Political Science Degree Requirements

The Department of Political Science offers a comprehensive curriculum designed to provide a thorough understanding of politics while providing a foundation for careers in government, law, education, business and other fields. Undergraduates benefit from the resources of its nationally recognized faculty and strong graduate programs. In addition to courses on political ideas, behavior, and institutions at the local, state and international levels, the department offers opportunities for students to participate in research projects, internship programs, scholarship competitions, study abroad, a political science honor society, and a program in law studies.

The political science curriculum is divided into four areas: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, and Political Theory.

Requirements for the Major

Majors are required to complete a minimum of 30 credits in political science, of which at least 15 credits must be in upper-division courses (numbered 300 or above) taken in residence at UWM. The following courses must be included among those taken for major credit:

  • PolSci 103 (Introduction to Political Science) or PolSci 104 (Introduction to American Government and Politics)
  • PolSci 203 (Introduction to Political Science Research) or PolSci 390 (Political Data Analysis) or PolSci 392 (Survey Research)
  • At least one course beyond the 100 level in each of the four areas of political science (American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, and Political Theory). Students should consult the most current version of the Undergraduate Catalog to determine which courses fall into which subfields.
  • PolSci 500 (Capstone Course in Political Science) for all students who began their studies in and after Fall 1998, to be taken in the last year of study.

Majors must attain a 2.5 GPA in all political science courses, including transfer work, and 2.5 GPA in political science courses taken at UWM.

Declaring a Major in Political Science

Students wishing to declare a political science major may do so in one of two ways:

Declare Your Pol Sci Major with an Advisor

In order to declare a political science major, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Obtain an unofficial transcript from Enrollment Services (MEL 274) or print one from your PAWS account.
  2. Fill out the "Declaration of Major" form, which can be found in Bolton 614.
  3. Schedule a meeting with one of the political science advisors (see Undergraduate Advising Hours to email or call to schedule an appointment).
  4. Meet with an advisor, determine your course plan, and declare your major.
  5. You should also consult with an L&S advisor about general education and college requirements. The Political Science advisors are not trained to help you with those requirements. They can be reached at x4654 in Merrill Hall 142.

Declare Your Pol Sci Major Online

Students may also declare a POL SCI major via e-mail. To do so, you must complete an Online Declaration of Major Form (pdf) and e-mail it to psmajor-add@uwm.edu. An undergraduate advisor will consult your transcript and, pending sufficient credits, will file a declaration of major form with the College of Letters and Science. Prior to making this request, it is very important that you consult all of the requirements for the POL SCI major (see above).

Please allow three to four weeks for processing online declaration requests. We will not send a confirmation e-mail when we have processed your application. Thus, if you do not see a declared POL SCI major reflected in your records on PAWS within three to four weeks, please contact an undergraduate POL SCI advisor (see Undergraduate Advising Hours).

Also, if you have any questions regarding coursework for the POL SCI major, you will need to visit with one of the POL SCI undergraduate advisors during their designated office hours or by appointment. We will not conduct advising appointments via e-mail. You should also consult with an L&S advisor about general education and college requirements. They can be reached at x4654 in Merrill Hall 142.

Students who have opted to restrict the release of their directory information at UWM should not utilize the online process for declaring a political science major.

Note: The College of Letters and Science requires that students must declare a major upon completing 15 credits and before completing 75 credits. It is extremely important to declare a major as soon as possible after completing 15 credits, so that a Political Science advisor can help you avoid any surprises affecting graduation. This is the student’s responsibility, not the department's. The Department of Political Science provides several faculty advisors who are available to all students, not just to majors. The advisors will provide students with information about political science courses, career opportunities, the political science major, and other matters of interest and importance. Schedule your appointment with an advisor or submit an online application for declaring your major as soon as you complete those 15 credits!

Honors and High Honors in the Major

Departmental honors are awarded upon graduation to students who achieve a 3.5 GPA overall and also in their political science major. Students meeting these GPA requirements will automatically be slated for graduating with honors in the major.

Students meeting the grade point requirements might also wish to be considered for departmental high honors. If a student wishes to be considered for departmental high honors, s/he should request that the faculty member supervising her/his substantial research paper, either for the Capstone or another course, nominate her/him for high honors. The supervising faculty member then will decide if the student should be recommended to the high honors committee, which is composed of three political science faculty members. The committee will determine if the quality of the nominee’s paper is sufficient to earn the high honors designation and, if so, will bestow the high honors accordingly. Do note that any student interested in receiving high honors needs to contact a Political Science faculty member to be considered; these high honors are not bestowed automatically.

Note: Students applying for and entering the major before Fall 2004 may use the old version of the high honors designation which reads as follows in pertinent part: "Departmental high honors are awarded to students who meet the GPA requirement for honors and also write a satisfactory senior paper under the supervision of a department faculty member or earn a grade of B or better in an approved departmental seminar taken during the senior year."

Questions about any of the above honors designations can be directed to any of the Political Science faculty advisors.