Major Requirements

Majors in Political Science must complete 10 courses for rite or 12 for honors in courses offered or approved by the Department, including at least one introductory course numbered in the 100's and at least one advanced seminar. In addition they must fulfill a distribution requirement and complete a core concentration within Political Science.

Introductory Courses

The Political Science department offers a broad range of courses. Introductory courses are generally numbered in the 100s.  Because these courses are designed to introduce students to the study of politics, the department recommends that they be taken in the first and second year.  Students may count a maximum of two introductory courses toward their major.  FYSE courses taught by members of our department count toward the introductory course requirement.

Advanced Seminars

These courses are generally numbered in the 400s. They have prerequisites, limited enrollment, and a substantial writing requirement.

Distribution Requirement

To fulfill the distribution requirement, majors must take one course in each of the following areas: Institutions and Law: States, institutions, parties, political economy, the law and public policy [IL]; Society and Culture: Civil society, social movements, rights and identities, cultural politics [SC]; Global: War, peace, diplomacy, foreign policy and globalization studies [G]; Political Theory: Power, norms, and justice [PT].

Core Concentration

Political Science majors shall also designate a core concentration within the major. The core concentration will consist of a minimum of four courses organized around a theme chosen by the student in consultation with the advisor. Students may count up to two courses from outside the Political Science Department to fulfill the core requirement. These courses will count for the completion of the major. Ordinarily students shall designate a core concentration by the end of the sophomore year or at the time they declare the major. Advisors will certify that graduating students have completed their core concentration requirement.

Credits for Study Abroad and Transfer Students

Two courses for those going abroad for 1 semester; 3 courses for students going abroad for 1 year. Courses must 1) be taught by someone with a degree in political science or have substantial political content; and 2) must not be redundant with other courses already taken in the Five Colleges. The chair of the department will decide whether courses will be given credit toward the major. 

For students transferring to Amherst, the Department will accept three courses for the major.  We may waive the introductory course requirement if the transfer student has had an equivalent course.

For students coming to the College with a BA in hand (e.g. from Japanese universities), we will accept 4 courses and waive the introductory course requirement.

Decisions Regarding Credit or Requests to Vary the Requirements for Completion of the Major

Decisions regarding credit or requests to vary the requirements for completion of the major shall be made by the Department Chair.

Major Program and Core Concentration Advising Form

Declaring Your Political Science Major

To officially declare your major in Political Science with the Registrar's office, you must print and complete the form at the link below.  Your form will need to be signed by your current advisor and the chair of the Political Science department and then brought the Registrar's office.

Form to declare a Political Science major.

When students declare their Political Science major, the department chair found here https://www.amherst.edu/mm/30220 will assign a major advisor.  If you have decided to declare, please send an email to the department chair. The email should include the following information:

  1. A copy of the Political Science Major Advising Form (please include courses you have taken and are currently taking)
  2. Preferences for major advisor indicating whether you have already spoken to him or her about serving as your advisor
  3. Other majors you have already declared or intend to declare.
  4. You should arrange for a time to meet with the department chair to have your advisor assigned and major declaration form signed. Open office hours for the department chair can be found here https://www.amherst.edu/mm/34891.

After your major advisor has been assigned, we strongly recommend that you arrange a meeting with your new advisor to talk about the major requirements.