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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

Penn State Altoona

Political Science

Altoona College (PLSAL)
Capital College (PLSCA)
University Park, College of the Liberal Arts (PL SC)
World Campus


The Political Science major offers the student an opportunity to understand not only American federal, state, and local governments, but also the political systems of other nations and the philosophies that underlie them. Courses are offered in American, comparative, and international politics, and in political theory and methodology. Internship opportunities are available.

For the B.A. degree in Political Science, a minimum of 123 credits is required.

Per Senate Policy 83-80.5, the college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. For more information, check the Recommended Academic Plan for your intended program.

Scheduling Recommendation by Semester Standing given like (Sem: 1-2)

(See description of General Education in this bulletin.)

(Included in ELECTIVES or GENERAL EDUCATION course selections)



ELECTIVES: 18 credits

(3 of these 24 credits are included in the REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR, GENERAL EDUCATION, or ELECTIVES and 0-12 credits are included in ELECTIVES if foreign language proficiency is demonstrated by examination.)
(See description of Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements in this bulletin.)


(In meeting these requirements, students must take at least one course at any level from the four fields offered in the department: Political Theory/Methodology, American Politics/Public Administration, Comparative Politics, and International Relations)
Select 12 credits from below the 400 level (Sem: 1-6)
Select 15 credits from the 400 level and above in political science (Sem: 3-8)
Select 9 credits in political science or in related disciplines from departmental list of approved courses. Substitutions may be made with the written permission of the faculty adviser. (Sem: 3-8)

Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate (IUG) Degree Program B.A. in Political Science and Master's in International Affairs (M.I.A.)

The integrated undergraduate-graduate (IUG) degree program (B.A. in Political Science/M.I.A. in International Affairs) will provide an opportunity for strong students in Political Science to complete a Master’s degree with 5 total years of study.

An increasingly globalized economy is likely to escalate the demand for graduate training in international affairs. The career choices for graduates with this training will also expand sharply. The integrated degree program would prepare students for a variety of careers requiring an interdisciplinary background in politics and international affairs. Examples of types of entities hiring in these areas are federal, state, and local governments, international organizations, multinational corporations, international banking and financial institutions, media organizations and journalism, consulting firms, policy research centers, and development assistance programs and foundations. The School of International Affairs (SIA) Master's in International Affairs (M.I.A.) represents a professional degree designed to prepare students to thrive in these increasingly global career paths.

The IUG degree in International Affairs and Political Science is both timely and consistent with the tradition of interdisciplinary studies at other schools of international affairs. It will also strengthen the School of International Affairs’ existing collaborations and interactions with the College of the Liberal Arts.

Admission Requirements

The number of openings in the integrated B.A./M.I.A. program is limited. Admission will be selective based on specific criteria set by the School of International Affairs. Students shall be admitted to an IUG program no earlier than the beginning of the third semester of undergraduate study at Penn State (regardless of transfer or AP credits accumulated prior to enrollment) and no later than the end of the second week of the semester preceding the semester of expected conferral of the undergraduate degree, as specified in the proposed IUG plan of study. Specific requirements:

  1. Must be enrolled in the Political Science B.A. program.
  2. Must apply to and be accepted into The Graduate School and the M.I.A. program in the School of International Affairs. Students must complete the Graduate School application. All applicants will submit GRE scores, two letters of recommendation and a personal statement addressing their reasons for pursuing a graduate degree in international affairs and discussing their plans and goals.
  3. Although the program has no fixed minimum grade-point average, an applicant is generally expected to have a minimum overall GPA of 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in undergraduate coursework and a minimum GPA of 3.5 in all coursework completed for the major.
  4. Must include a plan of study identifying undergraduate credits to be applied to the M.I.A. degree elective requirements.
  5. Must provide written endorsement from the head of Political Science.

M.I.A. Requirements for the Integrated B.A./M.I.A.
M.I.A. portion of the integrated B.A./M.I.A. will require the completion of a minimum of 42 credits at the 400 level or higher, at least 18 of which are from six core courses consisting of INTAF 801(3), 802(3), 803(3), 804(3), 805(3) and INTAF 590(3). The remaining credits are attained through completion of the approved elective courses.

In addition to the core curriculum and elective courses, M.I.A. degree candidates must complete either: (i) a master's paper; or (ii) a supervised internship placement. If the first option is chosen and the candidate opts to complete a paper, he/she must complete 3 credits of INTAF 594. The master's paper will involve integrating and showing mastery of the subject matter of the student's curricular emphasis, and may also involve original research. If the second option is chosen, the candidate will complete 3 credits of INTAF 595. The student will participate in a supervised internship of sufficient depth and professionalism that will allow the student to experience the integration of his/her curricular studies in an actual professional environment. A reflective paper will be submitted as a part of this credit requirement.

In order to graduate, M.I.A. degree students also will need to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English. Proficiency will be defined as follows: (i) four semesters of a Penn State language sequence or its equivalent (15 credits with a quality grade of C or better using a 4.0 scale); (ii) native acquisition, as shown by the candidate's personal history and approved by the SIA faculty; or (iii) performance on a proficiency evaluation sufficient to equal four semesters of language learning: for this purpose, either Penn State's proficiency certification process or another pre-approved proficiency assessment may be used. Language study does not provide credits towards the degree.

M.I.A Degree
Core Courses (18)
INTAF 801(3), INTAF 802(3), INTAF 803(3), INTAF 804(3), INTAF 805(3), INTAF 590(3)
Electives (21)
Course choices are from a pre-approved list in the SIA, or by SIA faculty approved substitution

Capstone (3)
Master’s Paper (INTAF 594) or Internship (INTAF 595)
Total Degree Credits (42)

Integrated B.A./M.I.A. Degree
Core Courses (18)
INTAF 801(3), INTAF 802(3), INTAF 803(3), INTAF 804(3), INTAF 805(3), INTAF 590(3)
Electives (21)
The following 12 credits may be double counted toward the B.A. and the M.I.A.: PLSC 415(3), PLSC 441(3), PLSC 550(3), PLSC 554(3).
Capstone (3)
Master’s Paper (INTAF 594) or Internship (INTAF 595)
Total Degree Credits (42)

Sample Program of Study
A typical sequence of coursework for a student in the IUG program would appear as follows:

Year One:

Political Science

PLSC 1; PLSC 14 or PLSC 3

Year Two:

Political Science

PLSC 3 or PLSC 20; 400-level course

Year Three: 

Political Science

400 level PLSC class; PLSC 7 or PLSC 17; related course

Year Four:

Fall Semester

INTAF 801, INTAF 802 and INTAF 803 are required. Additional 400-level PLSC, related course(s), or HIST/GEOG/Economics course(s) may be taken.


Spring Semester

INTAF 804, INTAF 805 and INTAF 590 are required. Additional 400-level PLSC, related course(s), or HIST/GEOG/Economics course(s) may also be taken.


Year Five:

24 credits

The following 12 credits may be double counted toward the B.A. and the M.I.A.: PLSC 415(3), PLSC 441(3), PLSC 550(3), PLSC 554(3).

Tuition Charges, Grant-in-Aid and Assistantships

Students admitted to the School of International Affairs through the IUG with Political Science may be considered to receive financial assistance.

[1] A student enrolled in this major must receive a grade of C or better, as specified in Senate Policy 82-44.

Last Revised by the Department: Fall Semester 2013

Blue Sheet Item #: 42-03-079

Review Date: 11/19/2013


Date department head updated by Publications: 4/20/10 


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