Political Science, B.A. (Liberal Arts)

Program Code: PLSC_BA

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have third-semester classification.

READ SENATE POLICY 37-30: ENTRANCE TO AND CHANGES IN MAJOR PROGRAMS OF STUDY

World Campus

Direct Admission to the Major

Incoming first-year students who meet the program admission requirements are admitted directly into the major. Admission restrictions may apply for change-of-major and/or change-of-campus students.

For more information about the admission process for this major, please send a request to the college, campus, or program contact (listed in the Contact tab).

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, a minimum of 123 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 18
Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements 24
Requirements for the Major 36

3 of the 24 credits for Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements 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.

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.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

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. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

B.A. Degree Requirements

Foreign Language (0-12 credits): Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one foreign language. See the Placement Policy for Penn State Foreign Language Courses.

B.A. Fields (9 credits): Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, Foreign Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (may not be taken in the area of the student's primary major; foreign language credits in this category must be in a second foreign language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language)

Other Cultures (0-3 credits): Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the General Education US/IL requirement.​

Requirements for the Major

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.

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Supporting Courses and Related Areas: Require a grade of C or better
Select 12 credits from below the 400 level12
Select 15 credits from the 400 level and above in political science15
Select 9 credits in political science or in related disciplines from departmental list of approved courses 19

Integrated B.A. in Political Science and M.I.A. in International Affairs

Available at the following campuses: University Park

Requirements for the Integrated B.A. in Political Science and M.I.A. in International Affairs can be found in the Graduate Bulletin.

Integrated B.A. in Political Science and M.P.P. In Public Policy

Available at the following campuses: University Park

Requirements for the Integrated B.A. in Political Science and M.P.P. in Public Policy can be found in the Graduate Bulletin.

Program Learning Objectives

Knowledge:

  1. Students will develop substantive knowledge of the discipline of Political Science.
    1. Students will be able to define and use the concepts political scientists employ to make and substantiate knowledge claims.
    2. Students will be able to describe the central debates and theoretical frameworks of political science and international politics.
  2. Students will develop knowledge about how political scientists use empirical analysis to gain insight into political and social processes, to advance political and social goals, and to evaluate the effects of programs and policies.
    1. Students will be able to explain multiple approaches to empirical research, such as large-scale observational research, experiments, surveys, case studies, formal modeling, and elite interviewing.
    2. Students will be able to describe both the application, and the advantages and disadvantages of different research methods in relation to particular problems.

Argumentation/Communication:

  1. Students will develop the ability to create coherent, persuasive, and empirically grounded oral and written arguments.
    1. Students will be able to construct and defend logical arguments.
    2. Students will be able to present evidence to support empirical claims.
    3. Students will be able to communicate ideas effectively in conformity with academic standards.
  2. Students will develop the ability to systematically analyze problems and draw evidenced based inferences. Students in different majors will accomplish this with different emphases depending on the courses they take as part of the BA/BS.
    1. Bachelor of Arts students in PL SC and INTPL will analyze problems and draw evidence based inferences using a broad range of techniques according to programmatic focus and individual preference.
    2. PLSC Bachelor of Science majors will analyze problems and draw inferences using various data sources and statistical tools.
    3. PLSC SO DA majors will analyze problems and draw inferences using computational tools appropriate to large complex data sets.

Critical Synthesis/Application:

  1. Students will develop the ability to combine the substantive knowledge, modes of inquiry, and analytic skills learned in the classroom to address contemporary problems in an uncertain world.
    1. Students will be able to draw upon political science research to construct testable explanations of novel situations.
    2. Students will be able to weigh the arguments, evidence and inferences used to address problems under conditions of uncertainty.
  2. Students will develop ethical reasoning and citizenship skills to participate in a global, pluralistic society.
    1. Students will be able to trace the possible ethical implications of public policies and political structures and their consequences for democratic political values.
    2. Students will be able to articulate the goals, conditions, and challenges of democracy and describe the roles of citizens and public officials in manifesting and preserving democratic values.
    3. Students will be able to critically evaluate the values inherent in the exercise of power through political systems, social structures, information, and collective action.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee’s unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.

READ SENATE POLICY 32-00: ADVISING POLICY

University Park

Liberal Arts Academic Advising
814-865-2545
Use the Liberal Arts Majors and Minors web page to see the contact information for the specific adviser(s) of this program

Altoona

Matt Evans
Associate Professor of Political Science
Smith Building C129I
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601
814-949-5782
mde15@psu.edu

Harrisburg

Alexander Siedschlag, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator
Olmsted Building, W160   
Middletown, PA 17057
717-948-4326
aus50@psu.edu

World Campus

Undergraduate Academic Advising
301 Outreach Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-863-3283
advising@outreach.psu.edu

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2020-21 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Political Science, B.A. at University Park Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PLSC 1 (US)*3PLSC 14 (IL)*3
World Language Level 14World Language Level 24
General Education Quantification3General Education Course3
FYS/General Education Course3General Education Course3
ENGL 15, 30H, 137H, CAS 137H, or ESL 15 (GWS)3CAS 100, 100A, 100B, 100C, 138T, or ENGL 138T (GWS)3
 16 16
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PLSC 3, PLSC 20, or PLSC 22*3PLSC 7N, 10, or 17N*3
World Language Level 34PLSC 400-level*3
General Education Quantification3General Education Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
General Education Course3BA Fields3
 16 15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PLSC 400-level*3PLSC 400-level*3
Related Course in Consultation with Adviser*3Related Course in Consultation with Adviser*3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
ENGL 202A, 202B, 202C, or 202D (GWS)3BA Fields3
BA Fields3Elective (WAC)3
 15 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PLSC 400-level*3PLSC 400-level*3
Related Course in Consultation with Adviser*3Elective3
Elective3Elective3
Elective (OC)3Elective3
Elective3General Health and Wellness (GHW)3
 15 15
Total Credits 123

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts students must take 9 credits in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Fields (Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts; World Languages [2nd language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the 1st]; Natural Sciences; Quantification). The B.A. Fields courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. See your adviser and the Degree Requirements section of this Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts students must take 3 credits in Other Cultures.
See your adviser and the full list of courses approved as Other Cultures courses.

Honors / Paterno Fellows Program: Political Science, B.A. at University Park Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PLSC 1*3PLSC 14*3
CAS 137H or ENGL 137H3CAS 138T or ENGL 138T3
General Education / Honors course3General Education / Honors course3
World Language Level 14World Language Level 24
General Quantification (GQ)3General Education course3
 16 16
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PLSC 3*3PLSC 7N or 17N*3
PLSC 309*3PLSC 400-level*3
General Education / Honors course3General Quantification (GQ)3
World Language Level 34General Education / Honors course3
General Education3BA requirement3
 16 15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PLSC 400-level*3PLSC 400-level*3
PLSC 300H or General Education / Honors course3PLSC 300H or General Education / Honors course3
BA requirement3ENGL 202A3
General Education3Other Cultures (OC) / Elective3
Writing Across the Curriculum / Elective course3Elective course3
 15 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PLSC 400-level*3PLSC 494H*3
PLSC 306*1.5PLSC 306*1.5
BA requirement3US Cultures (US) / Elective3
General Education / Honors course3Elective course3
Elective3Elective course3
General Health and Wellness (GHW)1.5General Health and Wellness (GHW)1.5
 15 15
Total Credits 123

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts students must take 9 credits in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Fields (Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts; World Languages [2nd language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the 1st]; Natural Sciences; Quantification). The B.A. Fields courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. See your adviser and the Degree Requirements section of this Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts students must take 3 credits in Other Cultures.
See your adviser and the full list of courses approved as Other Cultures courses.

Advising Note:

All incoming freshmen must take a First-Year Seminar (FYS) during Fall or Spring of their first year. Academic advisers can provide a list of FYS being offered and help the student enroll. Most FYS in the College of the Liberal Arts are worth 3 cr. and count as a General Humanities (GH) or General Social Sciences (GS) course. For this reason, the FYS is not listed separately on this eight-semester plan; most students will be able to fulfill the FYS requirement while also fulfilling a GH or GS requirement.

Political Science, B.A. at Commonwealth Campuses

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PLSC 1 (US)*3PLSC 14 (IL)*3
World Language Level 14World Language Level 24
General Education Quantification3General Education Course3
FYS/General Education Course3General Education Course3
ENGL 15, 30H, or ESL 15 (GWS)3CAS 100, 100A, 100B, or 100C (GWS)3
 16 16
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PLSC 3, PLSC 20, or PLSC 22*3General Education Course3
World Language Level 34General Education Course3
General Education Quantification3General Education Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course (GHW)3
General Education Course3Elective (WAC)3
 16 15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PLSC 7N, 10, or 17N*3PLSC 400-level*3
General Education Course3PLSC 400-level*3
ENGL 202A, 202B, 202C, or 202D (GWS)3Related Course in Consultation with Adviser*3
BA Fields3BA Fields3
Elective (OC)3Elective3
 15 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PLSC 400-level*3PLSC 400-level*3
PLSC 400-level*3Related Course in Consultation with Adviser3
Related Course in Consultation with Adviser*3Elective3
BA Fields3Elective3
Elective3Elective3
 15 15
Total Credits 123
 

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts students must take 9 credits in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Fields (Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts; World Languages [2nd language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the 1st]; Natural Sciences; Quantification). The B.A. Fields courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. See your adviser and the Degree Requirements section of this Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts students must take 3 credits in Other Cultures.
See your adviser and the full list of courses approved as Other Cultures courses.

Career Paths

Political Science is one of the most versatile majors in the liberal arts. The program provides students with an in-depth understanding of political issues while honing their ability to think critically and communicate persuasively. As a political science major, you will learn to conduct research and to evaluate information and assemble empirically supported arguments. These skills are necessary for success in a variety of careers, including law, public policy, lobbying, business, political campaigning, and government, as well as with non-profit organizations.

Careers

Penn State Political Science graduates are serving as advisers to the State Department; as attorneys and management specialists in the Department of Justice; as speech writers, lobbyists and policy analysts on Capitol Hill; and even in the United States Senate. Our alumni have built successful careers in business, and as lawyers, teachers, and journalists. Many are successful entrepreneurs, some work for NGOs, others are leaders of major corporations. You can learn from their experience through our alumni mentoring program.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT POTENTIAL CAREER OPTIONS FOR GRADUATES OF THE POLITICAL SCIENCE PROGRAM

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRADUATE STUDIES

Contact

University Park

DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
202 Pond Lab
University Park, PA 16802
814-865-4597
http://www.polisci.la.psu.edu/undergraduate/advising

http://www.polisci.la.psu.edu/

Altoona

DIVISION OF ARTS AND HUMANITIES
Smith Building C129I
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601
814-949-5782
mde15@psu.edu

http://altoona.psu.edu/academics/bachelors-degrees/political-science/request-information

Harrisburg

SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Olmsted Building, W160
Middletown, PA 17057
717-948-6648
pzd9@psu.edu

https://harrisburg.psu.edu/public-affairs/political-science-and-public-policy/bachelor-arts-political-science

World Campus

DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
220 Pond Lab
University Park, PA 16802
814-865-7515
ajh38@psu.edu

https://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/political-science-bachelors/overview