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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 U.S. Government: National 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
322 Ethnicity and Nationalism                                                                           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 International Political Theory
316 Ethics and Public Policy
402 Problems in Political Theory

Public Law
301 American Constitutional Law: Equal Protection and Due Process
305 American Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties                                              410 Law, Politics, and Society
425 Legal Regulation of American Democracy

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

Major Requirements
A minimum of 44 semester credits (11 courses), distributed as follows:

  • POLS 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • POLS 103 U.S. Government: National Politics
  • POLS 201 Research Methods in Political Science or IA 200 Research Methods for International Affairs
  • 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
  • Three 200, 300, or 400 level electives from at least two different sub-fields, at least two of which must be 300-level or higher. Students may apply one of the following IA courses as an elective in the comparative politics sub-field:

IA 232 Southeast Asian Politics

IA 290 Middle East Politics

IA 320 Democratization

  • One 400-level course chosen from the following:

POLS 400 Senior Thesis

POLS 402 Problems in Political Theory

POLS 410 Law, Politics, and Society

POLS 420 Policy Innovation

POLS 425 Legal Regulation of American Democracy

POLS 435 Topics in Comparative Politics

  • IA 100 Introduction to International Relations
  • ECON 100 Principles of Economics

For all majors, courses in European and U.S. history, macroeconomics, and international political economy, as well as a semester in Washington, D.C., are recommended. Majors planning to attend law school should add courses in English literature, philosophy (including logic), mathematics, and history. Majors planning to attend graduate school in political science should take courses in mathematics, statistics, and other social sciences. Majors planning a career in politics, public policy, or urban planning should add courses in statistics, communication, economics, and psychology.

Minor Requirements
 A minimum of 20 semester credits (five courses), distributed as follows:

  • POLS 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • POLS 103 U.S. Government: National Politics
  • POLS 310 Pillars of Western Political Thought: Plato to Machiavelli or POLS 311 Pillars of Western Political Thought: Hobbes to Foucault
  • One course in American politics
  • One course in public law

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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