Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree with a Major in Political Science

Program Learning Outcomes for the BA Degree with a Major in Political Science

Upon completing the BA degree with a major in Political Science, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a basic understanding of American Politics including governing institutions and branches, political actors and organizations, political behavior and the operation of government at both the national and sub-national levels.
  2. Understand government and politics in a comparative perspective.
  3. Understand government and politics in a global context.
  4. Develop a deeper understanding of specialized political science topics. 
  5. Use critical thinking skills to apply methodological, theoretical, and research knowledge to political science issues in order to begin producing independent research in the field, including completion of research projects, research papers, articles, and poster sessions.

Requirements for the BA Degree with a Major in Political Science

For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements. Students pursuing the BA degree with a major in Political Science must complete:

  • A minimum of 12 courses (36 credit hours) to satisfy major requirements.
  • A minimum of 120 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements.
  • A minimum of 60 credit hours outside of major requirements. 
  • A minimum of 2 courses (6 credit hours) at the 300-level or above from course offerings in any of the following six fields: ANTH, ECON, HIST, PHIL, PSYC, SOCI.
  • A minimum of 1 course (3 credit hours) from each of the following fields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, and International Relations.
  • A minimum of 1 Statistics course offered by the Department of Political Science. The undergraduate statistics course is POLI 395.
  • A minimum of 2 seminars taught by different instructors. Note: seminars are courses numbered at the 400-level.
  • The requirements for one area of specialization (see list below). The Political Science major offers the following areas of specialization:

The courses listed below satisfy the requirements for this major. In certain instances, courses not on this official list may be substituted upon approval of the major’s academic advisor (or official certifier). Students and their academic advisors should identify and clearly document the courses to be taken.

Summary

Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Political Science36
Total Credit Hours Required for the BA Degree with a Major in Political Science 120

Degree Requirements

Core Requirements
Introductory Courses 1
Select at least 2 from the following:6
INTRODUCTION TO CONSTITUTIONALISM AND MODERN POLITICAL THOUGHT
AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
INTRODUCTION TO COMPARATIVE POLITICS
Introduction to Statistics
POLI 395INTRODUCTION TO STATISTICS3
Upper-Level Courses in Approved Fields Outside Political Science
Select 2 from the following departmental course offerings at the 300-level or above:6
Anthropology (ANTH)
Economics (ECON)
History (HIST)
Philosophy (PHIL)
Psychology (PSYC)
Sociology (SOCI)
Area of Specialization 2
Select 1 from the following Areas of Specialization:21
American Politics
Comparative Politics
International Relations
Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Political Science 36
Additional Credit Hours to Complete BA Degree Requirements24
University Graduation Requirements *60
Total Credit Hours120

Footnotes and Additional Information 

Areas of Specialization

Students must complete the requirements as listed for one of the following areas of specialization as offered by the Political Science major. Note that courses taken as part of the Introductory Courses requirement and the Seminar Courses requirement can also be used to satisfy the requirements listed below. All courses referenced in the Area of Specialization requirements can be found in the Field Courses lists below the specialization requirements.   

Area of Specialization: American Politics

To fulfill the remaining Political Science major requirements, students pursuing the American Politics area of specialization must complete a total of 7 additional courses (21 credit hours).

Introductory Course
POLI 210AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS3
Breadth
Select a minimum of 1 course from the following fields (see below for Field Courses lists): 16
Comparative Politics field
International Relations field
Elective Requirements
Select a total of 2 courses from the American Politics field (Select a minimum of 1 course from the following fields (see below for Field Courses lists). 6
Seminar
Select a total of 2 courses from Seminar courses (see below for Seminar courses). 26
Total Credit Hours21
Footnotes and Additional Information 

Area of Specialization: Comparative Politics

To fulfill the remaining Political Science major requirements, students pursuing the Comparative Politics area of specialization must complete a total of 7 additional courses (21 credit hours).

Introductory Course
POLI 212INTRODUCTION TO COMPARATIVE POLITICS3
Breadth
Select a minimum of 1 course from the following fields (see below for Field Courses lists): 16
American Politics field
International Relations field
Elective Requirements
Select a total of 2 courses from the Comparative Politics field (see below for Field Courses list).6
Seminar
Select a total of 2 courses from Seminar courses (see below for Seminar courses). 26
Total Credit Hours21
Footnotes and Additional Information 

Area of Specialization: International Relations

To fulfill the remaining Political Science major requirements, students pursuing the International Relations area of specialization must complete a total of 7 additional courses (21 credit hours).

Introductory Course
POLI 211INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS3
Breadth
Select a minimum of 1 course from the following fields (see below for Field Courses lists): 16
American Politics field
Comparative Politics field
Elective Requirements
Select a total of 2 courses from the International Relations field (see below for Field Courses list). 6
Seminar
Select a total of 2 courses from Seminar courses (see below for Seminar courses). 26
Total Credit Hours21
Footnotes and Additional Information 

Field Courses

To satisfy the requirements listed above, students can find the Field Courses lists below.

American Politics Field Courses

American Politics Seminar courses can be selected from any course listed below at the 400-level or above.

POLI 210AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS3
POLI 301STATE POLITICS3
POLI 315ELECTIONS AND VOTING BEHAVIOR3
POLI 317THE CONGRESS3
POLI 318THE PRESIDENCY3
POLI 320 / RELI 320THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK OF RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE2
POLI 321AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW3
POLI 322POLITICS OF INFLUENCE IN THE UNITED STATES3
POLI 325AFRICAN AMERICAN POLITICS3
POLI 328LATINO POLITICS IN THE UNITED STATES3
POLI 329HEALTH POLICY3
POLI 330MINORITY POLITICS3
POLI 331ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS AND POLICY3
POLI 332URBAN POLITICS3
POLI 334AMERICAN POLITICAL PARTIES3
POLI 335POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT OF BUSINESS3
POLI 336POLITICS OF REGULATION3
POLI 337PUBLIC POLICY3
POLI 338 / SOSC 301POLICY ANALYSIS3
POLI 339SOUTHERN POLITICS3
POLI 342POLITICS OF THE JUDICIARY3
POLI 343MEDIA AND POLITICS3
POLI 350URBAN LAB HOUSTON1
POLI 380POLITICAL BEHAVIOR3
POLI 401STATE POLITICS RESEARCH SEMINAR3
POLI 417CONGRESS AND THE CONSTITUTION3
POLI 418SEMINAR ON THE PRESIDENCY3
POLI 419POLITICAL PARTIES AND INTEREST GROUPS IN AMERICAN POLITICS3
POLI 420 / COMP 435 / PSYC 420ELECTION SYSTEMS, TECHNIQUES, AND ADMINISTRATION3
POLI 421CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN AMERICAN POLITICS3
POLI 430SEMINAR IN TEXAS POLITICS3
POLI 431ELECTORAL CAMPAIGNS3
POLI 432URBAN POLITICS3
POLI 434PUBLIC POLICY AND METROPOLITAN AREA GOVERNANCE3
POLI 435SEMINAR ON MONEY AND POLITICS3
POLI 436POLITICS OF REGULATION3
POLI 437EDUCATION POLICY3
POLI 438RACE AND PUBLIC POLICY3
POLI 439RESEARCH SEMINAR ON SOUTHERN POLITICS3
POLI 442SUBNATIONAL POLITICS3
POLI 445SEMINAR IN JUDICIAL PROCESS AND BEHAVIOR3
POLI 480SEMINAR IN POLITICAL BEHAVIOR3
Comparative Politics Field Courses

Comparative Politics Seminar courses can be selected from any course listed below at the 400-level or above.

POLI 212INTRODUCTION TO COMPARATIVE POLITICS3
POLI 250 / ASIA 251 / SWGS 250SEX, MONEY, AND POWER AROUND THE WORLD3
POLI 324 / FREN 324 / RELI 476FROM DECOLONIZATION TO GLOBALIZATION3
POLI 333COMPARATIVE LEGISLATURES3
POLI 345URBAN LAB MIDDLE EAST1
POLI 347 / ASIA 347URBAN LAB SHANGHAI1
POLI 348URBAN LAB BUENOS AIRES1
POLI 349 / ASIA 349URBAN LAB ISTANBUL1
POLI 352THE POLITICS AND CULTURE OF MEXICO3
POLI 353 / ASIA 353EAST ASIAN DEMOCRACIES3
POLI 354LATIN AMERICAN POLITICS3
POLI 355GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS OF THE MIDDLE EAST3
POLI 356REPRESENTATION AND POLICY MAKING3
POLI 357DEMOCRACY AND DEMOCRATIZATION3
POLI 358COMPARATIVE POLITICAL BEHAVIOR3
POLI 360WESTERN EUROPEAN DEMOCRACIES3
POLI 362COMPARATIVE URBAN POLITICS AND POLICY3
POLI 365BRITISH POLITICS3
POLI 367TRANSITIONS TO DEMOCRACY3
POLI 433COMPARATIVE LEGISLATURES3
POLI 444PRACTICUM IN LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH3
POLI 450ELECTIONS IN THE AMERICAS3
POLI 454RESEARCH PRACTICUM IN COMPARATIVE POLITICS3
POLI 457CONDITIONS OF DEMOCRACY3
POLI 458GENDER AND POLITICS IN THE MIDDLE EAST3
POLI 459SEX, GENDER, AND POLITICAL REPRESENTATION IN LATIN AMERICA3
POLI 460SEMINAR IN COMPARATIVE GOVERNMENT3
POLI 462COMPARATIVE PUBLIC POLICY3
POLI 463COMPARATIVE POLITICAL ECONOMY3
POLI 464RESEARCH SEMINAR ON COMPARATIVE URBAN POLITICS AND POLICY3
POLI 466POLITICAL PARTIES AND VOTING BEHAVIOR IN WESTERN DEMOCRACIES3
POLI 483U.S.: MEXICO BORDER ISSUES IN COMPARATIVE PERSEPCTIVE3
POLI 489 / ASIA 489CHINESE POLITICS IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE3
International Relations Field Courses

International Relations Seminar courses can be selected from any course listed below at the 400-level or above.

POLI 211INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS3
POLI 371CIVIL WARS3
POLI 372AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY3
POLI 373WAR AND POLITICS3
POLI 374STRATEGIC INTERACTIONS IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS3
POLI 375INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION3
POLI 378POLITICS OF AMERICAN NATIONAL SECURITY3
POLI 379PROBLEMS IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS3
POLI 469CIVIL WAR AND TERRORISM3
POLI 470INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS3
POLI 471POLITICS OF THE UNITED NATIONS3
POLI 472AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY3
POLI 473THE CRAFT OF INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS, PREDICTION AND CONNECTING THE DOTS3
POLI 474INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: THEORIES AND PRACTICE3
POLI 475INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION3
POLI 476INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL ECONOMY3
POLI 478US - CHINA: CONFLICT AND COOPERATION3
POLI 479SEMINAR IN QUANTITATIVE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS3
POLI 481UNDERSTANDING WAR AND PEACE3
POLI 482THE CAUSES OF WAR AND THE WAR IN IRAQ3
Theory and Methods Field Courses

Theory and Methods Seminar courses can be selected from any course listed below at the 400-level or above.

POLI 209INTRODUCTION TO CONSTITUTIONALISM AND MODERN POLITICAL THOUGHT3
POLI 310THE BIOLOGY OF POLIITICS3
POLI 340ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL POLITICAL THEORY3
POLI 395INTRODUCTION TO STATISTICS 13
POLI 429BIOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF POLITICS3
POLI 441 / ENST 441GOVERNING THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMMONS3
POLI 461POLITICS, RISK, AND ENERGY3
POLI 490POLITICS AND THE ARTS3
 Footnotes and Additional Information

Policies for the BA Degree with a Major in Political Science

Transfer Credit 

For Rice University’s policy regarding transfer credit, see Transfer Credit. Some departments and programs have additional restrictions on transfer credit. The Office of Academic Advising maintains the university’s official list of transfer credit advisors on their website: http://oaa.rice.edu. Students are encouraged to meet with their academic program’s transfer credit advisor when considering transfer credit possibilities. 

Departmental Transfer Credit Guidelines

Students pursuing the major in Political Science should be aware of the following departmental transfer credit guidelines:

  • Requests for transfer credit will be considered by the program director (and/or the program’s official transfer credit advisor) on an individual case-by-case basis.
  • Transfer credit coursework from online-only courses cannot be used to count towards the major.

For additional information, please see the Political Science website: https://politicalscience.rice.edu/.

Opportunities for the BA Degree with a Major in Political Science 

Academic Honors

The university recognizes academic excellence achieved over an undergraduate’s academic history at Rice. For information on university honors, please see Latin Honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude) and Distinction in Research and Creative Work. Some departments have department-specific Honors awards or designations.

Departmental Honors Program

Admission to the honors program requires the approval of the department's Director of Undergraduate Studies. The faculty member supervising the thesis must have a full-time appointment in the Department of Political Science. During the first semester of the two-semester program, students take one reading course that provides them with a basis for drawing up a thesis prospectus. During the second semester, students write their honors thesis. An electronic copy of the thesis must be sent to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Students may not combine the two honors courses into one semester. Those who successfully complete the honors program may substitute it for one of the seminars required for the major. Failure to complete the second semester of the honors program will result in loss of credit for the first semester of the honors program.

Work for the Honors Program must be original. It cannot be taken from other courses at Rice or other institutions. This includes using the same work for another honors program (i.e. using the same work for honors in political science and another discipline). If a student has a question about what is permitted, the student should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies. This consultation should take place early in the first semester of the honors program.

Alternatively, students may earn honors in political science by successfully completing the Rice University Honors Program (RUSP), HONS 470/HONS 471. In addition to successfully completing this program, the student must complete a research project in political science, and the student must be supervised by a full-time faculty member in the political science department. See also Honors Programs.

Directed Readings Courses

Directed readings courses are intended for students who have completed a substantial number of political science courses and who seek to explore a subject not covered in regular courses. They are available only if an appropriate faculty member agrees to supervise. The faculty member supervising a directed readings course must have a full-time appointment in the Department of Political Science. The student may not take more than one readings course from him or her. Students should submit a brief, one-page description of the work to be conducted in the readings course (including the name of the faculty supervisor) to the department's Director of Undergraduate Studies no later than two weeks into the semester in which they intend to take the course. Readings courses do not count toward the department’s distribution requirement.

For additional information, please see the Political Science website at: https://politicalscience.rice.edu/.