Students majoring in political science are encouraged to achieve both a broad understanding of the field and a specialized knowledge of one or more aspects of political science, including American politics and comparative politics and politics and international relations (see also majors in managerial studies and policy studies).

Political Science is a popular major, both as a student's only major, and as a double or triple major with a variety of other departments. Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions about the major:

1. Why should I major in Political Science?

Political Science does not develop a particular skill or qualification. Many students who major in Political Science go on to law school, business school, or start a career directly after graduation. However, majoring in Political Science itself does NOT help you get into law or business school. If you want a general degree, and you enjoy Political Science, you are probably going to do better than if you major in something you do not like. High grades can help you to get into law or business school, or to get a job.

2. How many courses do I need to take to major in Political Science?

You need to take 10 courses (30 hours) in Political Science, and 2 courses (6 hours) in other departments. So, relax, there's no need to overload your schedule with political science courses in your freshman or sophomore years.

3. Are there any specific course requirements for the Political Science major?

The only specific course that is required is POLI 395, Introduction to Statistics. You have choices for every other major requirement. For example, you must take two of the four introductory courses, but you can choose which two courses you prefer. You must take four courses in one of the three substantive fields of the department, but other than the introductory course, you have a number of options.

4. What's the best way to get started in Poli to see if I want to become a major?

The department offers 4 introductory courses in different areas of Political Science. Each course is offered each year, and some are offered twice a year. The best way to see if you like Political Science is to take one or two of the introductory courses. Each will provide you with an overview of an entire area of Political Science. There's no need to take any more than one or two courses. You should try a few other courses in related departments (Anthropology, Economics, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology) to see if you like the approach taken in another department better than that of Political Science. The 4 intro Poli courses we offer are:

Poli 209, which introduces political theory.
Poli 210, which introduces American politics.
Poli 211, which introduces international relations.
Poli 212, which introduces comparative politics.

5. Is it a good idea to take the stat course (Poli 395) early during my time at Rice or should I wait as long as possible?  

Almost all seminars (400-level courses) have Poli 395 as a prerequisite. So you cannot take seminars until after you have taken Poli 395. It is advisable to take Poli 395 soon after you have made the decision to major in political science. This will give you the most options for the timing of taking seminars.

6. If I have questions about Political Science, who should I see?

Dr. Stoll is the Director of Undergraduate Studies (120 Herzstein Hall, x3362, e-mail: stoll@rice.edu). He will be happy to answer all of your questions. He also handles all major declarations and transfer credit issues.