Students majoring in political science are required to complete 12 courses, all with grades of C- or better.
The major consists of two introductory courses, seven electives (including a subfield area of concentration), a senior capstone course, and two cognate courses. Majors must fulfill the following requirements:
Introductory Courses: Two courses at the 100 level, preferably taken by the end of the sophomore year (100-level courses are not open to seniors).
Electives: Seven courses at the 200 and 300 levels that meet the following three conditions:
At least five of these courses must be at the 300 level, one of which must be a sophomore/junior seminar or tutorial.
Three courses from a single subfield concentration (American government and politics, comparative politics, international relations, or political theory), two of which must be at the 300 level.
POLS 241, POLS 242, ECON 318, ANTH 301, SOCL 201, PBPL 220, HIST 300 or two methodologically focused courses, taken before the senior seminar or senior thesis.
Cognate Courses: Two cognate courses (in subfield area of concentration, to be selected in consultation with adviser).
For breadth in the discipline, students must complete one course in each of the four subfields (the senior capstone course does not count).
Senior Capstone: One senior seminar or the completion of a senior thesis (400 level). (The senior capstone course fulfills the Writing Intensive Part II requirement.)
Although some courses are included in more than one area of concentration, a single course may not be used to fulfill more than one distribution requirement.
Any political science major, regardless of GPA, can apply to the department to write a senior thesis by submitting a thesis proposal. Honors in the major will be awarded to students with both (1) a GPA of 3.67 or greater in the major and (2) an A- or better on the thesis.
All senior theses will be two-semester, two-credit theses. In the first semester, students will enroll in a thesis colloquium. In the second, students will continue to write independently in consultation with their advisers. The senior thesis colloquium will fulfill the senior capstone course requirement, though thesis students are still welcome to enroll in a senior seminar. Thus, the colloquium counts among the 12 credits required for the major, while the spring semester of the thesis must be taken in addition to the 12 credits.
The thesis proposal will be due in May of the junior year. Juniors studying abroad may request an extension for submitting the proposal, but the proposal must be submitted and approved by early September, in time to enroll in the fall thesis colloquium.
In the thesis proposal, students may apply for funding to support their research. Typical awards will range up to $1,500.
AP/IB credit: The Department does not recognize AP credit toward the minimum 10 course major requirement; however, a minimum score of 4 on the AP exam in American Government allows entry into upper level American politics courses that have POLS 102 as a prerequisite.
Internships: There are a range of internships students in the major may pursue for credit. Although internships supervised by POLS faculty do not count toward the POLS credit requirement, there is one exception—the Legislative Internship Program. Through this unique program, students may earn POLS major credits for their participation.
The Trinity College Legislative Internship is a special program designed for those students who want to observe politics and government firsthand. Student interns work full time for individual legislators and are eligible for up to four course credits, three for a letter grade and one pass/fail. One of the graded credits is a political science credit. In addition to working approximately 35 to 40 hours per week for a legislator, each intern participates in a seminar in which interns present papers and discuss issues related to the legislative process. Although there are no prerequisite courses for enrollment in this program, preference will be given to juniors and seniors. Students majoring in areas other than political science are encouraged to apply. Candidates for this program, which is limited to 14 students, should contact the Political Science Department in April or September. The program will accommodate some students who wish to work part time (20 hours per week) for two graded course credits.
Study away: Students are encouraged to take advantage of appropriate study-abroad programs, for which the
department will grant up to two credits toward the major. Students who study abroad for a full year at approved
study-away sites may transfer up to three courses for the major. There is, however, no limit on credits from the
Rome program, as it is considered part of the Trinity campus.
Research Methods: Students are required to fulfill a methods requirement by taking one of the following courses: POLS 241, POLS 242, ECON 318, ANTH 301, SOCL 201, PBPL 220 or HIST 300. They can also fulfill the requirement by taking two methodologically focused courses, taken before the senior seminar or senior thesis.
Honors: Honors in the major will be awarded to students with both (1) a GPA of 3.67 or greater in the major and (2) an A- or better on the thesis.