The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Exploring or Declaring a Political Science Major

There are no minimum required pre-requisites or cumulative GPA for the Political Science major, and we'll be glad to assist you in declaring or gathering information on our major.

Political Science majors study political life in the varied contexts in which it occurs—institutions, social movements, power relations, elections, political culture, ideas, and war. The major emphasizes issues central to public life such as democracy, citizenship and participation, inequality, global forces, institutions, and governance. The most significant purpose of the Political Science major is to help educate a reflective and active citizenry capable of sharing power and responsibility in a contemporary democracy. The curriculum supports this goal first by developing students’ skills in comprehending and engaging complex arguments and phenomena. Second, the program emphasizes students’ development of skills in articulating clear, sound, and compelling arguments of their own, based on appropriate evidence, in spoken and written presentation. 

To declare the major come to our peer drop-in hours during Spring 2022:

  • Mondays 10 am – 12 pm & 2 – 3 pm
  • Tuesdays 10 – 11 am & 12 – 2 pm
  • Wednesdays 12 – 2 pm & 3 – 4 pm
  • Thursdays 11 am – 1 pm & 2:30 – 3:30 pm

Major Requirements UMass Entry Fall 2018 or Later

The Department of Political Science requires majors to complete a minimum of 44 credits in Political Science, including the Junior Year Writing and Integrative Experience requirements. All courses counted toward the major must be taken for a letter grade, and no more than 5 transfer courses (or a maximum of 20 credits) may count toward the major. Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA in the Introductory requirements, within the major, as well as overall at the University in order to graduate.

Introductory Requirement
All Political Science majors must complete at least three introductory Political Science courses, with an average grade of C (2.0) or better in the set of courses, as follows (one in each category).

  1. American Politics (101), Introduction to Constitutional Law (162) or Controversies in Public Policy (181)
  2. Comparative Politics (111) or World Politics (121) 
  3. Introduction to Political Theory (171), American Political Thought (203), Ancient Political Thought (270), Modern Political Thought (271), or Power (273)

Upper-Level Requirement

  • Twenty four credits of Political Science upper-level courses (200-level or above), at least 12 of which must be 300-level or above. The Political Science Junior Year Writing course (377) and the Integrative Experience course may be counted among these credits if Political Science is the student's primary major.
  • Not more than 3 credits can be an independent study course or a graded internship. Honors research, Honors project, and Honors thesis courses (499Y, 499P, 499T) are in addition to the 36 credit requirement for the major and will not count toward the major requirements. POLISCI 499C and 499D, will each count toward the upper-level major requirements.

Global Knowledge & Skills Requirement
Students must complete three courses, or 9 credits, for the Global Knowledge & Skills requirement area, choosing one of the following options. Courses in this requirement area must be taken in addition to work completed above. Global Knowledge & Skills list can be found on the department website (see Course Lists).

  1. Option One: Global Course - 3 courses from the Global Knowledge and Skills list
  2. Option two: Certificate (select one from departmental list):
    • Five College African Studies
    • Five College International Relations
    • Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies
    • Five College Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies
  3. Option Three: Study Abroad (IPO-approved program, at least 9 credits worth)
  4. Option Four: Language (9 credits, in sequence)
  5. Option Five: Individualized (9 credits, with approval from the Undergraduate Program Director)