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This archived information is dated to the 2008-09 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 in 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 POLISCI 150A, 150B, 150C, 151A, 151B, ECON 102A, or STATS 60. The list of courses satisfying the methods requirement is updated annually by the department. Students should consult the Bulletin for new courses that satisfy this requirement.
    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. 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 apply a maximum of 10 units from Stanford Summer Session or courses outside Stanford, including Stanford-in-Washington and Overseas Programs. Transfer students are allowed up to 20 units of transfer credit or Summer Session. 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 and may only be applied towards related course work units.

    Courses counting toward the 70-unit requirement must be taken for a letter grade, although units in excess of the required 70 may be taken on a credit/no credit basis. A minimum grade of 'C' is required for courses to count towards major requirements.


AFRICAST 107/207. Community Reconstruction and Development in Post- Apartheid South Africa

AFRICAST 111/211. Education for All? The Global and Local in Public Policy Making in Africa

AFRICAST 112/212. AIDS, Literacy, and Land: International Aid and the Problems of Development in Africa

EASTASN 189K/289K. Comparative Politics Perspective of the Two Koreas since 1945

ECON 1A,1B. Introductory Economics A,B

EDUC 260X. Understanding Statistical Models and their Social Science Applications (Same as HRP 239, STATS 209.)

ETHICSOC 181M. The Ethics of Risk

ETHICSOC 185M. Contemporary Moral Problems

HISTORY 150A. Colonial and Revolutionary America

HUMBIO 171. The Death Penalty: Human Biology, Law, and Policy

HUMBIO 172A/B. Children, Youth, and the Law

INTNLREL 140B. Theories of International Law

INTNLREL 206. Palestinian Nationalism, Past and Present

INTNLREL 207. Tribe, State, and Society in the Modern Middle East

IPS 206B. Organizations (Same as PUBLPOL 204B.)

IPS 243. The History, Science, Technology, and Politics of Missile Defense

MS&E 193/193W/293. Technology and National Security

OSPBEIJ 47. Institutional Change in Reform China

OSPBEIJ 66. Essentials of China's Criminal Justice System

OSPBER 115X. The German Economy: Past and Present

OSPBER 126X. A People's Union? Money, Markets, and Identity in the EU

OSPBER 15. Shifting Alliances? The European Union and the U.S.

OSPFLOR 106V. Italy: From Agrarian to Postindustrial Society

OSPFLOR 61. Europe and U.S. Foreign Policy

OSPFLOR 78. An Extraordinary Experiment: Politics and Policies of the New European Union

OSPFLOR 97. Human Rights, Justice and Terrorism: Is the World Community Prepared to Prevent a Catastrophe?

OSPKYOTO 215X. The Political Economy of Japan

OSPKYOTO 24. Japan in Contemporary International Affairs

OSPMOSC 72. Space, Politics, and Modernity in Russia

OSPMOSC 74. Post-Soviet Eurasia and SCO: Society, Politics, Integration

OSPOXFRD 18. Making Public Policy: An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

OSPOXFRD 24. British and American Constitutional Systems in Comparative Perspective

OSPOXFRD 35. Modern UK and European Government and Politics

OSPOXFRD 62. Heretics to Headscarves

OSPOXFRD 63. Locke and his Legacy

OSPPARIS 122X. Challenges of Integration in the European Union

OSPPARIS 211X. Political Attitudes and Behavior in Contemporary France

OSPPARIS 57. Human Rights in Comparative Perspective

OSPSANTG 116X. Modernization and its Discontents: Chilean Politics at the Turn of the Century

OSPSANTG 129X. Latin America in the International System

OSPSANTG 221X. Political Transition and Democratic Consolidation: Chile in Comparative Perspective

PUBLPOL 102. Organizations and Public Policy

PUBLPOL 183. Philanthropy and Social Innovation

REES 105/205. Central and East European Politics

REES 320. State and Nation Building in Central Asia


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

Applicants must have a 3.5 grade point average (GPA) in Political Science courses, and an adviser who must be a member of the academic council. Students are required to declare their intention to pursue honors on the Major Proposal form. Applications can be obtained from the department office.

Students pursuing honors must complete the following by the end of Spring Quarter of their junior year: Methods requirement (POLISCI 150A,B,C, 151A, 151B, STATS 60, or ECON 102A), WIM requirement, and a completed research paper from an advanced undergraduate seminar or directed reading. Students are required to enroll in one quarter of POLISCI 299Q, Junior Research Seminar, in the junior year. This credit/no-credit course is designed to help students find a manageable thesis topic and adviser.

Students who are accepted into the program should plan to make the thesis the focus of their senior year. They should enroll in POLISCI 299A,B,C, which covers research and writing directed by the student's adviser. In addition, students must enroll in POLISCI 299R, a 3-unit Autumn Quarter seminar designed to develop research and writing skills. In the Winter Quarter, students must enroll in POLISCI 299S which is a credit/no credit tutorial in which students work with other students and tutors to finish their research.

Most students find themselves in one of two groups: (1) those who already have substantial background in their thesis topic, and can expect to complete the honors program in two or three quarters for a total of 10-15 units completed in POLISCI 299A,B,C; or (2) those who have little or no previous work on the topic, and can expect to complete the program in three quarters with 15 units of work.

To complete the honors program, students must:

  1. Complete all requirements for the major.
  2. Enroll in one quarter of POLISCI 299Q, 299R, and 299S.
  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, POLISCI 299R, Senior Research Seminar, or POLISCI 299S, Senior Honors Tutorial, 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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