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This archived information is dated to the 2010-11 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 an application for the Political Science major 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 and/or cognate course 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
    • 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 should be submitted within one quarter of course completion, or within one quarter of declaring the major.
  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. Cognate courses do not require a petition.
  8. All courses for the major must be completed with a letter grade of 'C' or better.



The honors program offers qualified students an opportunity to conduct independent research, write a thesis summarizing their findings, and make presentations of their work. During the process of research, analysis, and drafting, students work closely with a faculty adviser, a graduate student mentor, and their fellow students.

Applicants must have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.5, and an adviser who is a member of the Academic Council. Students interested in pursuing honors should submit a paper application to the undergraduate administrator in Encina Hall West, room 100, by the first Friday of Spring Quarter. Once students are accepted into the program, they will be asked to apply for honors in Political Science on Axess. Applications can be obtained from the department website and from Encina Hall West, room 100.

Students pursuing honors must complete the following by the end of Spring Quarter of their junior year: Methods requirement (STATS 60, ECON 102A, POLISCI 150A,B,C, 151A, or 151B), WIM requirement, and a completed research paper from an advanced undergraduate seminar or directed reading. Students are required to enroll in POLISCI 299Q: Junior Research Seminar, in Spring Quarter of their junior year. This course is designed to help students understand the research process and map out a concrete time line for their thesis work.

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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


There are several annual prizes for undergraduate students: the Arnaud B. Leavelle Memorial Prize for the best paper in the History of Political Thought sequence (POLISCI 130A,B,C), a cash prize for the best thesis written in political theory, the Lindsay Peters, Jr., Memorial Prize for the outstanding student each year in POLISCI 2, and Cottrell Prizes for outstanding students in POLISCI 1, 3, and 4.

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