Major Requirements

Declare Pre-Political Science

  1. Students must complete two of the following lower division courses at UCSB and earn a 2.6 GPA average in those courses. Courses must be taken for a letter grade:
  • PS 1 Introduction to Political Philosophy
  • PS 6 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • PS 7 Introduction to International Relations
  • PS 12 American Government and Politics
  • PS 15 Introduction to Research in Political Science.
  1. Complete a Change of Major petition. Fill out this form, except for the Department chair's signature, and return it to the advising office in 3838 Ellison Hall. The Department's Peer Advisors will review the form and obtain the chair's signature on your behalf. Double majors must also submit a Memo of Understanding.  Admission to the pre-major does not guarantee admission to the full major.   

**TRANSFER STUDENTS who have officially declared Political Science with the UCSB Office of Admissions are admitted as Pre-Political Science majors.  This does not guarantee admittance to the full major.  Please see below for instructions on how to declare the full major.
Transfer Student Power Point 

Declare Political Science 

  1. In order to declare the full major, students must complete all the lower division courses listed above with a 2.6 GPA average in those courses. (**TRANSFER STUDENTS: Only courses taken at UCSB will be calculated into the GPA requirement. Some exceptions may apply.)  
  2. All courses must be taken for a letter grade. 
  3. Economics 1 (Principles of Economics-Micro) and Economics 2 (Principles of Economics-Macro) OR Economics 9 (Introduction to Economics) are required.  Economics courses are not factored into the required 2.6 GPA for lower division political science courses.  However, they will be calculated into the overall major GPA.  
  4. Complete a Change of Major PetitionFill out this form, except for the Department chair's signature, and return it to the advising office in 3838 Ellison Hall. The Department's Peer Advisors will review the form and obtain the chair's signature on your behalf.  Double majors must also submit a Memo of Understanding.

Upper Division Requirements

Students do not have to complete lower division requirements before enrolling in upper division courses.  Those with upper division standing may simultaneously enroll in lower division and upper division political science courses.  Majors in political science are required to complete 40 upper division units distributed over a minimum of three subfields.  All courses must be taken for a letter grade. 

A. CONCENTRATION: 5 courses (20 units) must be completed in one concentration area. Choose ONE of the four subfields below:

  • American Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Political Theory. 

B. SECOND SUBFIELD: 1 course (4 units) chosen from  a second subfield

C. THIRD SUBFIELD: 1 course (4 units) choses from a third subfield

D. ELECTIVES: 3 elective courses (12 units) from any of the four subfields.  (Majors are limited to a maximum of 6 courses in the core concentration.)

Petitioning Upper Division Courses

Upper division courses taken in other departments and from outside universities may be petitioned for credit toward the upper division requirements of the major.  In some cases, lower division courses may be petitioned as well.  All petitions are reviewed by the Undergraduate Program Coordinator and forwarded to the College of Letters and Science for final approval.  Please include a syllabus when petitioning a course from an outside department or university.  Course Petitions may be submitted in person to 3838 Ellison Hall or via email to advising@polsci.ucsb.edu.

Independent Study (PS 99, PS 199 or PS 199A)

Lower division Pre-Political Science and Political Science majors interested in completing an independent study course for PS 99 must have:

  • Freshman or Sophmore status
  • a 3.0 GPA in the major and in all course work at UCSB for the prior three quarters to their application for PS 99 enrollment
  • Come up with a plan of study and project description in collaboration with a supervising instructor
  • obtain approval from the instructor and the Undergraduate Program Coordinator

After obtaining instructor approval, students must submit an Independent Study Petition for PS 99 to the advising office in 3838 Ellison Hall.  Students are limited to 5 units per quarter, with no more than 8 units applied toward the major.  Petitions must be received by Wednesday of Week 2 for fall, winter, or spring quarter.

Junior and Senior Political Science majors and pre-majors interested in completing an independent study or research course for PS 199 or PS 199A must have:

  • Junior or Senior status
  • a 3.0 GPA in all major and UCSB coursework for the last three quarters.
  • Come up with a plan of study and project description in collaboration with a supervising instructor
  • obtain approval from the instructor and the Undergraduate Program Coordinator

After obtaining instructor approval, students must submit an Independent Study Petition for PS 199/199RA to the advising office in 3838 Ellison Hall.  Students are limited to 5 units per quarter, with no more than 8 units applied toward the major.  Petitions must be received by Wednesday of Week 2 for fall, winter, or spring quarter.

Learning Objectives for Political Science Majors

Undergraduate Forms and Petitions 

Required Lower Division courses
Requirements for Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
Change of Major Petition 
Memo of Understanding for Double Majors 
Course Petition 
PS 99 Independent Study Petition for Freshman/Sophmores
PS 199/199RA Independent Study or Research Petition for Juniors/Seniors