Undergraduate Major and Tracks


All political science majors are expected to have a broad understanding of politics and how political scientists study political actions, institutions, processes and events. All majors must complete four required courses (12 hours) and six elective courses (18 hours), for 30 hours total.

Required Courses

Additional Requirements for Major

Electives - 18 required credit hours (15 hours at 300 level or above)

Electives: The department typically offers about 10 upper-division courses each semester that students can pursue as electives. Most courses listed in the KU Catalog are offered each year, though some are offered every other year.

Electives may be drawn from across the political science curriculum with some limitations:

Majors can pursue general studies in the major or choose electives from a suggested track, as described below:

  1. Introduction to U.S. Politics (POLS 110 or 111), and either
  2. Introduction to Comparative Politics (POLS 150 or 151) or Introduction to International Politics (POLS 170 or 171)
  3. Introduction to Political Theory (POLS 301) or POLS308, POLS501, POLS612, POLS630, POLS640, POLS644, POLS674, POLS680 or POLS686
  4. Political Science Methods of Inquiry (POLS 306) and
    1. Students must take elective courses from at least two (out of five) subfields
      1. Field I- Political Philosophy and Empirical Theory
      2. Field II- U.S. Political Institutions and Processes
      3. Field III- Public Policy and Public Administration
      4. Filed IV- Foreign Governments and Comparative Politics
      5. Field V- International Relations
    2. A student may count a total of no more than 6 hours toward the major from the following courses (internships and fieldwork):
      POLS 492: Field Work in Politics and Policy-making
      POLS 493: Directed Readings (no more than three hours)
      POLS 494/495: Washington/Topeka Semester Intern Seminar
      POLS 496/497: Washington/Topeka Semester Fieldwork
      POLS 498: Honors Thesis

    Majors can pursue general studies in the major or choose electives from a suggested track, as described below

    General studies

    Students may complete their major without having any particular emphasis and instead choose freely among a wide variety of courses in various subfields. Students interested in business or teaching, those wanting to pursue graduate studies in political science, and those simply wanting to have an opportunity to pursue a wide variety of interests may choose this option.

    Suggested Tracks (which include courses across several subfields)

     

    A track in Electoral Politics

    Students wanting to enter politics, journalism, campaign management and polling, and electoral politics are encouraged to fulfill their upper-division electives by choosing among the following courses in the indicated subfields or areas of focus.

    • Political Theory (Field I)
      • POLS 603: Democratic Theory
    • American National Politics (Field II)
      • POLS 515: American Political Parties
      • POLS 516: Public Opinion and American Democracy
      • POLS 615: Campaigns and Elections
      • POLS 616: Interest Group Politics
      • POLS 617: The Congress
      • POLS 618: The Presidency
      • POLS 670: U.S. Foreign Policy
    • State and local politics (Field II)
      • POLS 613: Comparative U.S. State Politics
      • POLS 614: Urban Politics
    • Comparative politics (Field IV)
      • POLS 564: Elections and Political Parties around the World
      • Analytical skills and applications (Fields I, II, or III)
      • POLS 520: Political Communication
      • POLS 521: Rhetoric, Politics and the Mass Media
      • POLS 620: Formulation of Public Policy
      • POLS 626: Political Polling and Survey Research
    • Identity Politics (Fields II, IV or V)
      • POLS 630: Politics of Identity
      • POLS 512: Latino Politics
      • POLS 562: Women and Politics
      • POLS 612: Psychology in Politics
    • Internships
      • POLS 494: Washington Semester Intern Seminar
      • POLS 495: Topeka Semester Intern Seminar
      • POLS 496: Washington Semester Field Work (3-6)
      • POLS 497: Topeka Semester Field Work (3-6)

    A track in Pre-law

    Students who want to enter law school, prepare for paralegal careers, or seek careers in intelligence or law enforcement are encouraged to select electives from the following options:

    • Constitutional law and judicial processes (Fields I or V)
      • POLS 610: Constitutional Law: Governmental Powers
      • POLS 611: Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties
      • POLS 684: International Law: The State and the Individual
      • POLS 685: International Law: Laws of Armed Conflicts
      • POLS 713: Law & Society
      • POLS 774: International Law
    • Other courses focusing on justice (Fields I, III, IV, or V)
      • POLS 501: Contemporary Political Thought (theories of justice)
      • POLS 528: Environmental Justice and Public Policy (EVRN 528)
      • POLS 644: Justice and Public Policy in Democratic Society
      • POLS 686: International Human Rights

    Students wanting to pursue particular areas with the field of law may also wish to take courses in such other areas as public policy and identity politics (as listed below).

    A track in Public Policy (Fields II, III, IV, or V)

    Students interested in administrative and policy analysis positions with local, state or federal governments or with public agencies, universities or volunteer organizations (such as labor unions, farm organizations, chambers of commerce, and civil rights groups) are encouraged to select electives from the following:

     

    • POLS 320: Introduction to Public Policy
    • POLS 330: Introduction to Public Administration
    • POLS 528: Environmental Justice and Public Policy (EVRN 528)
    • POLS 553: Comparative Environmental Politics
    • POLS 563: Comparative Political Economy
    • POLS 566: Social Welfare, Taxation, and the Citizen
    • POLS 614: Urban Politics
    • POLS 620: Formulation of Public Policy
    • POLS 621: Public Policy Analysis
    • POLS 622: Government and the Economy
    • POLS 623: The Politics of Social Policy
    • POLS 624: Environmental Politics and Policy (EVRN 620)
    • POLS 625: Extremist Groups and Government Response
    • POLS 628: The Politics of Public Health
    • POLS 630: Politics of Identity
    • POLS 634: Bureaucratic Politics
    • POLS 640: Politics of Reproductive Policy
    • POLS 644: Justice and Public Policy in Democratic Societies
    • POLS 670: U.S. Foreign Policy
    • POLS 672: International Political Economy
    • POLS 673: International Organizations
    • POLS 675: Russian Foreign Policy
    • POLS 677: U.S. National Security Policy
    • POLS 629: Topics in Public Policy: _________ (1-3)

     

    Many students with interests in public policy and administration have found internships in Washington DC and Topeka (offered during the spring semester) to be interesting and helpful.

    A track in World Politics

    Students who want a career in international affairs in the public, private, and non-profit spheres can choose among a wide variety of upper-division courses that provide in-depth examination of particular regions of the world, that provide broader crossnational comparisons of political processes, and that examine such aspects of international relations as US Foreign Policy, international conflict and cooperation, and international economics. Useful courses include:

    • Particular regions of the world (area studies) (Field IV or V):
      • POLS 658: Theories and Politics in Latin America
      • POLS 659: Political Dynamics of Latin America
      • POLS 665: Politics in Africa
      • POLS 561: Liberation in Southern Africa
      • POLS 565: Political Change in Asia
      • POLS 656: Governments and Politics of East Asia
      • POLS 657: Government and Politics of Southeast Asia
      • POLS 666: Political Economy of East Asia
      • POLS 668: Reform in Contemporary China
      • POLS 676: International Relations of Asia
      • POLS 678: Chinese Foreign Policy
      • POLS 661: Politics of the Middle East
      • POLS 650: Palestinians and Israelis
      • POLS 667: Islam and Politics
      • POLS 652: Politics in Europe
      • POLS 655: Politics of East-Central Europe
      • POLS 654: Politics and Government of Russia and the Central Eurasian States
      • POLS 675: Russian Foreign Policy
    • Cross-National analyses (Fields I, IV or V)
      • POLS 612: Psychology in Politics
      • POLS 562: Women and Politics
      • POLS 600: Contemporary Feminist Political Theory
      • POLS 553: Comparative Environmental Politics
      • POLS 563: Comparative Political Economy
      • POLS 644: Justice and Public Policy in Democratic Societies
      • POLS 653: Gender, War, and Peace
      • POLS 660: The Politics and Problems of Developing Countries
      • POLS 669: Topics in Comparative Politics:___ (2-3)
    • International politics (Field V)
      • POLS 670: United States Foreign Policy
      • POLS 671: International Cooperation
      • POLS 672: International Political Economy
      • POLS 673: International Organization
      • POLS 674: International Ethics
      • POLS 675: Russian Foreign Policy
      • POLS 677: U.S. National Security Policy
      • POLS 678: Chinese Foreign Policy
      • POLS 679: International Conflict
      • POLS 680: International Relations in Political Philosophy
      • POLS 681: Comparative Foreign Policy
      • POLS 684: International Law: The State and the Individual
      • POLS 685: International Law: Laws of Armed Conflicts
      • POLS 686: International Human Rights
      • POLS 689: Topics in International Relations:_____ (2-3)