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Political Science

College of Arts & Sciences

Political science is the study of power and how political institutions and individuals engage in the public realm. In the major, students explore concepts like freedom and justice; governmental structures; how law and courts function; how economics affects political behavior; international conflict and cooperation; media; and how traits like race, gender and class are political and shape identity, institutions and policy. Undergraduates acquire knowledge of political institutions in the United States and around the world. Students learn to think critically as they evaluate conflicting claims about what government can and should do. They explore how mass political behavior influences law and policy and study how government capacities and popular commitments to democracy vary across time and location. As they read, write research and debate, they learn to evaluate complicated issues and communicate effectively on controversial topics. Graduates with this degree pursue careers in fields such as business, technology, law, nonprofit, government, media and communication and research.

Major category: Minimum requirements

Curricular options: International Security, Political Economy

Topic(s): Social sciences

Degree requirements

Applicant type

Applicant type

Freshmen can apply to the UW to begin autumn quarter or winter quarter (U.S. applicants only)

Read more about applying to the UW as a freshman, including details for programs that provide high school students with college credit (like Running Start).

Political Science is a minimum requirements major. You may declare this major after enrolling at the UW and completing the prerequisites. Visit the department website for more information.

Quarters of general admisson to UW: autumn / winter (U.S. applicants only) / spring / summer

Preparation for the major is a factor in transfer admission.

  • Use the information below to help you prepare for this degree
  • Visit MyPlan to run a degree audit.
  • Use the UW Equivalency Guide to find out how courses taken at a Washington state community or technical college will transfer to the UW.
  • UW college and school graduation requirements

Department admission information

Departmental application deadline: Must enroll at the UW before applying to the major.
Please contact the department for details about the application process.

  • Students are admitted all quarters. Applications are due on the second Friday of each quarter. Applications and additional information are available from advisers in 215 Smith and on the Political Science Department website.
  • Applicants who meet the stated requirements will be admitted in time to register for the following quarter as majors.

Read more about applying to the UW as a transfer student.

Courses required for the major:

15 credits from the following courses (or approved equivalent):

  • POL S 101 SSc — Introduction to Politics
  • POL S 201 SSc — Introduction to Political Theory
  • POL S 202 SSc — Introduction to American Politics
  • POL S 203 SSc — Introduction to Int’l Relations
  • POL S 204 SSc — Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • Students must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA and a minimum 2.0 in each POL S course taken for admission to major.

Courses recommended for the major:

  • Courses that develop writing skills and breadth of knowledge
  • Introductory statistics

Entering transfer information:

Total undergraduates: 713
Total from Washington community colleges: 83

Entering transfer GPA (from WA community colleges):

3.75 – 4.00: 20
3.50 – 3.74: 23
3.25 – 3.49: 15
3.00 – 3.24: 13
2.75 – 2.99: 6
2.50 – 2.74: 5
2.49 and below: <5

Career outcomes

See list of all majors