Why study political science?

Because political science advances our understanding of politics, power, governance, and public policy in the United States and across the globe.  In the broadest sense, political science is the study of governments and governmental procedures.  Political Science is as old as civilization, because people always have been interested in their government and in their leaders.  But political science as it is thought today, as one of the social sciences, is a comparatively new discipline.  It developed in the United States during the last century as political scientists developed an ability to make increasingly scientific observations of government.  Political scientists are concerned with origins and sources of governmental organizations, their growth, and their decline, as well as with the processes and structure of government. 
Ask yourself, Am I interested in public affairs?  Am I a good analytical and critical thinker?  Am I curious about the world and it's workings?  Do I communicate well orally and in writing?  Do I want to be a knowledgeable citizen?  Am I interested in the relationship between government and the people?  Am I curious about how decisions and made and how conflicts are resolved?

Undergraduate Admission

Admission to KU

All students applying for admission must send high school and college transcripts to the Office of Admissions. Unless they are college transfer students with at least 24 hours of credit, prospective students must send ACT or SAT scores to the Office of Admissions. Prospective first-year students should be aware that KU has qualified admission requirements that all new first-year students must meet to be admitted. Consult the Office of Admissions for application deadlines and specific admission requirements.

Visit the International Support Services for information about international admissions.

Students considering transferring to KU may see how their college-level course work will transfer on the Office of Admissions website.

Admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Admission to the College is a different process from admission to a major field. Some CLAS departments have admission requirements. See individual department/program sections for departmental admission requirements.

Requirements for the B.A. or B.G.S. Major

Political Science Core Knowledge and Skills
Majors must complete a course in each of the following areas:
Introduction to U.S. Politics. Satisfied by one of the following:
POLS 110Introduction to U.S. Politics3
or POLS 111 Introduction to U.S. Politics Honors
Introduction to Comparative or International Politics. Satisfied by one of the following:
POLS 150Introduction to Comparative Politics3
or POLS 151 Introduction to Comparative Politics Honors
or POLS 170 Introduction to International Politics
or POLS 171 Introduction to International Politics Honors
Diversity and Social Justice. Satisfied by one of the following:
POLS 301Introduction to Political Theory3
or POLS 302 Introduction to Political Theory, Honors
or POLS 308 Topics in Social Justice: _____
or POLS 501 Contemporary Political Thought
or POLS 612 Psychology in Politics
or POLS 630 Politics of Identity
or POLS 640 Politics of Reproductive Policy
or POLS 644 Justice and Public Policy in Democratic Societies
or POLS 674 Ethics in International Relations
or POLS 680 International Relations in Political Philosophy
or POLS 686 International Human Rights
Political Science Methods of Inquiry. Satisfied by:
POLS 306Political Science Methods of Inquiry3
Political Science Required Distribution of Electives
Majors must complete an elective course from at least 2 different subfields below.6
Political Philosophy & Empirical Theory
Satisfied by one of the following:
Contemporary Political Thought
Introduction to Political Theory
Introduction to Political Theory, Honors
History of Political Thought
Politics in Literature
Contemporary Feminist Political Theory
American Political Ideas
Democratic Theory
Religion and Political Theory
Modern Political Theory
Social Choice and Game Theory
Topics in Political Theory: _____
Political Polling and Survey Research
Justice and Public Policy in Democratic Societies
International Relations in Political Philosophy 1
U.S. Political Institutions & Processes
Satisfied by one of the following:
The Judicial Process
Latino Politics in the U.S.
American Political Parties
Public Opinion and American Democracy
Political Campaigns
Mass Media and Politics
Social Welfare, Taxation, and the Citizen 1
Constitutional Law: Governmental Powers
Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties
Psychology in Politics 1
Comparative U.S. State Politics
Urban Politics
Campaigns and Elections
Interest Group Politics
The Congress
The Presidency
Topics in American Politics: ______
Formulation of Public Policy 1
Politics of Identity
Corruption, Crisis and Scandal
Islam and Politics
Public Policy & Public Administration
Satisfied by one of the following:
Environmental Justice and Public Policy
Social Welfare, Taxation, and the Citizen 1
Formulation of Public Policy 1
Public Policy Analysis
Government and the Economy
The Politics of Social Policy
Environmental Politics and Policy
Extremist Groups and Government Response
The Politics of Public Health
Topics in Public Policy: __________
Bureaucratic Politics
Politics of Reproductive Policy
Foreign Governments & Comparative Politics
Satisfied by one of the following:
Comparative Environmental Politics
Liberation in Southern Africa
Women and Politics
Comparative Political Economy
Elections and Political Parties Around the World
Political Change in Asia
Contemporary Feminist Political Theory
The European Union
Justice and Public Policy in Democratic Societies
Palestinians and Israelis
Politics in Europe
Gender, War, and Peace
Politics and Government of Russia and the Central Eurasian States
Politics of East-Central Europe
Government and Politics of East Asia
Government and Politics of Southeast Asia
Theories of Politics in Latin America
Political Dynamics of Latin America
The Politics and Problems of Developing Countries
Politics of the Middle East
Politics in Africa
Political Economy of East Asia
Islam and Politics
Reform in Contemporary China
Topics in Comparative Politics: _____
International Relations
Satisfied by one of the following:
Psychology in Politics
Politics of the Middle East
United States Foreign Policy
International Cooperation
International Political Economy
International Organization
Ethics in International Relations
Russian Foreign Policy
International Relations of Asia
U.S. National Security Policy
Chinese Foreign Policy
International Conflict
International Relations in Political Philosophy (These courses (listed in 2 fields) will count for completion of only one field requirement.)
Comparative Foreign Policy
International Law: The State and the Individual
International Law: Laws of Armed Conflicts
Topics in International Relations:
Political Science Required Electives
Majors must complete 4 elective courses (12 hours), of which 3 courses (9 hours) must be upper-level courses.12
Capstone Experience
Recommended for majors but not required:
Directed Readings
Washington Semester Intern Seminar
Topeka Semester Intern Seminar
Washington Semester Field Work
Topeka Semester Field Work
Honors Thesis
Capstone Research/Field Work Experience

Honors Experience

Recommended for students with a minimum grade point average of 3.5 in Political Science coursework and 3.25 overall. These averages must be achieved before the final semester.

Major Hours & Major GPA

While completing all required courses, majors must also meet each of the following hour and grade-point average minimum standards:

Major Hours
Satisfied by 30 hours of major courses. A student may count no more than 6 hours toward the major from the following courses combined: POLS 493, POLS 494, POLS 495, POLS 496, POLS 497, or POLS 498.

Major Hours in Residence
Satisfied by a minimum of 15 hours of KU resident credit in the major.

Major Junior/Senior Hours
Satisfied by a minimum of 21 hours, of which 15 hours must be courses (400+) in the major.

Major Junior/Senior Graduation GPA
Satisfied by a minimum of a 2.0 KU GPA in junior/senior courses (300+) in the major. GPA calculations include all junior/senior courses in the field of study including F’s and repeated courses. See the Semester/Cumulative GPA Calculator.

A sample 4-year plan for the BA degree in Political Science can be found here: Political Science, or by using the left-side navigation.

A sample 4-year plan for the BGS degree in Political Science can be found here: Political Science, or by using the left-side navigation.

Departmental Honors


Undergraduate majors in the department with senior standing, a minimum 3.5 GPA in Political Science and a minimum 3.25 overall GPA are eligible to enroll in departmental honors work.  These GPA levels also must be achieved at the end of the candidates's final semester for both in-residence and combined work. 


Majors wishing to pursue the honors program must file a declaration of intent form with the department's Undergraduate Studies Coordinator no later than at enrollment for the final semester of undergraduate study. Normally students will be expected to enroll at the beginning of their senior year of study, for two consecutive semesters.

Students pursuing honors will enroll in POLS 498, Honors Thesis , with an individual faculty member who has agreed to serve as thesis adviser, thus accepting responsibility for directing the honors research project. Enrollment for 3 hours for two consecutive semesters in POLS 498 is usually expected. In unusual cases students may enroll for 6 hours in one semester, doing all the thesis work in that period.

3.Requirements for graduation with honors:

Completion of a written research project which has been read and approved by a committee of at least three members of the College faculty (of whom at least two must be political science faculty, including thesis advisor). The committee will then certify successful completion of the honors thesis enrollment. Work considered by the project director to be less than "A" quality will not be considered for honors and will not be presented to the committee for approval. The written report is expected to be more than an extended term paper, while something less than a graduate-level thesis. It must reflect analysis and perceptive understanding of the subject matter being studied.

4.Research timetable:

It is strongly recommended that students follow a relatively strict schedule in completing their research studies, in order to avoid having the honors oral examination come very late in the final semester.  The following timetable is recommended:

  1. A research design should be submitted by the middle of the first semester of enrollment.
    1. At the latest, the first draft of the written report should be completed approximately 2 months before the end of the semester in which honors are to be awarded (e.g., March 15, or October 15)
    2. At the latest, the final draft of the written report should be completed 1 month before the end of the semester in which honors are to be awarded.