Political Science Major, B.A.

Are you interested in politics in the U.S. and globally? Questions concerning how we ought to govern ourselves? Critical issues such as health, the environment, migration, and civil rights? Theories about how power and resources are allocated in society? Do you want to study these subjects and pursue a career based on your interests? If so, you should consider studying political science.

As Harold Laswell famously noted, politics is “who gets what, when, and how.” Political science focuses on the study of politics in the United States and around the world. As a political science major, you will take a broad range of courses across five subfields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, and political methodology. The flexible major requirements also allow you to focus your coursework on the areas of political science that draw your interest.

Political science majors gain a versatile set of analytical and organizational skills that can be applied in a wide range of exciting careers in government, law, business, international organizations, nonprofit organizations, survey research, journalism, and teaching.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the political science program, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a command of at least one of the following areas of substantive knowledge:
    • Themes and concepts that have shaped the Western political tradition, as well as core contemporary political theoretical issues
    • Principles and processes of American political institutions, political behavior, and civic culture
    • Principles and processes of political institutions, political behavior, and civic culture in societies other than the United States
    • Fundamental structures and forces that shape relations between states
  • Demonstrate competence in the identification, use, and development of theoretical explanations appropriate for the study of their respective areas of substantive focus. These skills may include:
    • Evaluating competing theories of political explanation
    • Reconstructing the logic of political theories
    • Constructing theoretical models intended to address specific questions in political analysis
  • Demonstrate a working understanding of the methods appropriate for developing rigorous description and explanation of political phenomena. These may include one or more of the following, depending on the student’s area of substantive interest:
    • Principles of textual interpretation and critical evaluation
    • Identification, collection, and organization of empirical data
    • Use of qualitative, quantitative, and other analytical techniques for analyzing data

Requirements 

In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • earn a minimum final cumulative GPA of 2.000
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major core requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.000 in the major core requirements. Some programs may require higher standards for major or specific courses.

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Core Requirements
Nine courses, including the following courses and including at least one 400-level political science (POLI) course:
POLI 100IDEAs in Action General Education logo American Democracy in Changing Times H, F3
POLI 150IDEAs in Action General Education logo International Relations and Global Politics H, F3
One course in comparative politics chosen from:3
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Comparative Politics H, F
Politics of the United Kingdom H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Comparative Politics of the Middle East H
Comparative Politics of the Global South
IDEAs in Action General Education logo The Politics of Russia and Eurasia H
Politics of East-Central Europe H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo The Politics of China
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Politics of the Global South: Latin America H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to European Government H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Comparative Political Behavior H
One course in political theory chosen from:3
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Feminism and Political Theory
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Classical Political Thought H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Modern Political Thought H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo The Ethics of Peace, War, and Defense
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Nationalism, Immigration and the Politics of Identity H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Major Issues in Political Theory H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo American Political Thought H
Social and Political Philosophy H
Contemporary Political Thought H
Problems of Modern Democratic Theory H
The Political Theory of the American Founding
The Politics, Philosophy, and Economics of Education
One course in research methods chosen from: 13
Analyzing Public Opinion H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Data in Politics I: An Introduction
Applied Experimental Research: Politics in the US and Europe
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Strategy and International Relations
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Strategy and Politics
Data in Politics II: Frontiers and Applications
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Political Psychology H
Game Theory
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Honors Seminar in Research Design
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Data Science and Econometrics H
Quantitative Methods in Geography
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Research Methods in Geography
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Knowledge and Society H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Philosophy of the Social Sciences
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Theory of Knowledge
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Induction, Probability, and Confirmation
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Quantitative Analysis for Public Policy H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Research Methods in Psychology
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Research Methods
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Data Analysis
Four political science (POLI) electives at the 100 level or above 2, 312
Total Hours27
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

Whenever possible, students are encouraged to take a research methods course in political science. However, students with a second major in a related discipline may find it beneficial to fulfill this requirement with one of the alternative courses.

2

First-year seminars, POLI 193, and POLI 291 may not count as electives for the political science major.

3

Whenever possible, students should take an introductory course in a subfield (American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory) before taking more advanced courses in the subfield. 

Data in Politics

The Data in Politics track provides political science majors an opportunity to develop valuable data analysis skills and engage in cutting-edge political science research. As part of this track, students can take a two-course core sequence and additional applied data analysis courses. The Data in Politics core sequence teaches students how to work with and analyze social science data. Applied data analysis courses build on this foundation by providing students opportunities to actively use data skills as part of a research paper or other class project.

Data in Politics Core Sequence
POLI 281IDEAs in Action General Education logo Data in Politics I: An Introduction3
POLI 381Data in Politics II: Frontiers and Applications3
Applied Data Analysis Courses
POLI 209Analyzing Public Opinion H3
POLI 350IDEAs in Action General Education logo Peace Science Research3
POLI 395IDEAs in Action General Education logo Mentored Research in Political Science1-3
POLI 416Constitutional Policies and the Judicial Process3
POLI 417IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Political Psychology H3
POLI 429Diversity and Politics3
POLI 447Immigrant Integration in Contemporary Western Europe H3
POLI 453IDEAs in Action General Education logo When Countries Go Broke: Political Responses to Financial Crises3
POLI 692HIDEAs in Action General Education logo Honors Thesis Research3
POLI 693HIDEAs in Action General Education logo Honors Thesis Research3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

American Politics

American politics courses examine political behavior and institutions in the United States at the federal, state, and local levels. These courses explore topics such as campaigns and elections, public opinion, Congress, the presidency, the judicial system, and state politics.

Introductory Course
POLI 100IDEAs in Action General Education logo American Democracy in Changing Times H, F3
Specialized Courses
POLI 200IDEAs in Action General Education logo The President, Congress, and Public Policy3
POLI 201IDEAs in Action General Education logo Politics of Bureaucracy3
POLI 202The United States Supreme Court3
POLI 203IDEAs in Action General Education logo Race, Innocence, and the Decline of the Death Penalty4
POLI 204IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Southern Politics3
POLI 205IDEAs in Action General Education logo Politics in the U.S. States H3
POLI 206IDEAs in Action General Education logo Race and the Right to Vote in the United States3
POLI 207The Politics of Organized Interests3
POLI 208IDEAs in Action General Education logo Political Parties and Elections H3
POLI 209Analyzing Public Opinion H3
POLI 211Religion and Politics3
POLI 215IDEAs in Action General Education logo Political Psychology: An Introduction3
POLI 217IDEAs in Action General Education logo Women and Politics3
POLI 220IDEAs in Action General Education logo Race, Ethnicity, and Electoral Representation in the United States3
POLI 240IDEAs in Action General Education logo African American Politics3
POLI 248IDEAs in Action General Education logo Intersectionality: Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Justice3
POLI 333IDEAs in Action General Education logo Race and Public Policy in the United States3
POLI 345Buying Influence: Interest Groups and Public Policy3
Advanced Courses
POLI 400Executive Politics3
POLI 401Political Economy I: The Domestic System3
POLI 404IDEAs in Action General Education logo Race, Immigration, and Urban Politics3
POLI 406State Governments: Laboratories of Democracy3
POLI 409Mock Constitutional Convention3
POLI 410The Constitution of the United States3
POLI 411Civil Liberties under the Constitution H3
POLI 412United States National Elections H3
POLI 416Constitutional Policies and the Judicial Process3
POLI 417IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Political Psychology H3
POLI 418Mass Media and American Politics3
POLI 419Race and Politics in the Contemporary United States H3
POLI 420Legislative Politics H3
POLI 421IDEAs in Action General Education logo Framing Public Policies3
POLI 422Minority Representation in the American States3
POLI 424IDEAs in Action General Education logo Legislative Procedure in Congress3
POLI 428Sexuality, Race, and Gender: Identity and Political Representation3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

Global Politics

Global politics courses explore politics beyond the United States through the study of comparative politics and international relations. Comparative politics courses examine domestic political institutions and processes in countries around the world, while international relations courses explore political and economic relations in the international system.

Introductory Courses
POLI 130IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Comparative Politics H, F3
POLI 150IDEAs in Action General Education logo International Relations and Global Politics H, F3
Specialized Courses
POLI 210IDEAs in Action General Education logo Global Issues and Globalization3
POLI 231Latin America and the United States in World Politics3
POLI 232Politics of the United Kingdom H3
POLI 233IDEAs in Action General Education logo Comparative Politics of the Middle East H3
POLI 234Comparative Politics of the Global South3
POLI 235IDEAs in Action General Education logo The Politics of Russia and Eurasia H3
POLI 236Politics of East-Central Europe H3
POLI 237IDEAs in Action General Education logo The Politics of China3
POLI 238IDEAs in Action General Education logo Politics of the Global South: Latin America H3
POLI 239IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to European Government H3
POLI 241IDEAs in Action General Education logo Comparative Political Behavior H3
POLI 252International Organizations and Global Issues H3
POLI 253Problems in World Order3
POLI 254International Environmental Politics3
POLI 255International Migration and Citizenship Today H3
POLI 256IDEAs in Action General Education logo The Politics of the First Era (1880-1914) of Globalization3
POLI 257IDEAs in Action General Education logo Politics, Society, and Culture in Postwar Germany3
POLI 260IDEAs in Action General Education logo Crisis and Change in Russia and Eastern Europe3
POLI 350IDEAs in Action General Education logo Peace Science Research3
Advanced Courses
POLI 428Sexuality, Race, and Gender: Identity and Political Representation3
POLI 429Diversity and Politics3
POLI 430Analysis of National Security Policy3
POLI 431African Politics and Societies3
POLI 432Tolerance in Liberal States3
POLI 433Politics of the European Union H3
POLI 434Politics of Mexico3
POLI 435IDEAs in Action General Education logo Democracy and Development in Latin America H3
POLI 438IDEAs in Action General Education logo Democracy and International Institutions in an Undivided Europe3
POLI 440IDEAs in Action General Education logo How to Stay in Power When the People Want You Dead: The Politics of Authoritarian Survival3
POLI 441Israeli Politics and Society3
POLI 442IDEAs in Action General Education logo International Political Economy3
POLI 443American Foreign Policy: Formulation and Conduct3
POLI 444IDEAs in Action General Education logo Terrorism and International Peace3
POLI 447Immigrant Integration in Contemporary Western Europe H3
POLI 448The Politics of Multilevel Governance3
POLI 449Beg, Borrow, or Steal: How Governments Get Money and Its Effects on Accountability3
POLI 450Contemporary Inter-American Relations H3
POLI 451Race, Ethnicity, and Political Change in Comparative Perspective3
POLI 452IDEAs in Action General Education logo Africa and International Conflict3
POLI 453IDEAs in Action General Education logo When Countries Go Broke: Political Responses to Financial Crises3
POLI 457International Conflict Processes3
POLI 458IDEAs in Action General Education logo International Conflict Management and Resolution H3
POLI 459Trans-Atlantic Security H3
POLI 469Conflict and Intervention in the Former Yugoslavia H3
POLI 630Political Contestation in Europe3
POLI 631European Security: The Enlarging European Union and the Trans-Atlantic Relationship3
POLI 632The European Union as a Global Actor3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

Political Theory

Political theory courses examine political ideas and values like justice, power, and democracy that we use to describe, understand, and assess political practices and institutions. These courses analyze the writings and ideas of political thinkers in the classical and modern worlds.

Introductory Courses
POLI 270IDEAs in Action General Education logo Classical Political Thought H3
POLI 271IDEAs in Action General Education logo Modern Political Thought H3
Specialized Courses
POLI 265IDEAs in Action General Education logo Feminism and Political Theory3
POLI 272IDEAs in Action General Education logo The Ethics of Peace, War, and Defense3
POLI 275IDEAs in Action General Education logo Nationalism, Immigration and the Politics of Identity H3
POLI 276IDEAs in Action General Education logo Major Issues in Political Theory H3
POLI 280IDEAs in Action General Education logo American Political Thought H3
Advanced Courses
POLI 470Social and Political Philosophy H3
POLI 471Contemporary Political Thought H3
POLI 472Problems of Modern Democratic Theory H3
POLI 476The Political Theory of the American Founding3
POLI 477Advanced Feminist Political Theory3
POLI 478The Politics, Philosophy, and Economics of Education3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Research Methods

Courses in political methodology examine the methods that political scientists use to conduct research. Empirical methods courses teach students how to collect and analyze data and evidence to understand political phenomena, while formal theory courses introduce students to the use of mathematical models to analyze political decision making.

Empirical Methods Courses
POLI 209Analyzing Public Opinion H3
POLI 281IDEAs in Action General Education logo Data in Politics I: An Introduction3
POLI 285Applied Experimental Research: Politics in the US and Europe3
POLI 381Data in Politics II: Frontiers and Applications3
POLI 417IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Political Psychology H3
POLI 691HIDEAs in Action General Education logo Honors Seminar in Research Design3
Formal Theory Courses
POLI 287IDEAs in Action General Education logo Strategy and International Relations3
POLI 288IDEAs in Action General Education logo Strategy and Politics3
POLI 488Game Theory3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
First-Year Foundations Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch F 3
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Global Language through level 3 varies
Additional General Education and elective courses 13
Major Courses
POLI 100 IDEAs in Action General Education logo American Democracy in Changing Times H, F 3
POLI 150 IDEAs in Action General Education logo International Relations and Global Politics H, F 3
Hours 30
Sophomore Year
POLI ---Comparative politics course 3
POLI ---Political theory course 3
Research methods course 3
Additional General Education and elective courses 21
Hours 30
Junior Year
Two POLI elective courses 1 6
Additional General Education and elective courses 24
Hours 30
Senior Year
Two POLI elective courses 1 6
Additional General Education and elective courses 24
Hours 30
Total Hours 120
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

At least one political science course must be at the 400 level.

Special Opportunities in Political Science

Political Science Major, NUS Joint Degree

Political science majors may wish to consider applying for the Joint Degree Program, an innovative joint undergraduate degree program joining the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National University of Singapore. UNC–Chapel Hill undergraduates spend anywhere from two to four semesters at the National University of Singapore and receive a joint bachelor of arts degree from both institutions. For further information, contact the Study Abroad Office.

Honors in Political Science

The honors program provides political science majors the opportunity to pursue an independent research project over a two-semester period. Students begin the program by taking POLI 691H in the spring semester of their junior year. During this course they complete a thesis proposal.

If the proposal is acceptable, students continue their thesis research in the senior year under the supervision of the honors director and a faculty advisor in POLI 692H and POLI 693H. A maximum of two honors thesis courses can count as elective credit in the major. Upon successful completion of the program, which includes an oral defense of the thesis, students are awarded a degree with honors or with highest honors in political science.

To be admitted to the honors program, students must have at least a 3.3 overall grade point average and a 3.5 in political science courses. They should have completed at least four courses in the major. Students interested in participating in the honors program should apply by October 15 of their junior year. For further information on the honors program, please consult the department's website.

High-Impact/Experiential Education

Internship courses provide students with the opportunity to earn academic credit while obtaining practical work experience in agencies and organizations clearly related to the study of political science. Political science majors who would like to obtain credit for internship work in government or public service must enroll in POLI 193. While this course satisfies the experiential education General Education requirement, POLI 193 is offered on a Pass/Fail basis only and does not count towards the nine courses required for the major. For specific information about the procedures and requirements for POLI 193, please consult the department’s website.

Study Abroad

Because we live in an increasingly globalized society, students are encouraged to study abroad as they are able. Students interested in the fields of comparative politics and international relations are strongly urged to participate in a study abroad program; indeed, all students may find the experience to be transformational and helpful in choosing a career path. Students are advised to work with the Study Abroad Office and to contact the undergraduate advisor when planning their study abroad experience. For information about applying study abroad credit toward the political science major, please consult the department’s website.

Undergraduate Research

Courses in political science often include a research component, and students may engage in directed research under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The honors program provides political science majors the opportunity to pursue an independent research project over a two-semester period, culminating in a senior thesis. See the section above for more information on the honors program.

POLI 395 Mentored Research in Political Science provides an opportunity for students to pursue a special research interest under the direction of a faculty member of the Department of Political Science. The research and writing entailed in a mentored research course must be equivalent to the workload of a regular course. For specific information about the procedures and requirements for POLI 395, please consult the department’s website.

Undergraduate Awards

Pi Sigma Alpha is the national political science honorary society. Membership is restricted to those political science majors who have completed 15 hours of political science with an overall grade average of 3.3 or better and a political science grade average of 3.5 or better.

The Thad L. Beyle Research Award is given to undergraduate political science majors, with priority given to students writing a senior honors thesis.

The William Scott Bryant Award funds research and travel for undergraduate majors in the Department of Political Science, with priority given to seniors.

The D’Amico Endowment Fund for Honors Students funds academic research and activities for honors students in the Department of Political Science.

The Shepard Jones Undergraduate Award in International Relations is given to an undergraduate student for the best essay in international relations (any field and broadly defined).

The L. Richardson Preyer Award for Excellence in Political Science is given to a senior judged by a committee of the faculty to have the most distinguished record of scholarship in political science and service to the community.

The Terry Sanford Award for Excellence is given to the undergraduate student judged to have written the best political science honors thesis.

Department of Political Science

Visit Program Website

361 Hamilton Hall, CB# 3265

(919) 962-3041

Chair

Mark Crescenzi

Undergraduate Advisor

Matthew Weidenfeld

mweiden@email.unc.edu

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Chris Clark

chriclar@email.unc.edu

Undergraduate Coordinator

Millie Tan

millie.tan@unc.edu