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Department of Government

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.

  • 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, including at least 18 credit hours at or above 300-level.
  • 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)

  • Complete 12 credit hours above the introductory level from at least two of the following disciplines: economics, history, international studies, sociology, and the following courses in the specified disciplines.

American Studies

Anthropology

Communication

Justice

Philosophy

Psychology

Women's and Gender Studies

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 (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.

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

Combined Political Science (BA) and Political Science (MA)

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 Degreesfor more information.

In addition to meeting the minimum university requirements for combined bachelor's/master's programs:

  • Admission to the combined BA/MA program requires junior standing, a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.30, a completed application form, two 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 junior year, after completion of 75-90 credits. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for admission to the BA/MA program.
  • 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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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.