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Majoring in Political Science

ODU offers two degrees in political science: the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees. The two degrees provide students with different skills. Students who choose the B.A. master a foreign language of their choice, while students pursuing the B.S. complete receiving specialized training in quantitative research methods.

Which degree is right for you?

Most political science students choose between the degrees based on their comfort with math and their prior course work in a foreign language. Students who have some college-level language credit in a foreign language typically choose the B.A. degree. By contrast, students who are comfortable with math and statistics often choose the B.S. degree.

To earn either degree, a student must complete all University-mandated general education requirements and the requirement for upper division studies outside the major (e.g. a minor field of concentration or a cluster). All political science students must successfully complete 36 credit hours in political science (twelve courses) with a grade point average (GPA) in those courses of 2.0 or better. In addition, all political science majors must complete ECON 201S and either ECON 202S or GEOG 100S. The Department also requires graduating seniors to submit a capstone paper to the faculty.

The Bachelor of Arts Major

Students who select the B.A. degree must complete four foundation courses (twelve hours) in political science: POLS 100S; POLS 101S; POLS 102S; and POLS 308. B.A. students should complete the 100-level foundation courses before taking electives in political science. B.A. students complete at least eight courses (24 hours) of political science electives at the 300- or 400-level. Of these eight electives, at least three must be 400-level courses and at least one must be a writing-intensive political science course. All writing intensive course carry a “W” suffix after the course number.

B.A. students must divide their eight electives between the principal subfields of political science. At least three electives must be in the American politics/public law subfields, and at least three must be in the international relations/comparative politics subfields. The remaining two electives can be in either field. The Department’s webpage lists political science courses here.

In addition to coursework in political science, B.A. students must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language equivalent to two years of college-level language instruction (e.g. through the 202-level in French, German or Spanish or through the 212 level in Chinese or Arabic). B.A. students may satisfy this requirement by passing a language proficiency examination; completing ODU courses through the 200-level; or some combination (such as taking the proficiency exam, receiving a waiver for 100-level language courses, and starting instruction at the 201-level).

The Bachelor of Science Major

Students who select the B.S. degree must complete five foundation courses (15 hours) in political science: POLS 100S; POLS 101S; POLS 102S; POLS 308; and POLS 418. B.S. students should complete the 100-level foundation courses before taking electives in political science. B.S. students complete at least seven courses (21 hours) of political science electives at the 300- or 400-level. Of these seven electives, at least three must be 400-level courses and at least one must be a writing-intensive political science course. All writing intensive course carry a “W” suffix after the course number.

B.S. students must divide their seven electives between the principal subfields of political science. At least three electives must be in the American politics/public law subfields, and at least three must be in the international relations/comparative politics subfields. The remaining elective can be in either field. The Department’s webpage lists political science courses here.

In addition to coursework in political science, B.S. students must complete STAT 130M: Elementary Statistics.

Honors in Political Science

Political science majors, whether pursuing the B.A. or B.S., may earn honors by obtaining an overall grade point average of 3.25; a GPA in political science courses of 3.5; earn at least nine hours of political science credit in “Contract Honors Courses” at the 300- or 400-level, with no more than six hours taken from the same instructor; and completion of at least 60 credit hours at ODU, 54 or which must be grade-point graded courses.

Joint Program in Political Science and Philosophy

The Departments of Political Science and Philosophy have established a double major that allows students to specialize in both disciplines. The double major program requires as few as 55 credit hours—little more than the 45 to 49 hours typically required for a major in one field and a minor in the other.  Political Science majors double-majoring in Philosophy (on the Political-Legal Studies track) can count any two of the following Philosophy courses as Political Science electives: PHIL 304 (Marx and the Marxists), PHIL 410/510 (Social-Political Philosophy), PHIL 411/511 (Postmodernism and Political Philosophy), and PHIL 412/512 (Philosophy of Law).  These courses will not count toward the requirement to take a specific number of hours in the American politics/public law and international relations/comparative politics emphasis areas.  Philosophy "topics" courses and PHIL 442 (Studies in Applied Ethics) may also be counted as Political Science electives when the topic covered is appropriate; prior approval is required from the Chief Departmental Advisor of Political Science and Geography.  Philosophy will also count certain Political Science courses towards its major for double majors; see the Department of Philosophy’s webpage or its section of the Undergraduate Catalog for details.

Minors in Political Science

The Department offers a general minor and minor specializing in public law. Each requires one specified introductory course and twelve hours of 300/400-level courses. For completion of a minor, a student must earn a minimum grade point average of 2.00 in all courses taken toward the minor and complete a minimum of six hours in 300- or 400-level courses in political science at Old Dominion University.

For the general minor in political science, students must complete one course from POLS 100S, 101S, or 102S; and four courses (twelve hours) of any 300- or 400-level political science electives.

For the public law minor, students must complete POLS 101S and four courses (twelve hours) from the following: POLS 301, 306, 307, 403, 404, 408, 409, 417, 419, 421 and public law topics courses listed as POLS 495 or POLS 496.