Politics & Government | Academic Advising Handbook

The first step in considering a major in Politics and Government is to speak with one of the department’s faculty members. If you don’t know where to start, contact the Department Chair, Professor Jules Boykoff, at boykoff@pacificu.edu

Major Requirements

A major in Politics and Government requires courses inside of the department, as well as a variety of electives that total 34 credits. 

6 required Credit Hours in POLS:

·       POLS 140 or 180 (4 credits)

·       POLS 497 (fall senior year) (2 credits)

28 Additional Credit Hours in POLS courses that include the following:

Must include credits in three of the following four areas: American Politics, International Politics, Political Philosophy, or Public Law. Along the way, students must also complete at least one course in the Research in the Discipline category. Also, students must complete three additional upper-division courses.

·       One upper-division course in American Politics (4 credits)

·       One upper-division course in International Politics (4 credits)

·       One course in Political Philosophy (4 credits)

·       One course in Public Law (4 credits)

Along the way, students must take at least one course from the Research in the Discipline category (see list of course below).

·       16 other credits, at least 12 of which are upper-division (16 credits)

Courses that fulfill the area requirements (American, International, Philosophy, Public Law) above are as follows:

American Politics

International Politics

Political Philosophy

Public Law
  • 301
  • 302
  • 304
  • 306
  • 321
  • 322
  • 324
  • 231
  • 340
  • 345
  • 209
  • 286
  • 386
  • 206
  • 325
  • 326

Research in the Discipline: 4 Credits

Complete at least one of the following courses. This fulfills the Writing in the Discipline requirement for the major.

  • Politics and the Media (POLS 301) 4 credit(s)

  • Parties & Elections (POLS 302) 4 credit(s)

  • Community Politics (POLS 304) 4 credit(s)

  • Congress and the Presidency (POLS 306) 4 credit(s)

  • Politics, Media, and Sports (POLS 353) 4 credit(s)

  • Security, Rights, & Globalization (POLS 340) 4 credit(s)

  • International Political Economy (POLS 345) 4 credit(s)

  • Race & American Political Thought (POLS 386) 4 credit(s)

Introductory Courses: After one has taken a 100- or 200-level course in the department, a student should be able to handle any 300-level course. For any students who have never had a political science course, we strongly recommend talking with the instructor prior to registering. 

Requirements for the Minor

·       At least one course in American Politics at 300-level (4 credits)

·       At least one course in International Politics at 300-level (4 credits)

·       POLS electives, at least 4 credits of which must be at the upper-division level (12 credits)

TOTAL: 20 credits

Internships and Study Abroad

Students are strongly encouraged to pursue an internship or study abroad and should plan to have those experiences in their sophomore or first semester of their junior year. Students interested in internships are encouraged to speak with any member of the department for help; those interested in study abroad should see Professor Jeff Seward; and those interested in law school should consult with Professor Paul Snell.

Timing for Internships and Study Abroad

We encourage our students to do internships and to study abroad. However, timing is key. The optimal time for students to do this is during their sophomore year or the fall semester of their junior year. While planning to do an internship or to study abroad, it is important that students remember that we have a three-course thesis sequence that begins in the spring semester of junior year and concludes in the spring semester of senior year: POLS 399 (junior year, spring semester), POLS 498 (senior year, fall semester), and POLS 499 (senior year, spring semester). In rare instances, students could study abroad to the spring of their senior year, but this would entail making special arrangements in advance for the public presentation of their senior thesis. We have done this in the past, so it is possible, but it does require planning.

A Four-Year Schedule for the Major

Below is simply one example of many that a student could follow in pursuit of a POLS degree. We have had many students who did not begin to focus on POLS until the end of their sophomore year.

Years One and Two:

·       POLS 140 and/or POLS 180

·       POLS 200 Level on Political Philosophy

·       POLS 200 Level elective

·       Study Abroad in Spring of Sophomore Year

o   If studying abroad for all of junior year, consider POLS 399 spring sophomore year

Year Three

·       300 level POLS courses for major requirements

·       Consider Internship

·       Study Abroad in Fall of Junior Year

Year Four

·       POLS 497, the Senior Seminar in Fall

·       300 level POLS courses for major requirements

·       Consider Internship


Transfer Students & Changing Majors to Politics & Government

The courses that transfer students must take in order to complete a Politics and Government major in two years will depend on the coursework that each student has taken previously. The following plan assumes that a student has completed, with transferable credits, either Introduction to US Politics or Introduction to World Politics prior to beginning the junior year.

Junior year


• Upper-Division US Politics course

• Political Philosophy or Public Law course

• POLS elective (any level)



• Upper-Division International Politics course

• Upper-Division POLS elective


Senior year


• POLS 497: Senior Seminar



• POLS elective (upper-division)


Annual Class Planning Guide

This planning guide shows the predicted offerings for certain courses in this program. Use the guide to help you think about future terms. For a list of classes currently offered and how they fulfill core requirements, please see BoxerOnline and cross-reference this page as needed. Meet with your advisor and/or reach out to the department if you have questions.

Course number

Course name





POLS 140

Introduction to U.S. Politics




Every year

POLS 180

The United States in World Affairs




Every year

POLS 209

Ideas in Action: Pol Phil & Modern Soc





POLS 212

Conservatism & Its Critics





POLS 213

Socialism & Its Critics





POLS 221

Politics in Literature & Film





POLS 224

Environmental Politics




Every other year

POLS 231

Contemporary Middle East




4-unit variant

POLS 232

Current Events in the Middle East




Every other year

POLS 239

Latin America I: Conquest-Independence





POLS 241

Latin America II: Independence-Present





POLS 255

New Topics





POLS 275






POLS 295

Independent Study





POLS 301

Politics and The Media




Every other year

POLS 302

Parties and Elections




Every other year

POLS 304

Community Politics




Taught occasionally (when Moore rotation changes in the future)

POLS 306

Presidency and Congress




Every other year

POLS 310

Markets, Politics & Justice





POLS 321

Protest, Dissent, & Social Change




Every other year, see department

POLS 322

  The Suppression of Dissent




Sometimes offered in Fall or Spring as well

POLS 323

Politics & Policing




Every third year

POLS 325

Constitutionalism I




Every other year

POLS 326

Constitutionalism II




Every other year

POLS 330

National Systems & Global Challenges





POLS 331

Modern Dictatorship





POLS 340

Security, Rights & Globalization




Every other year

POLS 345

International Political Economy




Every other year

POLS 350

Special Topics in Political Science





POLS 351

Social Policy & Social Justice





POLS 352 Politics and Sports     X Every other year
POLS 353 Politics, Media, and Sports     X Every other year

POLS 355

New Topics





POLS 386

Race and U.S. Political Thought




Every third year 

POLS 395

Independent Study





POLS 475






POLS 495

Independent Research





POLS 497

Senior Seminar