The Undergraduate Major

Students who major in political science must complete 39 hours in political science courses (and a maximum 42 hours of political science courses may count towards graduation). The undergraduate curriculum in the Political Science major consists of four basic parts: (1) broad introductory courses across the discipline’s subfields, (2) upper-level courses within the student’s choosen track, (3) a related set of courses in a non-Political Science discipline, and (4) a “capstone” experience in Political Science,

1. Introductory Courses. Prospective majors typically enter the program by taking the introductory American Government course (POLS102). After that, in order to assure a general familiarity with the breadth of the discipline, majors are required to take one course in each of its major subfields. In addition to American government and politics (satisfied by POLS102), students take intermediate (200-level) courses in the following sub-fields: Public Policy and Public Administration (POLS230/240), Comparative Politics (POLS250), International Relations (POLS260), and Political Theory (POLS270/271). All majors are also required to take a course in Empirical Research Methods (POLS300), and they are encouraged to do so in their sophomore year. Finally, prospective majors are also encouraged, although not required, to enroll in POLS199 “Orientation to Political Science”.

2. Specialized Tracks. Having achieved a broad background across the discipline’s sub-fields, Political Science majors then elect to specialize within a particular track or “area of emphasis”. Drawing upon advanced 300 and 400 level courses, majors are able to gain more in-depth training in an area that will equip them for their future career and/or advanced education in graduate or law school. These specialized tracks fall into three general areas; click on the following links for details about each area of emphasis.

It is also possible for students with broad interests to pursue the General Political Science track in which they can elect to take advanced courses from different sub-fields to meet their interests. Click on this link for specific course requirements and electives for the General Political Science area of emphasis.

3. Elective non-Political Science Courses and/or Formal Minor. Political science majors are required to take six hours in introductory economics (ECON201 Microeconomics and ECON202 Macroeconomics). They also may benefit from pursuing a minor in a related field with at least twelve hours at the 200-level or above in a related discipline. Typical minors include such fields as economics, history, psychology, philosophy, geography, sociology, journalism, English, statistics, communications, or computer science.

4. Capstone Experience. As with all majors at WVU, Political Science students are required to complete a “capstone” course. The capstone experience is intended to have the student pursue the study of political science in a non-classroom setting and in a way that draws upon prior course work in manner that integrates prior work on politics and policy. Capstone experiences may include such activities as internships, designated classroom simulations, service learning, Model United Nations, and study abroad in Political Science or International Studies.