New Student Orientation

Thank you for your interest in Political Science!

Our introductory video and the information below should help you get acclimated to our major.  If you have additional questions, feel free to contact us (see contact info below).

Why Study Political Science?

Political science is the ultimate liberal arts major, as it is compatible with a variety of interests and related areas of study. As a political science major, you have the flexibility to choose a concentration within the major, double major, or add an interdisciplinary minor to your degree. Doing so will help keep you engaged and bring focus to your goals.

Majoring in political science can lead to careers in the private and public sector including careers in business, law, consulting, state, local, and federal government, journalism, communications, international organizations, finance, political campaigns, interest groups, community service, non-government organizations (NGO's) and pre-college and college teaching. A degree in political science also provides preparation for participating in community organizations, electoral politics, or interest group movements on behalf of specific policies. Graduates often pursue options like Americorps, the Peace Corps, Teach for America, Food Corps or Critical Language Scholarship Program before seeking employment.

Surveys of the nation’s top employers consistently report that the most successful job candidates are individuals who possess critical thinking and effective communication skills, are comfortable using technology, have the ability to make sound judgments, and can work productively with others in a group. Our faculty provide undergraduates a challenging major that emphasizes knowledge as well as the development of skills essential to the practice of public citizenship and vital to any individual career choice. Our students communicate effectively, write and think analytically, conduct independent research, work in a diverse environment, engage in the interplay of ideas, and participate in public life.

Requirements for the major

To earn a bachelor of arts in political science you must have at least 36 credit hours in POLI courses – 15 of which must be at the 300-level or above.

Core requirements include:
POLI 101 – American Government (3)
POLI 103 – World Politics OR POLI 104 – World Regional Geography (3)
POLI 150 – Introduction to Political Thought (3)
POLI 205 – Doing Research in Politics (3)
POLI 405 – Capstone Seminar (3)

Note: It is recommended that you complete all the core requirements except POLI 405 before you venture into the three subfields. POLI 405 (or PPLW400 for those pursuing the PPLW concentration) should be completed within your last 9 credit hours.

The Subfields are:
  1. American Politics and Process
  2. Global Politics
  3. Spaces Politics of Ideas

Note: Three credit hours per subfield are required.

A list of courses within each subfield can be found in the undergraduate catalog. Within each subfield are courses at the 200- and 300-level. The distinction between the two levels is not an indication of the amount of work required in the course but rather the depth of the subject matter. Courses at the 200-level are approached from a broad perspective, whereas 300-level courses focus on issues in greater depth and may include a research requirement.

Your final 12 credit hours can come from any of the courses in the subfields or any of the following courses:
DCSP 395, GEOG 101, GEOG 206, POLI 102 , POLI 103, POLI 104, POLI 119, POLI 203, POLI 206 , POLI 400, POLI 401, POLI 402, POLI 423, POLI 450, POLI 499A, POLI 499B.

Concentrations and Minors

The department offers two optional concentrations for the political science major: Public Policy (PLCY) and Politics, Philosophy and Law (PPLW). Though not required, these concentrations allow you to pursue a more focused course of study. The PLCY concentration helps you develop a policy emphasis and prepares you for careers or graduate programs in public policy and public administration. The PPLW concentration is great for those interested in studying philosophy and the law and provides excellent preparation for law school.

In addition to our major and the optional concentrations, we offer two minors in the department: political science and geography, and there are many more to be found throughout the College. If you pursue your minor(s) with intention, it can have a profound effect on your future goals. Some popular minors pursued by political science majors include:

African American Studies
African Studies
Business Administration
Communication
Crime, Law and Society
Data Science
Economics
English
Environmental and Sustainability Studies
European Studies 
Geography
Global Trade
History
International Studies
Middle Eastern and Islamic World Studies
Philosophy
Psychology
Sociology
Southern Studies
Urban Studies
Women’s and Gender Studies

Discover the specific requirements of these minors or identify others that interest you and chart your unique course toward success!

Declaring your major

To declare your major, optional concentrations and/or minors, sign into MyCharleston. (MyCharleston is found on the header of the College of Charleston website: https://cofc.edu/ and is your gateway to all academic information and services). Click on 1) Academic Services and 2) Program of Study Management (POSM) and follow the instructions. Please note: You must choose the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. 

All students must declare a major no later than the second semester of sophomore year, but we urge you to do it sooner, when possible. The earlier you declare, the sooner you will start receiving our weekly newsletter, invitations to lectures/events, and be assigned a faculty advisor to support you as you navigate the College.

Advising Information

Once you declare your major, we will assign a faculty member to serve as your academic advisor.

Although you can and should reach out to your advisor whenever you have a specific question you need assistance with, there is one mandatory advising period every semester when you must meet with him/her.  You will be notified of the mandatory advising period via the department’s Advising Newsletter, emailed to you approximately one month prior to registration. The Advising Newsletter includes (almost) everything you need to know to register for the upcoming semester.  Review it carefully prior to your meeting and write down any questions you have to discuss with your advisor. 

An advising meeting is also an excellent time to discuss: adding a second major or minor to your program of study; pursuing independent research, study abroad or internship opportunities; career or post-graduate plans; basically anything that can help you make the most of your college experience.

View the Summer/Fall 2021 Advising Newlsetter.

Questions?

Contact us:

Tracey Andrews
Administrative Coordinator
Office: JC Long Building, Room 215
Phone: 843.953.5724
E-mail: andrewst@cofc.edu

Hollis France
Department Chair
Office: JC Long Building, Room 224
Phone: 843.953.6324
E-mail: franceh@cofc.edu

Jordan Ragusa
Associate Chair
Office: JC Long Building, Room 206
Phone: 843.953.5219
Email: ragusajm@cofc.edu
(POLI contact for study abroad and transfer credit requests)

More undergraduate information for current students can be found by visiting the Undergraduate Information Quick Links page.