Political Science

Political science applies theories, concepts, and methods to the study of political phenomena. It uses historical, philosophical, and empirical perspectives to understand political problems and policy issues. Traditionally, political science splits into four sub-fields: (1) the study of politics in the United States; (2) the comparative study of political systems and individual nations around the globe; (3) the study of relations among states and peoples; and (4) the philosophical study of political ideas. What distinguishes Political Science at Brown is our exploration of the broad questions about political life in ways that cross traditional sub-fields. The concentration in Political Science exposes students to approaches to the study of politics ranging from ancient Greek philosophy to modern quantitative techniques of policy evaluation, in both domestic and international contexts.

The undergraduate concentration is organized around three broad tracks, or programs of study: American politics, international and comparative politics, and political theory.  Twelve courses are required overall: ten within the Department of Political Science and two from areas outside the department related to your chosen track. Thirteen courses are required if the methods requirement is fulfilled with a course outside the department.


Two introductory courses:2
For the American politics and political theory tracks, select two courses from the following list. One of which must be the introductory course associated with the chosen track
Introduction to the American Political Process
Introduction to Political Thought
Introduction to Comparative Politics
Introduction to International Politics
For the international and comparative politics track; the following two introductory courses are required:
Introduction to Comparative Politics
Introduction to International Politics
One course in the American politics subfield1
One course in the political theory subfield1
Two courses in the international and comparative politics subfield2
Three upper-level courses in the chosen subfield3
One methods course from Political Science: 11
Foundations of Political Analysis
Political Research Methods
One research seminar from the POLS 1820, 1821, 1822 or 1823 offerings that is track related1
Two upper-level courses from outside the department related to the specialized track, chosen with the approval of the concentration advisor. 22

A comparable course from an outside department (APMA 0650APMA 1650, ANTH 1940, ECON 1620ECON 1630EDUC 1100EDUC 1110GEOL 1320, SOC 1100 or  SOC 1120 may also be used). If the methods requirement is fulfilled by an outside department course, it will not count as one of the 12 required courses.


Appropriate 1000-level courses offered in (but not limited to) Africana Studies, American Civilization, Anthropology, Classics, Economics, History, International Relations, Philosophy, Public Policy, Religious Studies, Sociology or Urban Studies may apply. The concentration advisor may approve a course from another department if it clearly meets the intent of the outside course requirement.

To obtain an advisor contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Linda Cook.


Students wishing to undertake the honors program need to complete the same requirements as shown for the concentration. Completion of the methods requirement is required prior to applying to the Honors program. Students must also complete an honors research project and take POLS 1910 and POLS 1920 during the senior year. POLS 1910 and POLS 1920 will count as one credit towards the 10 required Political Science courses for the concentration.