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Political Science

Majoring & Minoring

 Programs and Requirements

The Major Program

The political science curriculum is organized around five sub-fields: American politics, comparative politics, political theory, public law, and methodology. Courses are offered in American politics and comparative politics at the introductory and advanced levels. Courses in public law, political theory, and methodology are normally taken only after students have completed introductory courses. The major culminates with a capstone course (which may take the form of a senior thesis by invitation). Capstone courses are advanced 400-level courses, usually specialized in their focus, that require intensive class discussion and a significant research paper. Note that a senior thesis is required for students seeking departmental honors. 

Political science majors can pursue independent study under individual faculty supervision, including practical applications and experiences such as internships with elected officials, interest groups, and government agencies. The department’s semester of study in Washington, D.C., one of the more distinguished programs of its kind in the country, includes class meetings with some of America’s most influential politicians and decision makers, combined with a rigorous curriculum of in-class instruction.

The political science department uses local and regional resources, including visits to the Oregon state legislature in Salem and to county and city political offices in the Portland metropolitan area. Other resources include numerous governmental agencies in the Portland area, interest groups, and political movements. 

The political science curriculum is organized into the following sub-fields:

American Politics
103 Introduction to American Politics
252 Public Opinion and Survey Research
253 Public Policy
275 Gender and Politics
302 Political Parties and Interest Groups
307 Government and the Economy
350 Congressional Politics
351 Presidential Politics
353 The National Policy Process
359 Religion and Politics
420 Policy Innovation

Comparative Politics
102 Introduction to Comparative Politics
250 Transitions to Democracy and Authoritarianism
314 Russian Politics in Comparative Perspective
318 Civil Society, Politics, and the State
325 European Politics
354 Comparative Electoral Politics
435 Topics in Comparative Politics

Political Theory
309 American Political Thought
310 Pillars of Western Political Thought: Plato to Machiavelli
311 Pillars of Western Political Thought: Hobbes to Foucault
313 Global Justice
316 Ethics and Public Policy
402 Problems in Political Theory

Public Law
255 Law, Lawyers, and Society
301 American Constitutional Law: Equal Protection and Due Process
305 American Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties 
425 Legal Regulation of American Democracy

Methodology and Thesis
201 Research Methods in Political Science
400 Senior Thesis

Major and minor requirements recently have been changed to provide more flexibility for students. The requirements below reflect the new standards contained in the 2018-2019 Catalog.

Major Requirements (44 credits)

  • POLS 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics 
  • POLS 103 Introduction to American Politics 
  • POLS 201 Research Methods in Political Science 
  • POLS 301 American Constitutional Law: Equal Protection and Due Process or POLS 305 American Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties 
  • POLS 310 Pillars of Western Political Thought: Plato to Machiavelli or   POLS 311 Pillars of Western Political Thought: Hobbes to Foucault or POLS 312 The Fate of Democracy 
  • One 400-level course chosen from the following: 
    • POLS 400 Senior Thesis 
    • POLS 402 Problems in Political Theory 
    • POLS 420 Policy Innovation 
    • POLS 425 Legal Regulation of American Democracy 
    • POLS 435 Topics in Comparative Politics 
  • Five electives, satisfying the following conditions: 
    • Electives must include two 300-level courses 
    • Electives must represent at least two of the following fields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, Public Law, Political Theory 
    • Electives may include no more than two of the following: 
      • IA 100 or ECON 100 
      • IA 220 Global South 
      • IA 232 Southeast Asian Politics 
      • IA 262 Religion & Global Politics 
      • IA 290 Middle East Politics 
      • IA 320 Democratization 
    • Electives may not include POLS 244 (Internship / Practicum) 

Minor Requirements (24 credits)

  • POLS 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics  
  • POLS 103 Introduction to American Politics 
  • Four electives, including one at the 300 level or higher. 
    • Electives may not include POLS 244 (Internship / Practicum) 
    • Electives may include no more than one of the following: 
      • IA 220 Global South 
      • IA 232 Southeast Asian Politics 
      • IA 262 Religion & Global Politics 
      • IA 290 Middle East Politics 
      • IA 320 Democratization  

Honors and Senior Thesis

In the spring semester, juniors who have achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher in the major and overall are invited to apply to the department for placement in Political Science 400, Senior Thesis. Students who fall below a 3.0 GPA may be granted an exception to apply on a case-by-case basis. Majors who have achieved a GPA of 3.500 or higher in the major and overall may be considered for honors. After the student completes and formally presents the thesis, the political science faculty determine whether to grant honors on graduation.

For more information, see the L&C Catalog.

Political Science

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