Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

The major offers a solid undergraduate education in political and social science.

Graduates are prepared for careers in government organizations, interest groups, political parties, political consulting, lobbying organizations, campaign management, political polling, media and journalism and pre-law education for law school. Other career options include legal professions, international businesses, multinational corporations, international organizations, etc.

All these careers require knowledge and skills in political analysis, communication, writing, research and evaluation; the conceptual ability to develop logical arguments about political and policy issues; the ability to collect relevant evidence to support arguments; independent and critical thinking, tolerance and informed participation in domestic and international affairs; the ability to define a problem, investigate it and contribute to its solution in a variety of employment settings as mentioned above.

These elements characterize the major and courses in Political Science. In today’s employment market, college graduates can expect to change jobs a number of times and to have more than one career. Political science is excellent preparation for the flexibility required in this modern employment market.

Professor Ron Hayduk teaching and referring to monitor
Student speaking with hand out in front of her

Four Areas of Specialization/Subfields

American Politics

The study of American Politics encourages students to engage with the problems, politics and policies that surround them, whether that be at City Hall, the state capital in Sacramento or in Washington, D.C.

Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics is the study of politics and political dynamics in countries around the world and studies a huge range of subjects: democracies and democratization, nationalism, social movements, comparative legal systems, authoritarianism, regime change and more.

Political Theory

Political Theory seeks to critically interrogate some of the key concepts and assumptions of political science. We also focus on comparative political theory, critical theory, environmental theory, Anglo-American theory, rhetoric and post-structuralism.

Public Law

Public Law is the law that governs the public sector — the law that governs government. The courses include Judicial Process, Legal Issues, Jurisprudence, Moot Court, four Constitutional Law classes and the Senior Public Law seminar.

For Majors Declared Fall 2020 and After

The Political Science Major Requires:

  • 6 core courses including 1 GWAR writing course
  • 3 breadth courses
  • 1 culminating experience course
  • Electives to reach at least 42 units

(For a course to count towards the Political Science major, students must earn a grade of C- or better in all core, GWAR, breadth and culminating experience courses.)

Core Requirements

  • PLSI 200: Intro to American Politics (3 Units)
  • PLSI 250: Intro to Comparative Politics (3 Units)
  • PLSI 275: Intro to Political Theory (3 Units)
  • PLSI 302 GWAR Writing for Political Science (4 Units)
  • PLSI 303 Fundamentals of Political Science (2 units)
  • PLSI 304: Scientific Inquiry in Political Science (4 Units) * Formerly PLSI 300

Total units for the PLSI core: 19

Upper-division Breadth Requirements

Three upper-division courses, representing work across the discipline. Take one course in three of the following subfields:

  •   American Politics
  •   Comparative Politics
  •   Political Theory
  •   Public Law

Total breadth units: 9 – 12*

*All PLSI upper-division breadth courses are 4 units. The unit variation is due to several 3-unit cross-listed courses in political theory that may be used towards breadth.

View which courses count for what breadth field on the "Course" tab on the left.

Senior Culminating Experience Requirements

One of the following must be taken in the senior year:

  • PLSI 602: Senior Seminar: Politics As Story. (3 Units)
  • PLSI 605: Senior Seminar: Student's Choice Empirical Research Project (4 Units)
  • PLSI 606: Senior Seminar in American Politics (3 Units)
  • PLSI 607: Senior Seminar in Comparative Politics (3 Units)
  • PLSI 608: Senior Seminar in Political Theory (3 Units)
  • PLSI 609: Senior Seminar in Public Law (3 Units)
  • PLSI 613: Senior Seminar: The Politics of Harry Potter. (3 Units)
  • PLSI 614: The Politics of Abortion in the United States. (3 Units)

Total Culminating Experience units: 3 – 4

Electives

Electives in the major are courses taken in addition to the requirements listed above and usually have a PLSI prefix. A maximum of three units of electives may be lower-division. Up to four units of coursework in closely related departments may be counted towards the major, upon consultation with a PLSI advisor.

Total elective units: 7-11 units (enough to reach 42 units)

Total units for the Bachelor of Arts in Political Science: 42

Complementary Studies

Twelve units of complementary studies are required of all candidates for the B.A. degree in Political Science. These units come from any courses bearing a prefix other than PLSI. In addition, they may not be cross-listed with Political Science. Four of the twelve Complementary Studies units may count toward the major as elective units, if they are taken within closely related departments such as International Relations.

For Majors Declared Prior to Fall 2020

The Department of Political Science has revised its major requirements. These new requirements will be effective for all political science majors beginning our program or declaring the major fall of 2020 and after. For majors declared prior to this, please see refer to these requirements.

The Political Science Major Requires:

  • 4 core courses
  • 3 breadth courses
  • 1 GWAR writing-emphasis course
  • 1 culminating experience course
  • Electives to reach at least 40 units

(For a course to count towards the Political Science major, students must earn a grade of C- or better in all core, GWAR, breadth and culminating experience courses.)

Core Requirements

  • PLSI 200: American Politics (3 Units)
  • PLSI 250: Comparative Politic (3 Units)
  • PLSI 275: Introduction to Political Theory (3 Units)
  • PLSI 304: Scientific Inquiry in Political Science (4 Units) * Formerly PLSI 300

Total Core Units: 13

Breadth Requirements

Three upper-division courses, representing work across the discipline. Take one course in three of the following subfields (the breadth courses are listed below, under these four headings):

  • American Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • Political Theory
  • Public Law

Total breadth units: 9 – 12

View which courses count for what breadth field on the "Course" tab on the left.

GWAR Requirement

One Political Science (PLSI) GWAR course must be taken. The GWAR (writing emphasis) course must be taken in the Political Science department, even if a student has completed a GWAR course in another department.

GWAR units: 3

Culminating Experience Requirements

One of the following must be taken in the senior year (beginning with the freshman class of fall 2015):

  • PLSI 605: Senior Seminar: Student's Choice Empirical Research Project (4 Units)
  • PLSI 606: Senior Seminar in American Politics (3 Units)
  • PLSI 607: Senior Seminar in Comparative Politics (3 Units)
  • PLSI 608: Senior Seminar in Political Theory (3 Units)
  • PLSI 609: Senior Seminar in Public Law (3 Units)
  • PLSI 612: Senior Seminar-Study Abroad* (3 or 4 Units)

*Either a course that is taught by a SF State Political Science professor abroad or an equivalent study-abroad course designated and approved in advance by an adviser.

Total Culminating Experience units: 3 – 4

Electives

Electives in the major are courses taken in addition to the requirements listed above and usually have a PLSI prefix. However, in some cases, with prior approval by an adviser, up to eight units may be taken in related departments. A maximum of three units of electives may be lower-division (with course number less than 300).

Total elective units: 7 – 13

Total units for the Bachelor of Arts in Political Science: 40

Complementary Studies

Twelve units of complementary studies are required of all candidates for the B.A. degree in Political Science. These units must come from courses bearing a prefix other than PLSI and that are not cross-listed with Political Science. Students can also satisfy this requirement by completing a related minor, a secondary major, or through an approved study-abroad program.

Complementary studies courses should have a direct bearing on the study of politics, or deepen and enrich the study of politics. Such courses are typically found in departments like International Relations, Urban Studies and Planning or Philosophy and in the College of Ethnic Studies.

Eight of the twelve Complementary Studies units may count toward the major as elective units, if approved in advance by a Political Science adviser. Students must consult with an adviser in the department to ensure that their choices fulfill the department’s requirements.  

Only three lower-division units may be counted towards the PLSI electives requirement. All other PLSI electives must be upper-division classes (300-level or above).

For a course to count towards the Political Science major or minor, students must earn a grade of C- or better in all core, breadth and culminating experience courses.

Political Science majors and minors may take up to four units of political science coursework as credit no credit (CR/NC), as long as those units are part of their electives. All PLSI courses other than electives must be taken for a letter grade (i.e. A-, B, C+ etc)

The GWAR (writing) course must be taken in the Political Science Department, even if a student has completed a GWAR course in another department.

Effective Fall 2020, PLSI 300 has been renumbered as PLSI 304, but it is the same course, and either number fulfills this requirement.

Students who want to do an independent study/special study must arrange it with faculty, fill out a "Petition for Course by Individual Study" (PLSI 699) form, and have at least a 3.0 grade-point average. Independent Study units count only as electives.

Variable topic courses are marked with an asterisk (*) and may be taken up to two times for credit, as long as they are different course topics.

Any 12 units outside the PLSI major counts towards complementary studies. These courses may not be cross listed with PLSI.

Which Courses Count for what Breadth Field?

*Please note that, if you have already fulfilled your breadth requirements, any additional breadth class listed here can be used to count towards PLSI elective units

Breadth Field: American Politics

  • PLSI 460: Topics in American Politics* (4 Units)
  • PLSI 461: Voting Behavior, Campaigns, and Elections (4 Units)
  • PLSI 462: Applied Public Opinion Research (4 Units)
  • PLSI 463:The Politics of Immigration in the United States (4 Units)
  • PLSI 464: Race and American Politics (4 Units)
  • PLSI 465: Reason, Passion, and Political Behavior (4 Units)
  • PLSI 467: Politics and Community Organizing (4 Units)
  • PLSI 468: Women and American Politics (4 Units)
  • PLSI 469: Women’s Political Movements in the U.S. (4 Units)
  • PLSI 470: The Politics of Sex and Reproduction (4 Units)
  • PLSI 472: Civic and Political Engagement (4 Units)
  • PLSI 473: California Politics and Government (4 Units)
  • PLSI 475: San Francisco Political Issues (4 Units)
  • PLSI 476: The American Presidency (4 Units)
  • PLSI 477: Congress and the Presidency (4 Units)
  • PLSI 479: The United States Congress (4 Units)
  • PLSI 512: Urban Politics and Community Power (4 Units)
  • PLSI 603: Public Service Internships (3 Units)
  • PLSI 604: Internship Seminar (1 Unit)

Breadth Field: Comparative Politics

  • PLSI 307: Qualitative Methods in Political Science and International Relations (4 Units)
  • PLSI 328: Domestic and Foreign Policy: Post-Communist Regions (4 Units)
  • PLSI 403: Cases in Comparative Politics (4 Units) * Formerly PLSI 319
  • PLSI 404: Politics of China (4 Units)
  • PLSI 406: Radical Right Politics: Far-Right Parties in Contemporary Europe (4 Units)
  • PLSI 407: Politics in Russia (4 Units)
  • PLSI 408: Mexico Politics and Society (3 Units)
  • PLSI 409: Russia and the World Order (4 Units)
  • PLSI 410: Middle East Politics (4 Units)
  • PLSI 411: East Asian Politics (4 Units)
  • PLSI 412: South Asian Politics (4 Units)
  • PLSI 415: Politics of India (4 Units)
  • PLSI 416: Ethnicity and Nationalism (4 Units)
  • PLSI 417: Gender, Equality and Politics: A Comparative Perspective (4 Units)
  • PLSI 418: Political Transitions in East and Southeast Asia (4 Units)
  • PLSI 419: Comparative Political Economy (4 Units)
  • PLSI 420: State-Society Relations in the Middle East (4 Units)
  • PLSI 421: Social Movements in the Francophone World (In French) (4 Units)
  • PLSI 422: Law and Courts in Comparative Perspective (4 Units)
  • PLSI 424: Social Movements (4 Units)
  • PLSI 425: Imagining Power in the Middle East (4 Units)
  • PLSI 431: Constructing Kurdistan (4 Units)
  • PLSI 435: Politics of Global Finance and Crisis (4 Units)
  • PLSI 459: Refugees in Global Perspective (4 Units)

Breadth Field: Political Theory

  • PLSI 309: Methods and Approaches in Political Theory (4 Units)
  • PLSI 351: Political Theory: The Classical Tradition (4 Units)
  • PLSI 352: Political Theory: Reformation to the 19th Century (4 Units)
  • PLSI 353: Political Theory: The 20th Century (4 Units)
  • PLSI 354: Politics, the Environment, and Social Change (4 Units)
  • PLSI 355: Politics and Ethics of the Consumer Society (3 Units)
  • PLSI 356: Political Theories of Neoliberalism (4 Units)
  • PLSI 357: Political Movements:Lessons from Freedom Summer (4 Units)
  • PLSI 360: Development of American Political Thought (4 Units)
  • PLSI 371: Marxist Political Theory (4 Units)
  • PLSI 372: Critical Political Theory (4 Units)
  • PLSI 381: Political Theories of Sexuality (4 Units)
  • PLSI 382: Politics and Literature (4 Units)
  • PLSI 386: Introduction to Critical Social Thought (3 Units)
  • PLSI 387: Non-Western Comparative Political Thought (4 Units)
  • PLSI 388: Politics and the Popular (4 Units)
  • PLSI 389: Latin American Revolutionary Societies (4 Units)
  • PLSI 392: Latin American Political Thought (4 Units)
  • PLSI 393: Anarchist Political Theory (4 Units)
  • PLSI 394: Political Theories of Work, Labor and Free Time (4 Units)
  • PLSI 396: Fascism and Communism in 20th Century Europe (4 Units) * Formerly PLSI 405

Breadth Field: Public Law

(Note: PLSI 478 is a prerequisite for PLSI 554, 556, 557, 561 and 609)

  • PLSI 308: Research and Writing for Public Law (4 Units)
  • PLSI 478: Judicial Process (4 Units)
  • PLSI 481: Race and Public Law (4 Units)
  • PLSI 552: Individual Rights and the Constitution (4 Units)
  • PLSI 553: Legal Issues (4 Units)
  • PLSI 554: Separation of Powers and Federalism (4 Units)
  • PLSI 555: Moot Court* (4 Units)
  • PLSI 556: Constitutional Law: First Amendment (4 Units)
  • PLSI 557: Constitutional Law: Fourteenth Amendment (4 Units)
  • PLSI 561: Jurisprudence (4 Units)
  • PLSI 562: Jurisprudence Writing Workshop (2 Units)
  • PLSI 610: Judicial and Legal Internship (3 Units)
  • PLSI 611: Judicial and Legal Internship Seminar (1 Unit) (610/611 must be taken concurrently)

*PLSI 555: Moot Court May be repeated once for credit, but only 4 units may be applied to breadth.

Electives (for Elective units towards the PLSI Major)

  • PLSI 100: Understanding Politics (3 Units)
  • PLSI 105: Principles of Government and Politics (3 Units)
  • PLSI 106: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy: Intro to Political Economy (3 Units)
  • PLSI 150: Contemporary Moral/Political Issues (3 Units)
  • PLSI 276: Public Lecture Series in Politics (2 Units) (Credit/No Credit)
  • PLSI 318: Modern Citizenship: Pundits, Podcasts, and Political Know-How in the 21st Century (2 Units)
  • PLSI 320: Political Forum: Current Topics* (2 Units)
  • PLSI 321: Development and Foreign Policy: Africa (4 Units)
  • PLSI 322: Latin American Policy Analysis (4 Units)
  • PLSI 325: Chinese Foreign Policy (4 Units)
  • PLSI 329: U.S.-Japan Politics (4 Units)
  • PLSI 342: Strategy and War (4 Units)
  • PLSI 362: Domestic and Transnational Sources of U.S. Foreign Policy (4 Units)
  • PLSI 373: Essentials of California Politics (1 Unit)
  • PLSI 395: Political Theory of Pedagogy (3 Units)
  • PLSI 430: Israeli Democracy: Politics, Institutions and Society (3 Units)
  • PLSI 492: Research Methods (4 Units)
  • PLSI 493: Data Analysis (4 Units)
  • PLSI 500: Labor and Government (3 Units)
  • PLSI 544: Women in the World (4 Units)
  • PLSI 560: Urban Poverty and Policy (4 Units)
  • PLSI 570: Urban Health Policy (3 Units)
  • PLSI 580: Housing Policy and Planning (3 Units)
  • PLSI 660: The Roles of Nonprofit Organizations in Urban Life (3 Units)
  • PLSI 685: Projects in the Teaching of Political Science (1 - 4 Units)
  • PLSI 699: Independent Study (by petition and consent of instructor) (1 - 4 Units)

Twelve units of complementary studies are required of all candidates for the B.A. degree in Political Science. These units come from any courses bearing a prefix other than PLSI. In addition, they may not be cross-listed with Political Science. Four of the twelve Complementary Studies units may count toward the major as elective units, if they are taken within closely related departments such as International Relations.

Checklists:

PLSI Major checklist for majors declared prior to fall 2020 (PDF)

PLSI Major checklist for majors declared fall 2020 and after (PDF)

Roadmaps:

Roadmap for Researchers (PDF)

Roadmap for Pre-Law (PDF)

Roadmap for Activism and Social Movements (PDF)

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