Major and Minor
Overview: the Major and Minor in Political Science
Students generally begin the major with 200-level courses, which provide a general introduction to subfields of political science as well as background for 300-level courses. Majors should choose 200-level courses from at least two subfields: American politics, comparative politics, international politics, and political theory.
While some students choose most of their courses from within one or two subfields, most take a wide variety of courses that span different areas.
Concentrations are not required, but majors are encouraged to consult with department advisers to design individualized programs of study. For example, students have designed concentrations around themes such as race, ethnicity, and politics; global transformation; representation and law; social and economic inequalities; terrorism and national security; and citizenship studies.
Students planning to major in political science are advised to complete the 200-level gateway courses and at least one 300-level course in political science by the end of sophomore year. Majors should complete their methodology requirement by the end of junior year and before taking the 395 research seminar. Students should plan to take 395 in junior year or early in senior year. Those who plan to pursue honors must take 395 in junior year.
Undergraduate students with an excellent academic record in political science are encouraged to explore enrolling in 400-level graduate seminars, listed here. These courses offer exposure to advanced debates, as well as a unique chance to get to know a professor in a small-class setting. 400-level courses are especially great learning experiences for students considering pursuing graduate school. Undergraduates interested in a 400-level course should reach out to the instructor, as registration requires the instructor’s permission
Major Requirements, effective Fall 2014Department courses (12 units)
- Three gateway courses chosen from POLI_SCI 201, 220, 230, 240, 250
- One methodology course in Political Science chosen from POLI_SCI 210, 211, 310, 311, 312
- POLI_SCI 395 (Political Research Seminar)
- Seven additional 300-level courses in Political Science (note that CFS 391, 394, 396, or 397 may substitute for at most one of these courses).
- A maximum of two courses per quarter taken while studying abroad may count toward the Political Science major. More courses may be accepted toward the major for longer study abroad programs.
- Urban Politics, previously 221, is now 321. Effective Fall 2018, Urban Politics is a 300-level elective. For students who took this course prior to Fall 2018, this serves as a gateway course. Students who took Urban Politics as 221 may take no more than two American Politics gateway courses (220, 221, and 230) to fulfill the gateway requirement.
- At most two units of POLI_SCI 399 may count toward the 300-level requirement for the major.
- Courses taken P/N cannot be counted toward the major.
- Receiving a 5 on an AP exam (either American Government or Comparative Politics) can place students out of the equivalent 200-level course, but does not reduce the total number of courses (12) required to complete the major. Thus, instead of taking 220 or 250, the student must take an additional 300-level course. Students wishing to use their AP credit in this fashion must meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies and place the request.
- Only one additional POLI SCI 395 course may count towards the 300-level requirement for the major.
- Honors thesis seminars POLI SCI 398-1 Senior Thesis Seminar and POLI SCI 398-2 Senior Thesis Seminar do not count toward the major.
Questions should be directed to the Director of Undergraduate Studies regarding major requirements for students who entered Northwestern prior to Fall 2014.
Minor in Political Science
The minor offers a student the opportunity to complete an abbreviated yet coherent plan of study in Political Science. It is also designed to enable a student to enrich his or her studies in various ways, especially by (1) complementing a major in another field (for example, philosophy, economics, history, sociology, math, art, or language) by adding a Political Science perspective on key subjects, and (2) preparing for certain careers (for example, law, public service, business, or teaching) by taking courses in Political Science that address relevant topics. The minor is structured to permit students to explore a variety of courses across subfields in political science or to concentrate their studies in one of them. Prospective minors are encouraged to consult with an undergraduate advisor to develop a program of study tailored to their needs.
Department courses (6 units):
- At least two 200-level courses chosen from 201, 220, 230, 240, 250
- Four additional political science courses, including at least three at the 300 level
- At most one (1) course from study abroad may count toward the minor.
- At most two units of POLI SCI 399 may count towards the minor.
- Courses taken P/F cannot be counted toward the minor.
- Receiving a 5 on an AP exam (either American Government or Comparative Politics) can place students out of the equivalent 200-level course, but does not reduce the total number of courses (6) required to complete the minor. Thus, instead of taking 220 or 250, the student must take an additional 300-level course. Students wishing to use their AP credit in this fashion must meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to place the request.
- Urban Politics, previously 221, is now 321. For students who took this course prior to Fall 2018, this was a gateway course. Effective Fall 2018, Urban Politics, 321, is a 300-level elective.