Major Requirements

Political Science majors must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Ten Courses in Political Science.
    • Fall 2009-Spring 2010: The advanced seminar, the methodologically-focused course, and a minimum of seven of the ten political science courses must be taken in the Tufts University Department of Political Science.
    • Beginning September 1, 2010: All Tufts University Political Science majors will be required to take eight of the ten political science courses in the Tufts University Department of Political Science. All of the other requirements of the major—the two foundation courses, the course in each of the four major subfields, the methodologically-focused course, and the advanced seminar—must also be fulfilled in the Tufts University Department of Political Science. Note: These foundational courses will not count towards a major concentration requirement if taken abroad.
  • Two Foundational or Category I Courses. All PS majors are required to take 2 Foundational or Category I courses that introduce students to key concepts in Political Science. The following courses fulfill the foundational requirement:

    PS 11: Introduction to American Politics
    PS 21: Introduction to Comparative Politics
    PS 41: Western Political Thought I (formerly PS 45)
    PS 42: Western Political Thought II (formerly PS 46)
    PS 61: Introduction to International Relations
    PS 43: Justice, Equality and Liberty only if taken prior to 2009; after 2009, does not fulfill the foundational requirement
  • One Course in Each of the Four Major Subfields. To ensure that students are exposed to the different areas of the discipline, they must take at least one course (Category I or Category II) in each of the four subfields that serve as the cornerstones of the political science discipline. The catalogue is organized around these four subfields and the numbering system is as follows:
    American Politics and Government 10 to 19, 100-119 and 190-197 *
    Comparative Politics and Government 20 to 39, and 120-139 **
    Political Theory and Philosophy 40-49, and 140-159
    International Relations 60-69, 125, 142, and 160-189 **

    Foundation level courses count toward fulfilling the subfield requirement. For example, if a student takes PS 41, Western Political Thought I, he or she has fulfilled the subfield requirement in political thought.

    * As of spring 2013, PS 103 will no longer count towards an American Politics subfield credit.

    ** PS 125 and PS 142 may be used to fulfill either the Comparative Politics and Government subfield requirement or the International Relations subfield requirement, but not both.  

  • One Methodologically-Focused Course. Political Science is more than just a group of courses relating to government and politics. Political Science is a discipline that is built around research principles which guide inquiry into the political process. To understand how political scientists acquire knowledge, students must understand the methods and logic of social science inquiry. How do we know that one interpretation of events or trends is more valid than another? The way questions are framed and the manner in which data are gathered affect the results of research.

    The Department has designated a set of courses as "methodologically-focused." Each student must take at least one such course to complete the major. These courses are not primarily about methodology. Rather, methodological concerns are integrated into the regular course material on a substantive topic in political science. In addition, a segment of the course may be centered on methodological approaches and one or more of the readings will emphasize research methods. We strongly recommend that students take their methodologically-focused course in their sophomore year. These courses are designed to help students understand the broader major and not just the single course which fulfills the requirement. Although students are only required to take one of these classes, they are encouraged to take additional methodologically-focused courses which fall into their area of interest. Methodologically-focused courses may also fulfill the departmental subfield or foundation requirement.

    The following courses have fulfilled the methodology requirement in the past. Please check the Department's course offerings each semester to be sure that it continues to fulfill the methodology requirement.

    PS 19 Sophomore Seminar: Political Science Research Methods
    PS 70 Sophomore Seminar: Acquiring Political Knowledge
    PS 73 Sophomore Seminar: Globalization and National Politics
    PS 74 Sophomore Seminar: Political Economy of Latin America
    PS 75 Sophomore Seminar: Politics in the City
    PS 78 Sophomore Seminar: Defense in Democracies
    PS 78 Sophomore Seminar: Political Behavior of Young People
    PS 103: Political Science Research Methods
    PS 108: Public Opinion and U.S. Democracy
    PS 109 Seminar: The Politics of Ethnicity and American Identity (Spring 2005 only)
    PS 111: Political Psychology
    PS 115: Public Opinion and Survey Research
    PS 117: Politics in the American South
    PS 118-02: Political Participation and Mass Behavior in the US
    PS 124 Seminar: Comparative Political Economy of Advanced Industrial Democracies
    PS 130 Seminar: African Political Economy
    PS 135: Comparative Revolutions
    PS 142 Seminar: Interest Groups and Democratic Theory
    PS 159-01 Seminar: Topics in Political Theory: Machiavellism
    PS 160: Force, Strategy and Arms Control
    PS 174: The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers
    PS 181: Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
    PS 184: Seminar: Better Than the Truth: Fabricated and False Facts in International Politics
    PS 166: Seminar: The Causes of Modern War
    PS 188-09: Conducting Research in International Politics
    PS 195: Seminar: Politics of Sustainable Communities
    PS 198, 199: Senior Thesis

    Additional courses are to be designated as methodologically focused and will be listed in the department's course offerings booklet distributed each semester prior to preregistration.

  • One Advanced Seminar. All majors must complete an advanced seminar during either their junior or senior year. Generally students will have taken at least one course in the broad subfield under which the seminar falls. Some seminars have one or more prerequisites. Prerequisites are listed in the catalogue descriptions of the course. Seminars must be taken within the department. Seminars taken in Tufts Abroad programs do not fulfill this requirement.

    Just because a course is small does not mean that it is a seminar. A "seminar" should have that term in the course title, utilize a seminar format (i.e., one extended session a week, enrollment limited to about 15 students), and include a substantial research paper. If you are unsure, please check with the professor teaching the course. Sophomore seminars do not fulfill the advanced seminar requirement. Both semesters of the Senior Honors Thesis count as seminar credits. The Department typically offers about seven or eight advanced seminars each semester and they are limited to fifteen students each.

There is a major checklist at the end of this handbook. It is provided so you can keep track of your progress towards fulfilling the degree requirements.

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