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Department of Political Science

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Major in Political Science

Effective Fall 2015, Vanderbilt University has introduced a new course catalog numbering scheme. For assistance with the translation between old and new numbers, please consult the Course Renumbering Lookup Tool.

Students majoring in Political Science are required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of work, distributed as follows (see the Undergraduate Catalog for course descriptions):

Areas of Concentration Hours Required
Political Science
(100, 101, 102, 103 or 150)
6 hours
Political Theory
(202, 203, 204, 205, 207, 207W, 208, 209, 253, 257, 258, 263, 264W, 270, 271, 286)
3 hours
Comparative Politics
(210, 211, 213, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 228, 230, 233, 234, 235, 236, 238, 239, 270, 272W, 284)
3 hours
International Politics
(211, 220, 221, 222, 223, 225, 226, 228, 229, 236, 270, 272W, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 285)
3 hours
American Government and Politics
(240, 241, 243, 244, 245, 247, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 259, 260, 262, 265, 266, 267, 268, 270, 283)
3 hours
(Any 200 level course listed above; 287, 288; one additional 100 level course, including 115F; up to six hours of 280b, 280c, 289a, 289b, 291a, 291b, 299a, 299b combined)
12 hours

In meeting the above requirements, students should develop a specialty within one of the four subfields of Political Theory, Comparative Politics, International Politics, or American Government by taking the introductory 100-level course in that subfield, and at least three 200-level courses in that subfield.  It is recommended that one of those 200-level courses in the subfield selected by each major should be a seminar. 

Graduate Courses

Qualified undergraduates may enroll in graduate courses with the consent of their adviser, the course instructor, and the Dean of the Graduate School.

To Declare Your Major in Political Science

Please come by the departmental office (355 Commons Center) to learn how to be assigned an adviser. You can also obtain the two Major Declaration forms (3 if you are double majoring) at that time. Once your new adviser has signed all of the Major Declaration forms, leave one in 355 Commons Center, and take the other to the A&S Registrar's Office in Kirkland 311 (If you are double majoring, the third Declaration form goes to the department office for the second major.) If you have questions about this process or anything else related to declaring your major, please don't hesitate to ask.

  • Interim Chair of the Department — Dave Lewis, 333 Commons Center
  • Associate Chair of the Department — Jonathan Hiskey, 339 Commons Center
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies  — Carrie Russell, 324 Commons Center
  • Administrative Assistant — Tina Bembry, 355 Commons Center

All of the above can be reached at 322-6222. You can find a Declaration of Major form here.

The University reserves the right, through its established procedures, to modify the requirements for admission and graduation and to change other rules, regulations, and provisions, including those stated in this electronic document and other publications, and to refuse admission to any student, or to require the withdrawal of a student if it is determined to be in the interest of the student or the University. All students, full- or part-time, who are enrolled in Vanderbilt courses are subject to the same policies.

Exit Exams for Graduating Political Science Majors

The current Undergraduate Catalog says the following (regarding the requirements for Political Science majors):

"In order to graduate with a political science major, students must take a brief exam within the subfield in which they are most interested during their senior year.  Students are to take this exam in the fall of their senior year (students who are on leave or are studying abroad should schedule the exam upon their return to campus). The exam is not graded, and no grade will appear on the student's transcript.  The purpose of the exam is to ascertain the extent to which political science majors are retaining core aspects of the political science curriculum."

This required exam for graduating political science majors is scheduled at several times for students to choose which works best with their schedules.

Spring 2015 Comprehensive Exam dates:

  • Monday, February 16, 2015, from 1:00 - 1:30 pm, in CMC 335
  • Tuesday, February 17, 2015, from 1:30 - 2:00 pm, in CMC 335
  • Tuesday, February 24, 2015, from 1:30 - 2:00 pm, in CMC 335

Click here to sign up for an exam time.

Students should bring their Commodore ID number and a pencil with an eraser to the exam. Questions about the exam can be directed to Carrie Russell, Director of Undergraduate Studies. The exams will be held in Commons classroom 335.



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