Major in Political Science (BS)


The requirements for the BS in political science are similar to those for the BA degree, but with additional prerequisites and tools of analysis requirements. See other pages for information on declaring the major, for advisors and their office hours, for year-by-year course recommendations and examples, and for a handy checklist of requirements for the major.

Students must take at least 15 courses (not counting prerequisites), achieving a minimum overall GPA of 2.0 in these courses. At least 12 of these 15 courses must be listed as INTR or PSCI. None of the 15 courses may be taken on an S/F basis.

Prerequisite Courses

Students must take two semesters of a calculus sequence and either a programming course or a course in linear algebra. Students should plan on taking prerequisite courses during their first-year and sophomore years, but on completing them no later than the end of their junior year.

Take two courses in one of the following calculus sequences:

  • MATH 141 - 143: Calculus I, II, & III
  • MATH 161 - 162: Calculus IA & IIA
  • MATH 171 - 172: Honors Calculus I & II

Take one of the following courses:

  • CSC 161: Introduction to Programming
  • MATH 165: Linear Algebra and Differential Equations

Note that a prerequisite of MATH 165 is a full calculus sequence. MATH 161/162 and 171/172 are full sequences. BS degree students interested in taking MATH 165 and the MATH 14X calculus option must take MATH 141, 142, and 143.

Tools of Political Analysis (Five Courses)

Students must take two courses in data analysis and statistics, two courses in modeling, and a course in argument. At least one of the courses in statistics or modeling must be taken at the 3XX, 4XX, or 5XX level. Courses used to satisfy tools of political analysis cannot also be used to satisfy requirements for the core track, breadth, or electives.

Students must take PSCI 202W: Argument in Political Science.

Take two of the following courses in data analysis and statistics:

  • PSCI 200: Data Analysis I
  • PSCI 205: Data Analysis II (Prerequisite: PSC 200 or similar statistics course)
  • PSCI 404: Probability and Inference
  • PSCI 405: Causal Inference
  • PSCI 505: Maximum Likelihood + Topics
  • PSCI 507: Experiments in Political Science

Take two of the following courses in modeling:

  • PSCI 107: Intro to Positive Political Theory
  • PSCI 280: Intermediate Positive Political Theory
  • PSCI 281: Formal Models in Political Science
  • PSCI 282: Making Public Policy
  • PSCI 288: Game Theory
  • PSCI 407: Mathematical Modeling
  • PSCI 408: Positive Political Theory
  • PSCI 584: Game Theory

Core Track (Five Courses from One Track)

Breadth (Two Courses)

Select two track courses that are not in your core track.

Electives (Three Courses)

Courses may be drawn from any offerings in the six tracks or any other courses in PSCI, INTR, ECON, HIST, or PHIL. Courses from fields other than these can be used only with special approval from the director of undergraduate studies.

Upper-Level Writing

Select any two W-designated courses in INTR or PSCI. Included in the 15 courses listed above. No more than one of these courses may be used to satisfy the writing requirement in a second or third major.

Team Learning

Select at least one team learning course. Included in the 15 courses listed above. Options include research seminars, experiential learning, supervised teaching, independent study, directed research, senior honors project, and internships.

Additional Guidelines

Introductory Courses

No more than four introductory courses can be counted toward the major. In most departments, all 100-level courses are considered introductory. The exceptions are courses offered by the Department of History. In history, only the following courses are defined as introductory: HIST 102, HIST 103, HIST 140, HIST 141, HIST 150, HIST 151, HIST 160, and HIST 161.

Transfer Credit

All transfer courses subject to advisor approval. Transfer courses may not be used to satisfy the following requirements: tools of political analysis, upper-level writing, or team learning. No more than two transfer courses may be used toward the core track. No more than three transfer courses may be used toward the major. Internships count as one course toward the major, even if students receive more than four credits in the internship toward general degree requirements. PSCI/INTR 394A: European Political Internship is not a transfer course; it is treated like a course taught in residence at the University of Rochester. Credit is not granted for online courses.

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate

Students who receive a grade of 4 or 5 on the AP exam in either American or Comparative Government or a grade of 5, 6, or 7 on the Higher Level IB exam in Global Politics will be granted four credits in the major. Students who take more than one exam are not eligible for additional credit. This credit is considered elective, introductory, and transfer.

Overlap Policy

Students are reminded that they are subject to the College's "overlap policy" with respect to double majors and a major and minor. The policy applies to all students in the College. No more than three courses may overlap between any two majors, and no more than two courses may overlap between a minor and either a major or another minor. If a cross-listed course (such as PSCI/ECON 288) is listed under two majors, it counts toward the overlap limit even if it is listed under the political science number in one case and a cross-listed number in the other case.