May 27, 2024  
2020-2021 Catalog 
2020-2021 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Political Science, B.A.

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Program of Study

Political science is the study of government, individual, and institutional behavior in the public sector; relations among nation-states; and theories of politics. Political science addresses the fundamental issues confronting modern society — war, inequality, poverty, the environment — and seeks to evaluate the processes, policies, and theories that have been devised to deal with them.

Typically, the discipline of political science is subdivided into topical fields: U.S. government and politics, including the subfields of public law, public administration, and public policy; comparative politics, which deals with government and politics within nations other than the United States; international relations, which is the analysis of politics among nations, including foreign policy, war and peace, and political economy; and political theory, which encompasses political thought throughout the ages as well as contemporary approaches.

The Political Science Program at Cal State San Marcos offers courses in each of these areas and invites students to explore a broad spectrum of topics. Political science majors may choose between a general concentration, which provides wide exposure to the fields of political science, and a global concentration, which offers majors an opportunity to focus on foreign political systems and international relations. Majors and non-majors alike are encouraged to think critically, independently, and objectively about government and politics. The goal of the program is to produce informed, empowered citizens who will contribute to their national and global communities.

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science will be able to:

  1. Summarize the foundational principles and key concepts of Political Science.
  2. Describe and analyze the roles played by political identities in historical and contemporary political environments.
  3. Analyze the impact of state and non-state actors, institutions, and organizations on policy.
  4. Apply theories, political thought, ideologies, and ideas to historical content and/or contemporary political realities.
  5. Apply knowledge of research methods to formulate and implement an appropriate research design to analyze political phenomena.
  6. Utilize effective communications skills to analyze political issues, ideas, and policies.

Career Opportunities

A political science major opens the door to a broad spectrum of career opportunities. Many political science majors eventually pursue careers in law, and a number of political science courses focus on legal issues and processes. A political science major is also excellent preparation for those contemplating careers in government service and public administration, either at the federal or state levels. Possibilities include working on the staff of an elected official or legislative body, working for a government agency, or serving as an elected public official. Political science is an excellent major for those planning careers in the foreign service agencies of the U.S. government, international political organizations, and international corporations. Teaching in the public schools, or at the college and university level after doing graduate work, is another popular career option for political science majors. Finally, many political science majors choose to pursue careers in business and industry.


High school students should take four years of English, including composition, and social science and civics courses, including history and economics. A familiarity with computers is also desirable. Community college transfer students should take a basic course in U.S. political institutions, which will fulfill the state code requirements for U.S. History, Constitution and American Ideals. An introductory statistics or elementary political analysis course is also helpful. Other lower-division political science and social science courses are highly recommended.


All students are assigned to, or may select, a discipline advisor when they declare a major in political science. This faculty advisor should be consulted for any determinations of transfer course equivalents, approved electives, and other requirements.

Special Conditions for the Bachelor of Arts and Minor in Political Science

All courses counted toward the major or minor in political science, including Preparation for the Major courses, must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or higher, except PSCI internship courses, which must be completed with a grade of credit.

A minimum of 27 units counted toward the major and 9 units counted toward the minor must be earned in residence at California State University San Marcos. Transferring units to the PSCI major or minor requires faculty advisor approval, and this process requires documentation that transferred units incorporated a satisfactory writing component, as well as a transcript record, course syllabus, and catalog course description. Additionally, lower-division units will not be transferred or substituted for upper-division course listings and requirements at CSUSM.

No more than nine (9) units of internship (PSCI 495), independent study (PSCI 498), and/or independent research (PSCI 499) may be applied toward the major. Internship, independent study, and independent research may be applied to field distribution depending on content of the course of study. No more than six (6) units of PSCI 495, PSCI 498, and/or PSCI 499 may be counted toward the minor.

Majors in the Global Concentration must complete three (3) upper-division units outside political science in courses that deal with global issues. This course must be approved by an advisor. Political science majors are strongly encouraged to take PSCI 100  prior to taking upper-division political science courses.

Senior Seminar in Political Science (PSCI 494 ) is a capstone course designed to be taken in the final semester of the major. Instructor consent is required, and these prerequisites must be completed with a grade of C (2.) or better before the student can enroll in Senior Seminar: PSCI 301 , PSCI 331 , PSCI 350 , PSCI 370 . Majors are strongly encouraged to take all of these prerequisites for the capstone as early as possible in their program of study to better prepare themselves for upper-division coursework in the major.

Upper-division political science courses are grouped into four fields: U.S. Government and Politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, and Political Theory. Courses designated as “General” Political Science courses can be utilized to fulfill field requirements, but students must consult with their advisors to determine how these courses can be used. 

General Education (48 Units)

General Education Requirements  

Preparation for the Major (3 Units)



*Three (3) lower-division General Education  units in Area D (Social Sciences) are automatically satisfied by PSCI 100  which is required as Preparation for the Major.

Language Proficiency (0-9 Units)

All political science majors must meet a second-language proficiency requirement.  This is satisfied with a 200-level class or demonstrating proficiency in a language other than English. For details on how to satisfy this requirement, please refer to Language Proficiency Requirement  .

Breadth Requirement (3 Units)

Additional course in Upper Division Social Sciences (DD designated) outside the major. This requirement can also count as the DD requirement in Upper Division General Education, but it must be taken in a Social Science other than Political Science. Any course carrying the DD designation outside of Political Science can be used to fulfill this requirement. If students choose to satisfy their UDGE DD with a course outside the major, the breadth requirement will become 3 free elective units.

General Concentration Requirements (36 Units)

Any Upper-Division Course in U.S. Government and Politics Field (3 Units)

Additional Upper-Division Units in Three (3) of Four (4) Fields of Political Science (18 Units)

(U.S. Government and Politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, Political Theory)

Global Concentration Requirements (36 Units)

Any Upper-Division Units in Comparative Politics and International Politics Fields of Political Science (18 Units)

Up to 3 units from other fields of Political Science may be applied here.

Any Upper-Division, Non-Political Science Course Dealing with Global Issues (3 Units)

(To be approved by advisor)

Minimum Total (120 Units)

Students must take a sufficient number of elective units to bring the total number of units to a minimum of 120

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