American Society. (B)
HIST 18500. Politics of Film in Twentieth-Century American History. (B)
HIST 18600. US Labor History. (B)
HIST 21500. John Locke in Historical Context. (A)
HIST 22706. Slavery and Freedom in the Atlantic World. (C)
HIST 22800. Machiavelli and Renaissance Italy. (A)
HIST 23004. Montesquieu and the Enlightenment. (A)
HIST 23301. Europe, 1660-1830. (C)
HIST 23303. Europe, 1930-Present. (C)
HIST 23401. Genocide of European Jews, 1933 to 1945. (C)
HIST 23702. Soviet History Survey. (C)
HIST 24702. Globalization and Asia. (C)
HIST 25300. American Revolution 1763-1789. (B)
HIST 25306. History of Modern Economic Thought. (A)
HIST 25600. Contemporary Central Asia. (C)
HIST 25902. History of Israel-Arab Conflict. (C)
HIST 26311. Great Migrations. (B)
HIST 26405. US Imperialism in Latin America. (C)
HIST 26601. Postcolonial Theory. (A)
HIST 26802. Colonial Rule in South Asia. (C)
HIST 27010. Politics of Reproduction in Historical Perspective. (B)
HIST 27108. The Politics of Mass Incarceration, 1945-present. (B)
HIST 27301. War, Gender, and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century America. (B)
HIST 27301. Introduction to Black Chicago. (B)
HIST 27400. Race and Racism in American History. (B)
HIST 27900. Asian Wars of the Twentieth Century. (C)
HIST 27901. Asian American History. (B)
HIST 28102. Business History in the Late 20th Century. (B)
HIST 28400. Modern American Legal History. (B)
HIST 28402. US and the World Since 1945. (D)
HIST 28604. Law and Social Movements in Modern America. (B)
HIST 29410. Cultural Globalization: History and Theory. (D)
HIST 29500. Law and Social Theory. (A)
HIST 29507. Overcoming Torture: Past and Present. (C)
HIST 29600. Chicago and the South Side. (B)
HMRT 20100. Human Rights I: Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. (A)
HMRT 20200. Human Rights II: Historical Underpinnings of Human Rights. (A)
HMRT 20300. Human Rights III: Contemporary Issues in Human Rights. (A)
HMRT 20500. Human Rights and International Relations. (D)
HMRT 21200. Armed Conflict and Politics of Humanitarian Action. (D)
HMRT 22230. State Collapse and State Reconstruction. (D)
HMRT 23630. Secularism & Religious Freedom in America and South Asia. (C)
HMRT 24701. Human Rights: Alien and Citizen. (D)
HMRT 26101. Accountability for International Human Rights Abuses. (D)
HMRT 26300. Practices of Othering and the Logic of Human Rights Violations. (D)
HMRT 26400. What is a Human? The New Sciences, the Nature/Culture Divide and Human Rights. (A)
HMRT 27400. Sex Trafficking and Human Rights. (A)
HMRT 27500. Corruption and Human Rights: An Analysis of Governance and Justice in the Developing World. (D)
HMRT 28602. Health Care and the Limits of State Action. (D).
HMRT 29500. Reason & Passion: The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law. (D)
HUMA 26302. Human Condition: Self as Subject/Object/Machine. (A)
INST 23101. Contemporary Global Issues I. (D)
INST 23102. Contemporary Global Issues II. (D)
INST 23310. Do POWs Have Rights?: The Geneva Conventions from 1864 to Today. (D)
INST 27301. The Politics of Global Governance. (D) Please note: this course counts as a "regular" political science course (does not count as a petitioned course).
INST 27405. Seminar on Nuclear Proliferation. (D) Please note: this course counts as a "regular" political science course (does not count as a petitioned course).
INST 27501. Local Bodies, Global Capital: Speculative, Scientific and Spectral Economies. (D)
INST 27605. War, Sovereignty and the Subject of International Politics. (D)
INST 28201. Chinese Foreign Policy. (D)
INST 28250. The Global Condition. (D)
INST 28303. Introduction to European Issues. (D)
INST 28400. Lectures on International Organizations. (D)
INST 28530. Critical Theories of the Hyper-Modern. (D)
INST 28801. Propaganda States of the 20th Century. (C)
INST 29302. U.S. Intervention in Latin American. (D)
INST 29315. American Globalization: 1607 to Present. (D)
INST 29500. Transnationalism. (D)
ISHU 23800. Thought of Hannah Arendt. (A)
ITAL 23000. Machiavelli and Machiavellism. (A)
LACS 21122. Imperialism and Culture in US-Latin American Relations. (C)
LACS 21705. Seminar: Human Rights in Latin America. (C)
LACS 29601. The Age of Revolution in the Americas. (C)
LLSO 22400. Rhetorical Theories of Legal Reasoning. (A)
LLSO 24200. Legal Reasoning. (B)
LLSO 24300. American Laws and the Rhetoric of Race. (B)
LLSO 24711. Lincoln: Slavery, War, and the Constitution. (A)
LLSO 26502. The American Revolution: Culture & Politics. (B)
LLSO 27401. American Originals: Franklin and Lincoln. (A)
LLSO 28203. Writing Speeches. Reagan and Obama. (B)
MATH 19510. Mathematics Methods for Social Sciences I. (A)
MATH 19520. Math Methods for Soc Sci. (A)
MATH 19610. Mathematics Methods for Social Sciences II. (A)
MATH 19620. Linear Algebra. (A)
MATH 20300. Analysis in Rn-1. (A)
MATH 20400. Analysis in Rn-2. (A)
MATH 20500. Analysis in Rn-3. (A)
NEHC 20505. Jews Under Islamic Rule. (C)
NEHC 20511. Islam and the State: Origins and Evolution of Political Thought in Islam. (A)
PBPL 20000. Economics for Public Policy. (B)
PBPL 22100. Politics and Policy. (B)
PBPL 22300. Problems of Public Policy Implementation. (B)
PBPL 25405. Child Poverty and Chicago Schools. (B)
PBPL 24750. The Evolving Social Sector; The Business of Non-Profits. (B)
PBPL 25300. Social Welfare in the United States. (B)
PBPL 25405. Child Poverty and Chicago Schools. (B)
PBPL 25630. Poverty, Work, and Family Policy. (B)
PBPL 25800. Public Choice. (B)
PBPL 26200. Field Research Project in Public Policy I. (B)
PBPL 26300. Field Research Project in Public Policy II. (B)
PBPL 26400. Quantitative Methods in Public Policy. (A)
PBPL 26709. Public Policy: The Great Books and Articles. (B)
PBPL 26920. Identity, Advocacy and Public Policy in Chicago. (B)
PBPL 27501. Regulating Speech. (B)
PBPL 27705. Human Rights and World Politics. (C)
PBPL 28501. Process and Policy in State and City Government. (B)
PBPL 29304. Urban Neighborhoods, Urban Schools. (B)
PHIL 20703. The Social Contract Theorists. (A)
PHIL 21000. Introduction to Ethics. (A)
PHIL 21300. Torture and Contemporary Moral Thought. (A)
PHIL 21423. Marx. (A)
PHIL 21580. Libertarianism. (A)
PHIL 21600. Political Philosophy. (A)
PHIL 21605. Justice. (A)
PHIL 24410. Human Rights and Human Nature: Philosophical Approaches. (A)
PHIL 24790. Self Transformation and Political Resistance. (A)
PHIL 24800. Foucault and the History of Sexuality. (A)
PHIL 25704. Plato's Republic. (A)
PPHA 32501. Red State, Blue State: Public Opinion, Elections and Policy. (B)
PSYC 23850. Groups: Attachment, Conflict and Resolution. (B)
PSYC 23900. Political Psychology. (B)
PSYC 32550. Psychology of Ideology. (A)
PSYC 24300. Qualitative Methods in Social Sciences. (A)
SALC 20700. Critics of Colonialism: Gandhi and Fanon. (A)
SALC 20702. Colonizations III. (A)
SOCI 20001. Sociological Methods. (A)
SOCI 20005. Sociological Theory. (A)
SOCI 20102. Social Change. (A)
SOCI 20103. Social Stratification. (A)
SOCI 20111. Survey Analysis I. (A)
SOCI 20120. Urban Policy Analysis. (B)
SOCI 20138. Politics, Participation, and Organization. (B)
SOCI 20146. Culture and Politics. (B)
SOCI 20171. Law, Organizations, and Markets. (B)
SOCI 20173. Inequality: Race, Class, Gender, and Neighborhood in American Society. (B)
SOCI 20184. Political Culture, Social Capital, and The Arts. (B)
SOCI 20193. Religious Politics in the Neo-Liberal Epoch. (C)
SOCI 20209. Culture and Social Networks. (B)
SOCI 21800. Social and Political Movements. (B)
SOCI 22700. Urban Structure and Process. (B)
SOCI 23100. Revolutions and Rebellions in Twentieth-Century China. (C)
SOCI 23500. Political Sociology. (B)
SOCI 25500. Survey Research Overview. (A)
SOCI 26900. Globalization: Empirical/Theoretical Elements. (C)
SOCI 27900. Global-Local Politics. (B)
SOCI 28050. Understanding Social Change in China. (C)
SOCI 40110. Intro to Max Weber. (A)
SOSC 20600. Qualitative Methods in the Social Sciences. (A)
STAT 22000. Statistical Methods and Applications. (A)
STAT 23400. Statistical Models and Methods. (A)
Petitions to use the following courses for political science credit will not be approved:
ECON 19800. Intro to Microeconomics.
ECON 19900. Intro to Macroeconomics.
ECON 20000. Elements of Economic Analysis 1.
ECON 20100. Elements of Economic Analysis 2.
ECON 22200. Topics in American Economic History.
ECON 26600. Economics of Urban Policies.
Any introductory civilization courses.