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This archived information is dated to the 2011-12 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

To receive a B.A. in Political Science, a student must:

  1. Submit a Political Science major proposal to the undergraduate administrator and declare on Axess. Forms are available in Encina Hall West, room 100, or at For additional information, come to the office or phone (650) 723-1608. Students must complete their major declaration no later than the end of Autumn Quarter of their junior year.
  2. Complete 70 units including:
    1. 45 Political Science course units in the primary and secondary concentration combined. Each major should declare a primary concentration in one subfield and take at least 30 units in this concentration, including the introductory course for that subfield. The secondary concentration must be completed with at least 15 units, including the introductory course for that subfield. Subfields include:
      • International Relations (1, 110-119, 210-219, 310-319)
      • American Politics (2, 120-129, 220-229, 320-329)
      • Political Theory (3, 130-139, 230-239, 330-339)
      • Comparative Politics (4, 140-149, 240-249, 340-349)
      • Methodology (150-159, 350-359)
    2. A 5-unit methods requirement satisfied by STATS 60, ECON 102A, POLISCI 150A, 150B, 150C, 151A, or 151B.
    3. 20 additional Political Science units including no more than 5 units of directed reading. 10 units of ECON 1A and/or ECON 1B may substitute for two 5-unit POLISCI courses.
    4. No more than two 5-unit Stanford Introductory Seminar courses can be applied toward the 70-unit major requirement.
  3. Introductory Courses: each student must take two from the following Political Science courses, one of which must be in the primary concentration, the other in the secondary concentration. These courses should be completed by the end of sophomore year.
    • POLISCI 1. Introduction to International Relations
    • POLISCI 2. Introduction to American National Government and Politics
    • POLISCI 3. Introduction to Political Philosophy
      • or POLISCI 3P. Justice
    • POLISCI 4. Introduction to Comparing Political Systems
    • POLISCI 151A. Doing Political Science
      • or POLISCI 151B. Data Analysis for Political Science
  4. Demonstrate the capacity for sustained research and writing in the discipline. This requirement is satisfied by taking a Political Science course designated as a Writing in the Major (WIM) course and may be in any subfield of the major.
  5. Take at least one 5-unit, 200 or 300-level undergraduate seminar in Political Science.
  6. Students may petition a maximum of ten units towards the major. Transfer students are allowed to petition up to twenty units towards the major. A maximum of 15 units may be applied towards the concentrations and 5 towards other Political Science course units. All Stanford-in-Washington courses and transfer credit from outside of Stanford require petitions which must be reviewed and approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Petitions must be submitted within one quarter of course completion, or within one quarter of declaring the major. Cognate courses do not require a petition.
  7. Directed reading and Oxford tutorial units also require a petition and may only be applied towards related course work units. These units may not be used in the concentrations, and no more than 10 combined units of directed reading and Oxford tutorial units may count toward the required 70 Political Science units.
  8. All courses for the major must be completed with a letter grade of 'C' or better.



2011-12 is the first year of a research-based track within the undergraduate major. The track will lead to a B.A.H. (Bachelor of Arts with Honors) in Political Science and replaces the existing honors program described below. The five-year pilot program is designed to provide its students with the analytical tools they need to write honors theses and collaborate with Stanford faculty and Ph.D. students. Professor Stephen Haber is the 2011-12 program director.

To receive a B.A.H. in Political Science students must apply and be accepted to the research honors track. Students must apply to the program in the Spring Quarter of the sophomore year or Autumn Quarter of the junior year. A complete application includes a transcript; a letter of recommendation from a member of the Stanford Political Science faculty or from a teaching assistant in a Political Science course; and an essay outlining the student's interest in the research honors track.

To fulfill the research honors track major requirements, a student must:

  1. Complete 70 units
    1. All courses taken for the research honors track must receive a letter grade of 'C' or better. Junior research honors track courses (see 2d) must receive a 'B' or better to count toward the major. Students unable to meet these requirements may be removed from the track.
    2. 10 units of introductory course work in Political Science. Students must complete at least two of the following courses, preferably by the end of Spring Quarter of sophomore year: POLISCI 1, POLISCI 2, POLISCI 3 or POLISCI 3P, or POLISCI 4. It is recommended that research honors track students enroll in one of the discussion sections designed for students interested in research.
    3. 10 units of a math/statistics sequence. This can be completed by taking one of the following sequences
      • STATS 60 and 191
      • STATS 116 and 200
      • POLISCI 150A and 150B
      • ECON 102A and 102B.

      Students are encouraged to complete a calculus sequence, either by taking MATH 51, MATH 40 and 41, or MATH 19, 20, and 21.

    4. Three courses designed for the research honors track, to be taken during junior year:
      • POLISCI 291. Political Institutions
      • POLISCI 292. Political Behavior
      • POLISCI 293. Research Design

      Students must earn a minimum grade of 'B' in these three classes. To accommodate students studying at overseas campuses during their junior year, these courses are offered during the winter and spring quarters. (With two exceptions, most overseas programs are offered during Autumn Quarter.)

    5. Two 300-level or 400-level graduate elective courses during senior year.
    6. Three 100-level or 200-level Stanford POLISCI courses that must be approved by the student's adviser.
    7. A Political Science Writing in the Major (WIM) course.
    8. 10 units of honors thesis work.
  2. Complete at least one intensive summer research experience. After sophomore year, students have special access to the Department of Political Science Summer Research College (SRC). After junior year, students may choose to spend the summer advancing their own research project under faculty direction, with funding from the VPUE. Independent summer research may include traveling to archives or libraries, conducting surveys or interviews, or working with Stanford research teams off-campus.
  3. Students may petition a maximum of 10 units to count for the major. Transfer students are allowed to petition a maximum of 20 units. All petitions and transfer courses require approval from the research honors track director.

HONORS PROGRAM (2011-12 Only)

Students interested in earning a B.A.H. in Political Science must apply to the research honors track program described above. The department's previously existing honors program is suspended for five years, and the requirements listed here apply only to seniors accepted into the program as juniors in 2010-11.

Students pursuing honors must complete the following by the end of Spring Quarter of their junior year:

  1. Methods requirement (STATS 60, ECON 102A, POLISCI 150A,B,C, 151A, or 151B)
  2. WIM requirement
  3. Research paper from an advanced undergraduate seminar or directed reading

Students who are accepted into the program should plan to make the thesis the focus of their senior year. They should enroll in 10-15 units of POLISCI 299A,B,C, which covers research and writing directed by the student's adviser.

To complete the honors program, students must:

  1. Complete all requirements for the major.
  2. Enroll in POLISCI 299Q during Spring Quarter of the student's junior year. This course is designed to help students understand the research process and map out a concrete time line for their thesis work. Enroll in at least 10 units of POLISCI 299A, B, or C, Senior Project. Students must take at least two quarters of Senior Project units.
  3. Complete a thesis of honors quality, for a grade of 'B+' or better.

Students cannot apply units from the POLISCI 299Q, Junior Research Seminar, toward the 70-unit requirement for the major. However, students can apply up to 10 units from POLISCI 299A,B,C, Senior Project, toward the 70-unit requirement.

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