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BA in Political Science

Political Science (BA)

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

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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.

AU Core Requirements

For additional information, see AU Core Curriculum.

Major Requirements

  • 39 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)

Major Related Social Science (3 credit hours)

Complete 3 credit hours from one of the following disciplines: 

American Studies

Anthropology

Communication

Economics

  • ECON course at or above 200-level

History

  • HIST course at or above 200-level

International Studies

  • SISU course at or above 200-level

Justice

Philosophy

Psychology

Sociology

  • SOCY course at or above 200-level

Women's and Gender Studies

Specialization (24 credit hours)

Complete 24 credit hours in the Department of Government with a minimum of 12-15 credit hours at or above 300-level (dependent on whether an upper-level course fulfills the Major Related Social Science requirement) and at least 6 credit hours at 400- or 500-level. Students complete 15 credit hours in one specialization. The remaining credit hours are selected from other Government courses; courses may not be double counted.

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 specialization.

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 specialization.

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 specialization.

Non-Specialization

  • 24 credit hours in the Department of Government with a minimum of 12-15 credit hours at or above 300-level (dependent on whether an upper-level course fulfills the Major Related Social Science requirement) and at least 6 credit hours at 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 Admission to a Combined Bachelor's / Master's Program and Combined Bachelor's and Master's Degrees for 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 3.30 cumulative GPA, 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

Program Goals

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

  1. Demonstrate interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of key theories, concepts, and issues surrounding the study of political institutions and processes from the four foci of the major: Communications, Law, Economics, and Government.
  2. Demonstrate critical thinking, written and oral communication skills.
  3. Demonstrate competence in analyzing, interpreting and evaluating. within the realm of public policy.
  4. Apply the knowledge and skills acquired in the major to the practice of actual politics and policy-making.