Political Science Requirements

Courses in political science are structured on three levels: introductory (numbered below 200); upper-level intermediate (300-399); and advanced (400-499). Unless otherwise specified, courses above 400 may be counted toward the department’s seminar requirements. There are four introductory courses that assume no prior background in the discipline:

  1. PLSC 111 (Introduction to American Politics),
  2. PLSC 113 (Introduction to Comparative Politics),
  3. PLSC 115 (Introduction to Ideas and Politics) and
  4. PLSC 117 (Introduction to World Politics).

These serve as prerequisites for more advanced courses but may not be required of students who have equivalent prior coursework in political science or related disciplines, including Advanced Placement credit in American Government or Comparative Politics.

Major in Political Science

  • Major Requirements

    Requirements for the BA in political science include 10 courses in political science including not more than three introductory courses (PLSC 111, 113, 115, 117), not more than two 4-credit independent study courses, with at least 24 credits at the 300- or 400-level, and at least two 400-level seminars to be taken in residence at Binghamton University.

    Students must take at least one four-credit course in three of four subfields: American politics, political theory, comparative politics, and international relations. Courses acceptable for meeting the distribution requirements are identified as American, Theory, Comparative or International in the course descriptions that follow. With the approval of the student’s advisor, appropriate alternative courses may be used to satisfy the distribution requirements.

    The Political Science Department views the grade of D as passing but unsatisfactory. Courses passed with a grade of D do not fulfill requirements for the major or the related field requirement. Courses taken Pass/Fail do not count toward the major or fulfill the related field requirement.

    The major also requires complementary courses in other social sciences, the purpose of which is to expose students to a broad cross-section of social science research. Majors must complete four courses in at least three other social science departments (Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History or Sociology). Students should select those courses based on their curricular interests.

    All students must take at least six political science courses, including two 400-level seminars, in residence at Binghamton. Transfer course grades must be C– or better to count toward the major. No transfer course counting toward the major may have been taken Pass/Fail.

    Students of senior standing with appropriate political science background are allowed to take graduate-level courses with the instructor’s consent. Successful completion of such courses is counted toward the seminar requirement of the political science major. Majors are strongly encouraged to complete at least one substantial paper, based on their own investigation of a problem in an area of the political science discipline, either as part of a regular course, through independent study, or as an honors thesis (PLSC 498 and 499).

    Prior to pre-registration each semester, a political science major should consult with an advisor.

  • Curriculum

    The political science curriculum consists of the systematic study of the theory and practice of politics and government at various levels both domestic and international. Depending on the area studied, particular emphasis may be given to questions of a philosophical nature, to the role and performance of institutions and political systems, or to the political behavior of individuals and groups.

    Courses in political science are structured on four levels:

    • introductory (numbered below 200)
    • lower-level intermediate (200-299)
    • upper-level intermediate (300-399)
    • and advanced (400-499).

    Unless otherwise specified, courses above 400 can be counted toward the department's seminar requirements.

    There are six introductory courses (encompassing four fields) which assume no prior background in the discipline: PLSC 111 (American Politics), PLSC 112 (Cultural Forces in World Politics), PLSC 113 (Comparative Politics), PLSC115 (Political Theory), PLSC 117 (International Politics), and PLSC 210 (American Pluralism). These serve as prerequisites for other courses but may be skipped by students who have equivalent prior coursework in political science or related disciplines including advanced placement credit in American government or comparative politics.

  • Honors Program

    We have an honors program that requires students to complete an honors thesis. This kind of capstone project gives students the opportunity to pursue a question in political science that interests them, and adds an important component to their résumés.

    Political Science majors who earn a 3.5 overall GPA are considered for admission to the honors program upon the successful completion of five semesters or 80 credit hours (including at least 24 in political science). The program consists of a six-credit research project (PLSC 498 with a grade of B+ or better) in the first semester of the senior year, a six-credit thesis project (PLSC 499), and a successful defense of an honors thesis in the spring semester. One graduate seminar in either the fall or spring semester is encouraged, but not required. Students should consult with the departmental honors director or the director of undergraduate studies for full information.

  • Independent Study

    Our department encourages political science majors to pursue internship opportunities to develop their skills, investigate careers and apply classroom learning in a professional environment -- while earning academic credit.

    Independent study and internship courses are open only to juniors and seniors and, except for PLSC 394, require a substantial paper incorporating advanced political analysis. Students with internships should have junior standing, at least a 3.0 GPA, and taken at least three PLSC courses appropriate for the internship in question. No credit is given for internships as such; students must do specific academic work to earn internship credit. In addition, students contemplating internships or independent study projects must secure prior approval for the research and writing they plan to undertake. For internship requirements and eligibility, consult the guidelines available from the department secretary or director of internships.

  • Declaration/Change of Major

For more information on degree requirements please visit the University Bulletin.

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