BA in Political Science

Program Requirements and Policies

  • Ten courses in Political Science and at least 30 Semester Hour Units (SHUs) are required to complete the BA in Political Science. 
  • All courses must be taken as a graded course. Courses taken as Pass/Fail will not count towards the PS major.
  • Eight of the ten political science courses must be taken in the Tufts 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 Department of Political Science. Cross-listed courses sponsored by another department are considered courses taken within the department.
  • Advanced Placement courses cannot count toward the 10 Political Science courses.
  • Foundational courses and Advanced Seminar courses will not count towards a major concentration requirement if taken abroad.
  • For the Methodologically-focused and Advanced Seminar courses, please check the department's course offerings booklet published each semester prior to preregistration to be sure that it continues to fulfill the requirements and for additional courses that may be listed. 
  • Majors and prospective majors are encouraged (though not required) to take one of the Sophomore Seminars offered each semester, which are open only to current sophomores. The work load and level of sophistication of these courses is roughly equivalent to upper division (100 level) courses. Sophomore seminars are strictly limited in class size to a maximum of fifteen students and are built around discussion rather than lectures. The small size gives students a chance to get to know one of their professors well, and allows professors to give each student's work closer attention and feedback than it might have received otherwise.

Course Requirements

  • Two of the following Foundational or Category I Courses:  
    • 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. Only courses with 3 or more SHUs can satisfy this requirement. The courses that may satisfy this requirement are as follows:
    American Politics and Government 10 to 19, 100-102, 104-119, and 190-197
    Comparative Politics and Government 21 to 39, 120-139, and 176*
    Political Theory and Philosophy 41 and 42
    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.

    * 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.

  • 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.

     Each student must take at least one such course that the department has designed as "methodologically focused" 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. 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. Only courses with 3 or more SHUs can satisfy this requirement. Methodologically-focused courses may also fulfill the departmental subfield or foundation requirement.

    The following courses have fulfilled the methodology requirement in the past.
    • PS 15 Sophomore Seminar: Politics & the City
    • PS 103: Political Science Research Methods
    • PS 104: Seminar: New Media, New Politics**
    • PS 108: Public Opinion and U.S. Democracy
    • PS 109: Seminar: The Politics of Ethnicity and American Identity**
    • PS 111: Political Psychology
    • PS 113: Seminar: Nonprofits and Civil Society**
    • 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 181: Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
    • PS 184: Seminar: Better Than the Truth**
    • PS 188-09: Conducting Research in International Politics
    • PS 195: Seminar: U.S. National Elections**
    • PS 198, 199: Senior Thesis
       
  • One Advanced Seminar. All majors must complete an advanced seminar during 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. 

    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. 
    • PS 104: Seminar: Seminar on New Media, New Politics**
    • PS 109: Seminar: The Politics of Ethnicity and American Identity**
    • PS 113: Seminar: Nonprofits and Civil Society**
    • 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 Montesquieu
    • PS 151: Seminar: The Political Philosophy of Hobbes
    • PS 152: Seminar: Plato's Republic
    • PS 159: Seminar in Political Thought
    • PS 166: Seminar: Causes of Modern War
    • PS 184: Seminar: Better Than the Truth**
    • PS 185: Seminar: Nuclear Weapons and International Politics
    • PS 189: Seminar In International Relations
    • PS 195: Seminar: U.S. National Elections**
    • PS 198, 199: Senior Honors Thesis

** PS courses listed as both Methodologically Focused and as an Advanced Seminar can count as both.

Download Major Checklist