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University of Pittsburgh    
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Feb 23, 2024
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Political Science, BA

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Major Requirements

The major requires the completion of 33 credits.

The political science department offers a large number of courses in four substantive fields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. Core courses provide a survey of each field and with the methods employed in the contemporary study of politics. The field courses, at 1000-level, provide students with advanced coursework in each of these areas of specialization. The combination of core and field courses provides students with a comprehensive overview of political science as a discipline while permitting students to concentrate in a particular field or fields.

Core Courses

Students take all five of the core courses, which provide first and second year students with a survey of each of these fields and with the methods employed in the contemporary study of politics.

  • PS 0200 American Political Process : An introduction to the institutions and political processes in the United States. The course surveys the presidency, Congress, and the judicial system as well as political behavior, public opinion, political attitudes, and the party system.
  • PS 0300 Comparative Politics : An introduction to political systems outside the United States. The course surveys a variety of theoretical approaches to the comparison of political systems and an examination of the political processes, institutions, and current political developments in a variety of political systems in all of the major regions of the world.
  • PS 0500 World Politics : An introduction to the study of foreign policy, covering the international political environment in which nation-states and other actors operate, as well as the specific policies adopted by particular states.
  • PS 0600 Political Theory and Analysis : An introduction to the history of Western political ideas, including the thought of Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Locke, Mill, and Marx.
  • PS 0700 Research Methods in Political Science : An introduction to the methods used in political science research, covering the logic of social scientific inquiry, the basics of research design, and the quantitative and qualitative methods that are commonly used by political scientists to investigate important questions about the political world.

Field Courses

At the 1000 level, students must take a total of six courses (18 credits), distributed across a major field (three courses), a minor field (two courses) and one course in an elective field. In the major field, one of the courses must be a capstone seminar.

In each of the four substantive undergraduate fields of political science, a wide variety of advanced (1000-level) courses is offered on a regular basis. Some courses are offered annually, while others are offered less frequently. For details on course offerings and content, see the Undergraduate Course Descriptions.

Capstone seminar

The University of Pittsburgh requires students to complete one writing-intensive course in their major. The Capstone Seminar, which is taken in the major field, fulfills the university-wide requirement of an intensive writing course (W-course) in the major and allows students to undertake advanced work under the direction of faculty in a smaller seminar setting.

Departmental honors requirements

Departmental honors are conferred upon students who maintain an overall GPA of 3.5 and achieve a GPA of 3.7 or better in political science.

Related area

A minimum of 12 credits is required in any one Arts and Sciences department chosen in consultation with the major advisor. The completion of an official Arts and Sciences minor or an Arts and Sciences or UCIS certificate also satisfies this requirement.

Grade requirements

A minimum GPA of 2.0 in departmental courses is required for graduation. In addition, a student must earn a grade of at least C- for a course to satisfy a PS requirement.

Satisfactory/No Credit option

No course to be counted toward the major can be taken on an S/NC basis.

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