Undergraduate Program

Major Requirements

Political Science majors must fulfill the following requirements:

  • ALL courses must be taken as a graded course. Courses taken as Pass/Fail will not count towards the PS major.
  • Ten Courses in Political Science. All Tufts University Political Science majors will be required to take eight of the ten political science courses in the Tufts University Department of Political Science. All of the other requirements of the major—the two foundation courses, the course in each of the four major subfields, the methodologically-focused course, and the advanced seminar—must also be fulfilled in the Tufts University Department of Political Science. Cross-listed courses sponsored by another department are considered courses taken within the department. Note: Foundational courses will not count towards a major concentration requirement if taken abroad.
  • Two Foundational or Category I Courses. All PS majors are required to take two Foundational or Category I courses that introduce students to key concepts in Political Science. The following courses fulfill the foundational requirement:

    PS 11: Introduction to American Politics
    PS 21: Introduction to Comparative Politics
    PS 41: Western Political Thought I
    PS 42: Western Political Thought II
    PS 61: Introduction to International Relations
  • One Course in Each of the Four Major Subfields. To ensure that students are exposed to the different areas of the discipline, they must take at least one course (Category I or Category II) in each of the four subfields that serve as the cornerstones of the political science discipline. The catalogue is organized around these four subfields.

    The courses that may satisfy this requirement are as follows:
    American Politics and Government 10 to 19, 100-119 and 190-197 *
    Comparative Politics and Government 20 to 39, 120-139, and 176 **
    Political Theory and Philosophy 41, 42, and 140-159 ***
    International Relations 60-69, 125, 142, and 160-189 **

    Foundation level courses count toward fulfilling the subfield requirement. For example, if a student takes PS 11, Introduction to American Politics, they have fulfilled the subfield requirement in American Politics and Government.

    * As of spring 2013, PS 103 will no longer count towards an American Politics subfield credit.

    ** PS 125 and PS 176 may be used to fulfill either the Comparative Politics and Government subfield requirement or the International Relations subfield requirement, but not both.

    *** Students who declared the PS major prior to the 2014-2015 academic year may fulfill the Political Theory and Philosophy subfield requirement through PS 41, 42, or 140 through 159. All students who declare a PS major in the 2014-2015 academic year and beyond must fulfill the Political Theory requirement through PS 41 or PS 42.
  • One Methodologically-Focused Course. Political Science is more than just a group of courses relating to government and politics. Political Science is a discipline that is built around research principles which guide inquiry into the political process. To understand how political scientists acquire knowledge, students must understand the methods and logic of social science inquiry. How do we know that one interpretation of events or trends is more valid than another? The way questions are framed and the manner in which data are gathered affect the results of research.

    The Department has designated a set of courses as "methodologically-focused." Each student must take at least one such course to complete the major. These courses are not primarily about methodology. Rather, methodological concerns are integrated into the regular course material on a substantive topic in political science. In addition, a segment of the course may be centered on methodological approaches and one or more of the readings will emphasize research methods. We strongly recommend that students take their methodologically-focused course in their sophomore year. These courses are designed to help students understand the broader major and not just the single course which fulfills the requirement. Although students are only required to take one of these classes, they are encouraged to take additional methodologically-focused courses which fall into their area of interest. Methodologically-focused courses may also fulfill the departmental subfield or foundation requirement.

    The following courses have fulfilled the methodology requirement in the past. Please check the Department's course offerings each semester to be sure that it continues to fulfill the methodology requirement.

    PS 12 Sophomore Seminar: Acquiring Political Knowledge
    PS 14 Sophomore Seminar: Political Behavior of Young People
    PS 15 Sophomore Seminar: Politics & The City
    PS 23 Sophomore Seminar: Political Economy of Latin America
    PS 103: Political Science Research Methods
    PS 104: Seminar: New Media, New Politics
    PS 107: Political Participation and Mass Behavior in the US
    PS 108: Public Opinion and U.S. Democracy
    PS 111: Political Psychology
    PS 115: Public Opinion and Survey Research
    PS 117: Politics in the American South
    PS 124 Seminar: Comparative Political Economy of Advanced Industrial Democracies
    PS 130 Seminar: African Political Economy
    PS 135: Comparative Revolutions
    PS 160: Force, Strategy and Arms Control
    PS 166: Seminar: Causes of Modern War
    PS 174: The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers
    PS 181: Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
    PS 184: Seminar: Better Than The Truth: Extrafactual Information in International Politics
    PS 188-09: Conducting Research in International Politics
    PS 195: Seminar: Politics of Sustainable Communities
    PS 198, 199: Senior Thesis

    Additional courses may be designated as methodologically focused and will be listed in the department's course offerings booklet published each semester prior to preregistration.
  • One Advanced Seminar. All majors must complete an advanced seminar during either their junior or senior year. Generally students will have taken at least one course in the broad subfield under which the seminar falls. Some seminars have one or more prerequisites. Prerequisites are listed in the catalogue descriptions of the course. Seminars must be taken within the department and be taught by Political Science faculty. Seminars taken in Tufts Abroad programs do not fulfill this requirement.

    Just because a course is small does not mean that it is a seminar. A "seminar" should have that term in the course title, utilize a seminar format (i.e., one extended session a week, enrollment limited to about 15 students), and include a substantial research paper. If you are unsure, please check with the professor teaching the course. Sophomore seminars do not fulfill the advanced seminar requirement. Both semesters of the Senior Honors Thesis count as seminar credits. The Department typically offers about seven or eight advanced seminars each semester and they are limited to fifteen students each.

    The following courses have fulfilled the advanced seminar requirement in the past. Please check the Department's course offerings each semester to be sure that it continues to fulfill the seminar requirement and for additional courses that may be listed as a seminar.

    PS 100: Seminar: Politics of U.S. Immigration Policy
    PS 104: Seminar: Seminar On New Media, New Politics
    PS 109: Seminar: Political Ethnicity And American Identity
    PS 113: Seminar: Nonprofits And Civil Society
    PS 114: Seminar: Political Representation In The US
    PS 119: Seminar In American Politics
    PS 120: Seminar: Power And Politics In China
    PS 121: Seminar: Political Culture In Comparative Perspective
    PS 124: Seminar: Comparative Political Economy Of Advanced Industrial Democracies
    PS 130: Seminar: African Political Economy
    PS 132: Seminar: Comparative Politics Of Post-communism
    PS 139: Seminar In Comparative Politics
    PS 145: Seminar: The Political Thought Of Machiavelli
    PS 147: Seminar: The Political Philosophy Of Nietzsche
    PS 148: Seminar: The Political Philosophy Of Nietzsche
    PS 151: Seminar: The Political Philosophy Of Hobbes
    PS 152: Seminar: Plato's Republic
    PS 153: Seminar: Political Theory Method
    PS 156: Seminar: Enlightenment Political Thought
    PS 157: Seminar: Markets, Morals, and Religion: The Political Theory of David Hume and Adam Smith
    PS 159: Seminar In Political Thought
    PS 163: Seminar: Ethnicity And American Foreign Policy
    PS 166: Seminar: Causes Of Modern War
    PS 171: Seminar: Rethinking The Cold War
    PS 178: Seminar: Foreign Policy-making In The Arab World
    PS 184: Seminar: Better Than the Truth – Fabricated and False Facts in International Politics
    PS 189: Seminar In International Relations
    PS 193: Seminar: Health Policy For Aging Populations
    PS 195: Seminar: Politics Of Sustainable Communities
    PS 197, 198: Senior Honors Thesis

    Additional courses may be designated as advanced seminars and will be listed in the department's course offerings booklet published each semester prior to preregistration.