1 Majoring in Political Science Program Chair Professor Charles Lipson
2 I m Charles Lipson Welcome Professor of Political Science Specialist in international politics I am the program chair, the faculty member in charge of the political science major.
3 Program Office: Pick 401 The department office is Pick 401, right next to the elevator. The key administer for the program has offices there: Kathy Anderson Kathy s contact information is
4 See Kathy Anderson for list and petitions Kathy sends out regular s to all majors. Has everybody here signed up for the political science majors list? She also has the forms you need to petition for courses. (I review all petitions.) If you have questions about the rules or need a form, check with Kathy (in Pick 401 or by e- mail)
5 Why Major in Political Science? Integral part of liberal arts education Flexible course selection One of the world s leading departments A gateway to multiple careers: Jobs business, government, journalism, education, non-profit organizations Professional school law, business, public policy, international relations PhD programs in social sciences
6 What is Political Science? Political science is the systematic study of how politics is organized and operates. It overlaps with other social sciences, especially economics and sociology The discipline is organized into 4 main subfields: A. Political Theory B. American Politics C. Comparative Politics D. International Relations
7 What Are the Requirements? Our major has 3 key elements: 1. You should sample several aspects of the field. 2. You should have flexibility in choosing courses. 3. You should write at least one major paper. That can be a BA Thesis or a long paper for a course.
8 Sampling Different Parts of the Field Sampling different aspects of political science means you should take courses in several subfields. Our rule is that you should take at least 1 course in 3 of the following subfields: A. Political Theory B. American Politics C. Comparative Politics D. International Relations Beyond that, you can choose whatever political science courses you wish. We re flexible.
9 How Many Courses Are Required for the Major? To major in political science, you need to complete 12 courses in the field. You must also write at least one longer paper (20 pages or more). That paper can be either a BA Thesis, or class paper
10 12 Courses Required for If you decide to write a thesis, you must take 10 regular political science courses, plus 1 senior colloquium for BA Thesis writers 1 tutorial course with the professor who supervises your BA Thesis = 12 courses BA Thesis Path We call this the BA Thesis path.
11 12 Courses Required for Long Paper Path If you decide not to write a BA Thesis, you need to Take 12 regular courses. Write at least one 20-page paper, which receives a grade of B or higher. (B minus is too low.) Do not take BA Colloquium or BA Thesis Supervision We call this the Long Paper Path.
12 12 Courses Required for Long Paper Path The 20-page paper can be written for a course or as a special project for a professor. For example, if you wrote a 15-page paper for a course, you can ask the professor if you can extend it version to meet the Long Paper requirement. You could do that in the course or afterward, depending on the professor.
13 When Do I Need to Decide If I ll Write a Thesis? Spring Quarter of your 3 rd Year. Until then, just take courses that interest you. If you are intrigued by one topic or subfield, take more courses and explore it. The courses will give you ideas for thesis topics. Try to get some experience writing papers. Researching and writing course papers will prepare you to research and write a BA Thesis. Now, let s discuss the rules in more detail.
14 An Overview of the Topics I ll Cover Subfield distribution requirement Petitioning to count courses outside the department to meet the major s requirements Transfer students Study Abroad Writing a BA Thesis Honors Writing a 20-page paper instead of a thesis Deadlines you need to know about Dual Majors Independent Study courses
15 Subfield Distribution Requirement To gain a broad understanding of political science, you need to take a wide range of courses. Our rule is that you must take at least 1 course in at least 3 subfields: A. Political Theory B. American Politics C. Comparative Politics D. International Relations For example, a course on Aristotle would be classified as Political Theory, which we call subfield A. The catalog identifies each course by its subfield. My experience: distribution issues are rarely a problem.
16 Subfield Distribution Requirement You can also satisfy the distribution requirement with courses outside the department, if you petition for them. For example, a petition might ask for a course from the philosophy department (or one in Paris) to be counted as meeting our subfield requirement in Political Theory. If the petition is approved, you have covered one of the three required subfields. The BA Colloquium and BA Supervision do not count toward any subfield. Now, let s discuss the petition process in more detail.
17 Petitioning for Courses In fulfilling the major s requirements, you can count up to 4 courses from outside the department. These can be courses from other departments or other universities. If you spend an entire year abroad, we will grant up to 5 petition courses. The basic criteria for approval: The courses must have political science content. They must use methods relevant to the study of political science. Fortunately, we use varied methods.
18 Petitioning for Courses: Our Pre-Approved List To simply this process, the department has a preapproved list of the petition courses online. Courses on this list do not need a written petition. But they do count toward your allotment of 4 petition courses outside the department. We also have a small pre-denied list, courses that are not approved. These include the civilization sequences and basic economics, such as micro-, macro-, labor economics, etc. Those are fine courses, just not political science
19 Petitioning for Courses Offered at Other Universities Students can also petition for courses not on the list, whether they are offered elsewhere at the University or by other institutions, in the U.S. or abroad. There are always a few new courses approved each quarter (sometimes one that are newly offered), so be sure to check the list periodically. For courses offered at other universities (in the US or abroad), petitions must first be approved by the Dean of Students office to count at the College.
20 What Should a Petition Include? A written petitions should include the Course name, number, and instructor The syllabus The petition should briefly explain why the course should count toward the political science requirement. The program chair will evaluate all petitions on a case-bycase basis.
21 When Should You Petition? Students may submit such petitions before enrolling in a course, soon after completing it, or later if they wish. Petitioning after you have finished a course is risky since there is no guarantee the petition will be approved. To avoid problems that could affect your graduation, we have instituted one new rule about course petitions: You may not submit any course petitions after week 2 in the quarter you expect to graduate. Reason for the new rule: if a petition were rejected later than week 2, you wouldn t have time to choose a different course, complete your department requirements, and graduate on schedule.
22 Petitioning for Transfer Students Students who transfer here from another university need two different approvals to transfer credits. 1. The Dean of Students Office deals with any credits needed to meet general University requirements, such as the total number of courses needed for graduation. You must secure this approval before petitioning the department. 2. The Political Science Department is involved only if a transfer student wishes to count some courses from another university to meet requirements in our major.
23 Petitioning for Transfer Students Our department s rules for transfer credits are the same as those for any other petition: up to 4 courses outside our department may be counted toward the major, if the petition is approved. The petition should include a complete description of the course. Tell us who taught the course and include the syllabus, if possible. It should be submitted as soon as the transfer student decides to major in political science here.
24 Petitioning to Transfer Credits from Another University Some students who are already enrolled at the University of Chicago wish to take courses at other universities, in the U.S. or abroad. To be on the safe side, they should consider petitioning before taking such courses. They can always petition after the course is completed, but that carries some risk since there is no guarantee the petition will be approved. Courses at other universities are approved only if they meet our departmental standards.
25 Credits for Foreign Study Students registered at the University who take courses abroad should petition the program chair for course credit within 1 quarter of their return to the University. The Office of the Dean of Students in the College must also approve the transfer of all courses from institutions that are not part of the University s study abroad program. Information on the study abroad program is available on the college Web site.
26 Petitioning for One-Semester and Two-Semester Courses The University has standard rules to transfer onesemester and two-semester courses. A one semester course equals one course here. A two-semester course equals three courses here (since both last a full academic year).
27 BA Thesis Path: 3 rd Year Students If you are thinking about writing a BA Thesis, you must attend a second meeting with me in Spring Quarter of your third year. This 2 nd meeting will focus on Methods for doing research Appropriate thesis topics Finding an adviser Other questions about writing a thesis You can begin by reading chapters 1-4 of my book, How to Write a BA Thesis.
28 BA Thesis Path: 3 rd Year Students By the end of eighth week of Spring Quarter, students who intend to write a BA thesis must have Completed a brief (1 or 2 page) proposal describing their topic Chosen a faculty adviser Gotten the adviser s written approval to supervise the project. The signed proposal must be filed with the department by the end of 8 th week, Spring Quarter.
29 BA Thesis Path: 3 rd Year Students Students who are not in residence during Spring Quarter should still write their proposal and, if possible, locate a thesis adviser by phone or . Out-of-residence students must contact the program chair before the end of the Spring Quarter and explain their BA plans. They still need to file a signed proposal.
30 Is the BA Thesis for Honors or Not? All political science majors are welcome to write a BA Thesis, whether they are eligible for honors or not. Researching and writing a thesis is valuable in its own right. Students who are eligible for honors (because of their high GPAs) normally have their theses evaluated for honors. However, they may choose to write it with a little less pressure and not submit it for honors. It s their choice. They don t need to make this choice until the quarter they intend to graduate.
31 Honors Students who have done exceptionally well in their courses and write an outstanding BA thesis are recommended for honors. Honors requires A BA Thesis approved for honors A GPA of 3.6 or higher in political science An overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
32 BA Thesis Path: 4 th Year Students All students writing a thesis, whether for honors or not, must sign up for 2 courses during their 4 th year: BA Colloquium (PS 298) BA Thesis Supervision (PS 299) These courses count toward the 12 course requirements. But they do not count toward the subfield distribution requirement.
33 BA Colloquium for 4 th Year Students The required BA Colloquium meets during the Autumn and Winter Quarters. This required course meets over two quarters but counts as a single course and has a single grade. You register for this course for one quarter, not two. You can choose whether to register for the Autumn or Winter. You must take this course to graduate with honors unless you are not at the university that quarter (or have special permission from the chair)
34 BA Colloquium for 4 th Year Students The BA Colloquium helps students carry out their thesis research and offers feedback on their progress. The colloquium meets weekly in Autumn and every other week in Winter. Students discuss the entire process of researching and writing a thesis, and they present their own work-in-progress. Although the course meets over two quarters, it counts as a single course and has a single grade.
35 BA Colloquium for 4 th Year Students The department runs several BA Colloquia, each emphasizing a different area of political science. Each is led by a BA Preceptor, an advanced graduate student in political science who specializes in that area. Besides the Colloquium, you will have regular, individual meetings with your faculty adviser. So you have 2 sources of help on your project: Your faculty adviser (can be in Pol Sci or not) Your BA Colloquium, led by the Preceptor.
36 BA Colloquium for 4 th Year Students Students who expect to be out of the country during Autumn or Winter of their 4 th year, or to graduate before the Spring quarter, must contact me in advance and make arrangements regarding the Colloquium requirement. We can accommodate you, but we need to know.
37 BA Thesis Supervision To encourage regular meetings with your faculty adviser, you must register for PS 299, BA Thesis Supervision, during one quarter of your 4 th year. You will meet with your faculty supervisor all year long, but you only register for one quarter. The form for registering is at the College advisers office. Your final grade for this course is the grade your faculty adviser gives the BA Thesis.
38 Deadlines: 3 rd Year Students who want to write a BA thesis must Write a brief proposal Find a faculty adviser Have the professor sign the proposal. The signed proposal is due in Pick 401, at the end of 8 th week, Spring Quarter. If you are not writing a BA Thesis, there are no deadlines during the 3 rd Year.
39 Deadlines: 4 th Year BA Theses and Long Papers must be approved in the quarter you intend to graduate. Specific dates are available in the college catalog and on our Web site.
40 Can You Switch Paths, from the BA Yes. Thesis to the Long Paper? During your 4 th year, you can still choose to write a 20-page paper instead of the BA Thesis. That is, you can switch even if you have begun the BA Colloquium and BA Thesis Supervision. If you do switch, however, you will need to complete the required 12 courses for the Long Paper Path. With the chair s permission, you might be able to get a grade for one of the two courses (the Colloquium or Thesis Supervision), but not both. To receive a grade, you will need to complete a writing assignment.
41 Double Majors Students sometimes choose to major in another subject alongside political science. Among the most popular for our double majors: International Studies History Economics Public policy But we have had double majors in other fields ranging from classics to biology. Double majors can pursue either the BA Thesis Path or Long Paper Path Let s discuss each path for double majors.
42 Double Majors: BA Path If you intend to write a BA Thesis in political science, you must attend our department s BA Colloquium even if your other major requires attendance at its colloquium. You may choose to write separate theses for each department or one thesis to meet both requirements. If you write a single thesis for both departments, you need to fill out a form, available from the College adviser s office, and have it signed by the program chairs in both departments. To receive honors in political science, the BA thesis must be approved by our department at the honors level.
43 Double Majors: Long Paper Path A double major can also meet the political science requirements by taking 12 courses and writing a 20-page paper. A BA thesis submitted in another department can qualify as the 20 page paper for political science.
44 Independent Study A few students who have done extensive coursework in political science may wish to pursue more specialized topics, not covered by regular courses. If a faculty member is willing to supervise them, they may register for an Independent Study (PS 297). An Independent Study requires advance approval from the course instructor and the program chair. College Adviser s office has an approval form.
45 Independent Study Only one Independent Study may count toward the major s requirements. The Independent Study does count toward your subfield distribution requirement. The Independent Study cannot be related to the BA thesis. Such thesis research is covered by a different course, PS 299 (BA Thesis Supervision).
46 One More Meeting If you are thinking about writing a BA Thesis, there s one more meeting. I will meet with 3 rd Year students in the Spring. At that meeting, I will Go over the thesis requirements Offer some ideas about finding a topic and an adviser An will give you details. Be sure you are signed up for the list.
47 Any Questions? I hope I have addressed your main questions and concerns about majoring in political science. I m happy to answer any other questions you have.
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