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Department of Government

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Bachelors in Political Science

Bachelor's
in Political Science

Join one of the nation's most politically active campuses.

Political Science (BA)

Offered by the Department of Government, School of Public Affairs.

Admission to the Program

New freshmen and transfer students are admitted through the university's Admissions Office. Students currently enrolled in the university who wish to transfer into the Department of Government or develop a double major or minor should have a grade point average of 2.50 or higher and the approval of the undergraduate academic advisor.

University Requirements

  • 120 credit hours with a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or better
  • Completion of college writing requirement
  • Completion of university mathematics requirement

General Education Requirements

  • A total of ten courses, consisting of two courses from each of the five foundational areas
  • At least one course from Area Five: The Natural and Mathematical Sciences must include a laboratory science component
  • No more than two courses may be taken in the same discipline

Major Requirements

  • 58 credit hours with grades of C or better
  • Portfolio requirement: all students submit a portfolio of 2-4 papers of their best written work from upper-level major courses in the final semester of their program for departmental assessment

Course Requirements

Foundation (12 credit hours)

Research Methods (7 credit hours)

Major Related Social Science (12 credit hours)

  • 12 credit hours above the introductory level from at least two of the following disciplines: economics, history, international studies, sociology, and specified courses in American studies, anthropology, communication, justice, philosophy, psychology, and women's and gender studies. The list of approved courses is available in the Department of Government office.

Concentration (27 credit hours)

  • 27 credit hours in the Department of Government with 6 credit hours at the 400 or 500 level. Students complete 15 credits in one concentration. The remaining credits are selected from other Government courses; courses may not be double counted.
    • Additional courses may be used with prior approval of the department. Up to 9 credit hours may be taken from the following: internship, independent study, independent reading, honors thesis, international service (SIS) courses, Washington Semester, and American University study abroad programs, with a maximum of 6 credit hours from any one area. Up to three 1 credit hour courses may be used toward the completion of a concentration.

American Government

With prior department approval, in addition to the courses below, up to 9 credit hours may be taken from the following: internship, independent study, independent reading, honors thesis, international service (SIS/SISU) courses, Washington Semester, and American University study abroad programs, with a maximum of 6 credit hours from any one area. Up to three 1 credit hour courses may be used toward the completion of a concentration.

Comparative Politics

With prior department approval, in addition to the courses below, up to 9 credit hours may be taken from the following: internship, independent study, independent reading, honors thesis, international service (SIS/SISU) courses, Washington Semester, and American University study abroad programs, with a maximum of 6 credit hours from any one area.

Gender, Race, and Politics

With prior department approval, in addition to the courses below, up to 9 credit hours may be taken from the following: internship, independent study, independent reading, honors thesis, international service (SIS/SISU) courses, Washington Semester, and American University study abroad programs, with a maximum of 6 credit hours from any one area. Up to three 1 credit hour courses may be used toward the completion of a concentration.

Law and Politics

With prior department approval, in addition to the courses below, up to 9 credit hours may be taken from the following: internship, independent study, independent reading, honors thesis, international service (SIS/SISU) courses, Washington Semester, and American University study abroad programs, with a maximum of 6 credit hours from any one area.

Political Theory

With prior department approval, in addition to the courses below, up to 9 credit hours may be taken from the following: internship, independent study, independent reading, honors thesis, international service (SIS/SISU) courses, Washington Semester, and American University study abroad programs, with a maximum of 6 credit hours from any one area.

Policy

With prior department approval, in addition to the courses below, up to 9 credit hours may be taken from the following: internship, independent study, independent reading, honors thesis, international service (SIS/SISU) courses, Washington Semester, and American University study abroad programs, with a maximum of 6 credit hours from any one area. Up to three 1 credit hour courses may be used toward the completion of a concentration.

Non-Specialization

27 credit hours in the Department of Government with 21 credit hours at the 200 or 300 level and 6 credit hours at the 400 or 500 level

University Honors Program

To graduate with University Honors in the major through the University Honors Program, students must meet the requirements detailed on the Honors website and have been enrolled as either a first-year student between Fall 1989 and Spring 2014, or as a transfer or self-nominated student through Spring 2015. The University Honors Program should not be confused with the AU Honors Program, which begins in Fall 2014 and has separate requirements, also detailed on the Honors website.

Combined BA and MA in Political Science

American University offers students the opportunity to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees through its combined bachelor's/master's programs. See Combined Bachelor's and Master's Degrees for more information.

This program enables qualified students to earn, in a continuous plan of study, both the BA in Political Science and the MA in Political Science.

Requirements

  • Admission to the combined BA/MA program requires junior standing, a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.30, a completed application form, a written faculty recommendation, an essay on the student's interests and abilities in political science, and an interview with a Department of Government graduate advisor. Students must apply for admission to the graduate program no later than the last undergraduate semester. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for admission to the MA program.
  • All requirements for the BA in Political Science
    • Undergraduate students may apply up to 12 credit hours of approved graduate-level coursework to satisfy the requirements for both degrees.
  • All requirements for the MA in Political Science, including a minimum of 18 credit hours completed in residence in graduate status after the undergraduate degree has been awarded. Students must finish the master's degree requirements within three years from the date of first enrollment in the master's program.

Apply Now

For additional information regarding American University's undergraduate admissions requirements and application process, please visit american.edu/admissions.

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SPA undergraduate program experience

We offer our students extensive individual attention and a dynamic and rigorous curriculum. We heavily promote our academic side, offering in-depth learning from accomplished faculty, and we also encourage our students to undertake internships and study abroad.

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Program Goals

Upon completion of our program, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key theories, concepts, and issues surrounding the study of political institutions and processes.
  2. Demonstrate critical thinking, written and oral communication skills.
  3. Demonstrate competence in analyzing, interpreting and evaluating political science research.
  4. Apply the knowledge and skills acquired in the major to the practice of actual politics.