Major Requirements

Jump to...


Please note:

POLS pre-majors are limited to four upper division POLS courses prior to becoming eliglble to advance to full POLS major standing.   Students who fail to complete (and meet)  the lower division pre-major requirements and GPA threshold after completing and/or registering for four or more upper division POLS courses will be blocked from registration in, and possibly dropped from, additional upper division POLS courses.  We also reserve the right to block students from upper division POLS courses when it appears that they are at significant risk of not meeting our GPA threshold, or have failed it - regardless of how many upper division POLS courses they have either registered for or completed.

Email advising@polsci.ucsb.edu to submit forms or ask any questions!


Students admitted to UCSB as freshman or transfer students are admitted as Political Science pre-majors.   Students admitted to other majors seeking to change their major to Political Science, or who wish to add Political Science as an additional major must submit a Change of Major form.  Acceptance as a pre-major does not guarantee admittance to the full major.  Please see below for instructions on how to declare the full major.  FRESHMEN CANNOT CHANGE INTO OUR MAJOR UNTIL THEY'VE BEEN AT UCSB FOR TWO QUARTERS.

  

Consult with a POLS advisor.   After the consultation, complete a Change of Major petition. Fill out this form, and return it to the POLS Advising Office in 3838 Ellison Hall (or via email to Advising@polsci.ucsb.edu). The Department's Advisors will review the form and obtain the Chair's or Undergraduate Program Coordinator's signature on your behalf. Double majors must also submit a Memo of Understanding.     

Admission to the pre-major does not guarantee admission to the full major.     PLEASE NOTE THAT IT CAN TAKE UP TO A MONTH OR MORE FROM THE TIME YOU SUBMIT A CHANGE OF MAJOR FORM TO OUR OFFICE FOR YOUR STATUS TO CHANGE IN THE SYSTEM, AND ALLOWING YOU PASS 1 ACCESS TO POLS CLASSES.  We do not mitigate this delay by issuing add codes.                                                                                                                                                                                    

Transfer Students: Transfer students who have officially declared Political Science with the UCSB Office of Admissions are admitted as Political Science pre-majorsThis does not guarantee admittance to the full major.  Please see below for instructions on how to declare the full major.

Transfer Orientation YouTube video --  Please view this video for helpful information on the path forward for students joining our major.


  • In order to declare the full Political Science major, students must complete the following lower division Political Science courses with a cumulative 2.6 GPA average in those courses – which is non-negotiable.  Courses must be taken for a letter grade and cannot be satisfied by work-in-progress.
  • PS 1 Introduction to Political Philosophy
  • PS 6 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • PS 7 Introduction to International Relations
  • PS 12 American Government and Politics
  • PS 15 Introduction to Research in Political Science.  

Only courses taken at UCSB (or another UC school) will be calculated into the GPA requirement

  • Courses can be taken at other colleges or university, but if not taken at a UC campus, only course credit will transfer, and any grades earned will not be calculated in the cumulative GPA required to advance.   [Please note that this path will reduce the number of UC GPA units available to meet the GPA threshold.]
  • AP Government, with a score of 3 or higher, satisfies the POLS 12 (Intro to American Government) requirement.
  • Economics 1 (Principles of Economics-Micro) and Economics 2 (Principles of Economics-Macro) OR Economics 9 (Introduction to Economics) are required and must be taken for a letter grade.  Students may petition Advanced Placement Micro and Macro courses if they've earned a score of 3 or higher.  Economics courses are not factored into the required 2.6 GPA for lower division political science courses.  However, they will be calculated into the overall major GPA.  
  •  Complete a Change of Major Petition. Fill out this form and return it to the POLS Advising Office in 3838 Ellison Hall (or via email to Advising@polsci.ucsb.edu). The Department's Advisors will review the form and obtain the Chair's or Undergraduate Program Coordinators' signature on your behalf.  Double majors must also submit a Memo of Understanding.
  • Students must wait until they've been enrolled at UCSB for two quarters prior to changing into the full POLS major directly from another major, or additing POLS as a 2nd major.

Students do not have to complete lower division requirements before enrolling in upper division courses.  Those with upper division standing may simultaneously enroll in lower division and upper division political science courses.  Majors in political science are required to complete 40 upper division units distributed over a minimum of three subfields.  All courses must be taken for a letter grade.  Please see this page of our website for a list of our courses by their default subfields (and how to reallocate them if possible).

 

   A. CONCENTRATION: 5 courses, each worth at least 4 units (20 units) must be completed in one concentration area.   (Majors are limited to a maximum of 6 courses in the core concentration.)  Please note that there is no formal declaration needed for a concentration, and nothing will be indicated on your UCSB transcript that you completed one.

       Choose ONE of the four subfields below:

      - American Politics

      - Comparative Politics

      - International Relations

      - Political Theory

   B. SECOND SUBFIELD (Breadth): 1 course (4 units) chosen from  a second subfield

   C. THIRD SUBFIELD (Breadth): 1 course (4 units) choses from a third subfield

   D. ELECTIVES: 3 elective courses (12 units) from any of the four POLS subfields.  Courses on a students' record beyond that which satisfy the core concentration and breadth requirements are considered electives.  They can also be courses numbered POLS 106; 192; 197ABC; 199; 199RA.  Any units in any area beyond that which satisfy a requirement are automatically considered upper division major electives.

 


Courses taken in other departments and from other universities may be petitioned for credit toward some of the requirements of the major.

  • ALL Political Science courses fall into one or more subfields (International Relations, Comparative Politics, Political Theory, or American Politics) or as an upper division POLS elective.  The system (GOLD) will place the course into one of these fields once a student enrolls in the class.  In some cases students can reallocate a course into another subfield via petition.  To learn which subfield a course fails into, please refer to this section of our website  "Courses by Subfield."   To reallocate a course to a different subfield, please submit a course petition to POLS AdvisingAll POLS forms can be found on our website page "Forms and Petitions"   No syllabus is necessary when submitting a POLS course for reallocation.
  • The Department will accept up to two upper division courses (courses numbered 100 or higher) from outside the POLS major (from another major or discipline) upon review of the course's syllabus (a total of two courses and eight units).   This limitation also applies to double majors who are allowed up to two courses common to both majors.  Double majors should be aware that the total allowed is 8 units or two courses - and not 16 units and four courses.  Courses from UCDC and UC Sacramento count as POLS courses for the purposes of this policy, as do EAP courses coded as POL SEAP, and so do not count against the limit. [ONLY full POLS majors may petition upper division courses toward POLS upper division degree requirements.]
  • POLS/ ENV S double majors are only allowed to share two crosslisted POLS/ENV S courses (POLS 175/ENV S 178; POLS 176/ENV S 176; POLS 177/ENV S ENV S 177).   Should a student take all three of these courses, only one will be allowed toward either their POLS or ENV S upper division requirements, but will be applied to overall UCSB degree requirements.
  • EAP (Education Abroad Program) courses must be coded POL SEAP, or cross-listed with POLS in the EAP Catalog, in order to be applied to upper division POLS requirements, and can only be applied after a student earns a letter grade and has become eligible to advance to full POLS major standing. Students must supply both course numbers when submitting petitions for this credit to the POLS Advising Office.
  • All petitions are reviewed by the Undergraduate Program Coordinator and forwarded to the College of Letters and Science for final approval.  Approval by the College can take up to six weeks before any change is reflected on a student's record.  Please see the "Courses" page of our website for a list of POLS courses by subfield.
  • Please include a syllabus when petitioning a course from an another major's department or from anotther university (either a Political Science or other non-major course).  Course Petitions may be submitted in person to 3838 Ellison Hall or via email to advising@polsci.ucsb.edu.  
  • Please see the lists below for possible courses which might be accepted for POLS degree credit: 

Current Academic Year (Fall 2024)

Ay 2023-2024

AY 2022-2023

AY 2021-2022

AY 2020-2021


All Education Abroad courses must be petitioned for allocation to a student's POLS degree requirements. PLEASE wait until you can see the courses on your UCSB course history before submitting petitions.

  • Students should submit a course petition form and attach a course syllabus in English.  (We cannot provide translation services.)  We cannot accept course descriptions or non-English syllabi.
  • Classes with a POL SEAP designator (ex: POL SEAP101A) will be accepted and applied to the relevant sub field as demonstrated by course content in the accompanying syllabus.
  • Classes without a POL SEAP designator, but which a student believes was cross-listed, must indicate on the course petition both the course name visible on the student's transcript, as well as the EAP cross listing Political Science course number (ex. INTL EAP131I/POL SEAP 120) This information can be found on the EAP's website here: UC EAP Course Catalog
  • Education abroad courses with non-POL SEAP designations, and which are not cross-listed, may be accepted toward the Department's two-course limit for courses petitioned from outside of the major.

Independent Study: POLS 99, 199, and 199RA

Students who are interested in doing independent study or research, and who are eligible, can earn credit through work one-on-one with with Political Science faculty and researchers.  The Department offers three different programs, open to eligible Political Science students and students from other majors.  Please note that the POLS Advising Office does not match students with faculty or research projects.  

 

POLS 99 - Independent Study for Freshmen and Sophomores:

Lower division students interested in completing an independent study course and earn credit for POLS 99 must have:

  • Freshman or Sophmore status
  • a 3.0 GPA in the major and in all course work at UCSB cumulatively, and for the prior three quarters to their application for POLS 99 enrollment
  • A plan of study and project description developed in collaboration with a supervising instructor.
  • Approval from the instructor and the POLS Undergraduate Program Coordinator.

After obtaining instructor approval, students must submit an Independent Study Petition for POLS 99 to the POLS Advising Office in 3838 Ellison Hall, or via email to Advising@polsci.ucsb.edu.  Upon approval by the Undergradute Program Coordinator, the department will provide an add code for enrollment, usually via email.  Students are limited to 5 units per quarter, with no more than 8 units applied toward the major.  Petitions must be received by Wednesday of Week 2 for fall, winter, or spring quarter.  After this date, students risk increased enrollment fees.

 

POLS 199 - Independent Study for Juniors and Seniors:

Junior and Senior students interested in completing an independent study or research course and earn credit for POLS 199 or must have:

  • Junior or Senior status
  • a 3.0 GPA in their major and UCSB cumulatively, and in coursework for the last three quarters.
  • Development of a plan of study and project description in collaboration with a supervising instructor.
  • Approval from the instructor and the Undergraduate Program Coordinator.

After obtaining instructor approval, students must submit an Independent Study Petition for PS 199 to the POLS Advising Office in 3838 Ellison Hall, or via email to Advising@polsci.ucsb.edu.  Upon approval by the Undergradute Program Coordinator, the department will provide an add code for enrollment, usually via email.  Students are limited to 5 units per quarter, with no more than 8 units applied toward the major.  Petitions should be received by Wednesday of Week 2 for fall, winter, or spring quarter.  After this date, students risk increased enrollment fees.

 

POLS 199RA - Independent Research Assistance for Juniors and Seniors:

Junior and Senior students interested in assisting a POLS faculty member or researcher in an ongoing research project, and earn credit for POLS 199RA or must have:

  • Junior or Senior status
  • 3.0 GPA in their major and UCSB cumulatively, and in coursework for the last three quarters.
  • Development of a plan of study and project description in collaboration with a supervising instructor.
  • Approval from the instructor and the Undergraduate Program Coordinator.

After obtaining instructor approval, students must submit an Independent Research Assistance Petition for PS199RA to the POLS Advising Office in 3838 Ellison Hall, or via email to Advising@polsci.ucsb.edu.  Upon approval by the Undergradute Program Coordinator, the department will provide an add code for enrollment, usually via email.  Students are limited to 5 units per quarter, with no more than 8 units applied toward the major.  Petitions should be received by Wednesday of Week 2 for fall, winter, or spring quarter.  After this date, students risk increased enrollment fees.



The Department of Political Science encourages students to pursue internships that connect academic knowledge to career-related work experiences. Internships give students the opportunity to try out a career area in a non-profit organization, government office, or for-profit business. Interns build professional networks in a selected field of interest while improving job seeking and decision-making skills, and cultivating future career options. The Political Science Internship Program is designed for students who wish to receive academic credit while interning. Students may intern during the fall, winter, spring, or summer. Do I HAVE to receive credit? Can I just do an internship for experience? YES, YES, YES! Most students doing an internship just do it for the experience. ***Special Program for students who can't/don't receive academic credit for an internship: Provide a letter from your internship supervisor confirming completion of an internship (including the length and average hours per week) - on the organization's letterhead - to the POLS Advising Office (Advising@polsci.ucsb.edu) and receive a UCSB Political Science t-shirt. Do I qualify for academic credit? [YOU MUST BE ENROLLED IN CLASSES IN ORDER TO RECEIVE CREDIT] Political Science students interested in applying for internship credit must have:

  • junior or senior standing

  • a minimum 3.0 GPA overall and in the major

  • Pre-Political Science or Political Science major status

How do I receive academic credit?
To receive academic credit interns must:
  • submit an application to an organization whose mission complements the study of political science

  • submit an application with the Department by the end of the 2nd week of the quarter.


Pass/No Pass Policy

UCSB does not allow students to apply PASS grades to any of a student's major's requirements, with the following exceptions:

  1. Students eligible for internship credit, either via UCEAP, UC Center Sacramento, UCDC, or via a POLS 192 internship application may apply up to 4 units to their upper division POLS degree requirements, and only toward the Area D, POLS upper division elective area.  Any units earned beyond the four allowed are automatically applied to a student's overall UCSB degree requirements, and will not show up on the student's POLS degree progress check.

  2. Spring 2020 Covid Policy Variance:  Students who took POLS lower division courses in Spring quarter 2020 - POLS 1, 6, 7 or 15 - and opted for P/NP under the Covide policy variance (which allowed opting for P/NP that one quarter) are advised that taking these courses for P/NP credit can have implications for the GPA calculations used in either petitioning to advance to the full POLS major.  Pass credit will indicate satisfaction of a lower division requirement ONLY and will reduce the number of available units a student has in order to achieve the GPA threshold requirement of a 2.6 GPA in the classes taken at UCSB or another UC campus.  In allowing students the opportunity to exercise the P/NP option the POLS Department is not waiving our GPA threshold requirements of a GPA of 2.6 in the lower division prerequisites taken here or at another UC campus for students attempting to advance to the full POLS major.This policy applies to all Upper Division POLS courses.

 

Students can read about the University's P/NP policy on this page of the UCSB Catalog, section #2.