Political Science Major

The Political Science major at Haverford College offers undergraduates the opportunity to explore politics and government in a fast-paced and dynamic academic environment. Our courses, which span five subfields, reach into all corners of the globe while examining politics and government from a range of vantage points. And we are committed to providing our students with innovative real-world opportunities to deepen and apply their coursework and research.

Curriculum & Courses

Our faculty possess expertise in five subfields—American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, Global Governance, and Political Theory—and we require majors to complete coursework in three of the five subfields. Committed to relevance as well as breadth, we offer an ever-growing array of courses. Among them are classes that arise out of today’s most pressing issues—from terrorism to income inequality, to mobilization politics—and those that enmesh students in the world around them through policy making projects, international field trips, and internships in the political and governmental sectors.

  • Major

    • Two of the following 100-level courses to enter the major: POLS H121, POLS H131, POLS H151, POLS H161, and POLS H171. These courses must represent two different subfields.
    • Six elective courses taken above the 100 level. No more than four of the elective courses for the major may come from institutions outside of the Tri-Co.
    • A 300-level research seminar, taken in the department during the fall semester of the senior year. (This is in addition to the six elective courses described above.)
    • A combination of introductory and elective courses that includes representation of three of the five subfields, with work at the intermediate or advanced level in at least two subfields.
      • Students may count some courses in either of the two subfields but not in both.
      • With the consent of a member of the department, students may substitute two or three intermediate- or advanced-level courses from another department for the third subfield, where this serves to complement and strengthen the student’s work within the department. For example, a student concentrating in international politics might offer international economics courses as a subfield; a student in comparative politics might offer courses in an area study; a student in political theory might offer social and political philosophy courses; or a student in American politics might offer social policy courses. Students can count such substitutions towards fulfilling the subfield requirement only. They cannot count these towards political science course credit and cannot use them to fulfill the introductory, elective, and seminar requirements outlined above.
    • All senior majors write a thesis and complete an oral defense of the thesis through enrollment in POLS H400.
    • Four courses outside political science at Haverford or Bryn Mawr College that relate to the major. Examples of possible interests around which courses could cluster are: American or other area studies; political and social theory; international affairs; environmental policies; urban affairs; intermediate and advanced foreign language work related to work in the major; or courses from one or more of the other social sciences.

Research & Outreach

All Political Science majors produce a thesis—a work of original research—over the course of their senior year. During the fall semester, students are assigned an advisor. In conjunction with their advisor as well as our 400-level research seminar, they identify a compelling research question and devise a research plan. At the end of the semester, they present their research proposals to faculty and fellow majors. In the spring, students write their theses, continuing to work with their advisors one-on-one as well as in small peer groups. At the close of the spring semester, majors defend their theses in front of two Political Science faculty members.

After Graduation

Our students graduate equipped with a theoretical and practical understanding of political science as well as an abiding commitment to engaging in political issues. Whether they do so as scholars of political science or related disciplines, as professionals involved in the realms of politics and government, or as citizens, they are leaving their mark—with passion and perspective—on our world today.

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You can find detailed instructions and information on the Application Instructions page. If you need to contact us directly, please send an email to admission@haverford.edu.

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