Politics B.A.

Information and Policies


The study of politics is a critical part of a liberal arts education. Since political issues and practices are embedded in and reflective of the whole experience of a community, the study of politics can constitute the center of a broad-based course of study drawing on history, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, political science, economics, literature, science, and law.

UC Santa Cruz politics students have many opportunities for field work and for internship placements. Students are encouraged to develop their own extensive independent research projects.

Politics faculty members give students individual attention to help them in their studies. Faculty members are firmly committed to the value of a liberal arts education, but they are also actively engaged in programs of research and writing. The research interests of the faculty range from questions of justice to the problem of war, from campaign strategy to relations between the rich and the poor countries of the world.

No specific courses at the high school level are required for admission to the major in politics at UCSC. Courses in history, literature, philosophy, and the social sciences, whether taken at the high school or college level, are appropriate background and preparation for the politics major.

A major in politics is appropriate for students interested in careers in law, journalism, or teaching; in political and governmental work from local to international settings; in non-governmental organizations; and in corporations dealing with regulatory or global issues. Many UCSC politics graduates have also gone on to do advanced work in distinguished graduate and professional schools. Others have found active and challenging careers in business and community organizing. Still others have turned to scholarship and writing. But regardless of career direction, the most significant purpose of the politics major is to help educate a reflective and activist citizenry capable of sharing power and responsibility in a contemporary democracy.

Academic Advising for the Program

Undergraduate Adviser

The undergraduate adviser offers specific information about navigating through the program and the curriculum and assists students with prerequisites, requirements, policies, procedures, learning support, guidance on internships, scholarships, and opportunities for undergraduate research.

Contact polimajor@ucsc.edu

Transfer students should also consult the Transfer Information and Policy section.

Peer Advisers

Peer advising assists with academic planning, major and minor requirements, preparing declaration paperwork and provides guidance on 3+3 and UCDC program requirements.

Contact lgstpoli@ucsc.edu.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the major, students will have met the following objectives:

  1. understand the origins, development, and nature of political institutions, practices, and ideas;
  2. place particular political phenomena in broader context (national, historical, cross-cultural, and theoretical, etc);
  3. demonstrate familiarity with various theoretical approaches to the study of politics, and their application in different geographic and substantive areas;
  4. critically evaluate arguments about political institutions, practices, and ideas based on logic and evidence;
  5. develop and sustain coherent written and oral arguments regarding political phenomena, theories, and values based on appropriate empirical and/or textual evidence and logic.

Major Qualification Policy and Declaration Process

Major Qualification

Students may declare the major after completing two lower-division politics courses (POLI 1–POLI 79) with grades of C or better. These courses are normally taken during the first year for frosh.

How to Declare a Major

Students who are eligible to declare the major must bring a completed declaration of major worksheet and politics major worksheet to the Politics advising office to officially declare.

Appeal Process

A student who has not been able to satisfy the pre-declaration requirement (a passing grade in two politics lower-division classes) may petition the department for an exception. The letter of petition must explain and document the circumstances that might justify an exception. The department will consider the request and notify the student of its decision within 15 days of receiving the petition.

Transfer Information and Policy

Transfer Admission Screening Policy

Students planning to apply in this major are not required to complete specific major preparation courses for consideration of admission to UC Santa Cruz.

A transfer student may satisfy the requirement for one of the two lower-division courses by completing an equivalent transferable course in a political science or equivalent department with a grade of C or better. The second lower-division course must be completed at UC Santa Cruz.

Courses from another institution may be considered only if they appear on the student’s Transfer Credit Summary. Students who wish to substitute transferable courses taken elsewhere for the politics major’s requirements should discuss the procedure with the department adviser.

Getting Started at UCSC as a Transfer Student

To ensure a smooth transition into UCSC and timely completion of the major, transfer students should meet with the politics undergraduate adviser as early as possible to discuss a two-year major planner and course enrollment. Completion of a lower-division politics course in the first quarter will allow timely declaration of the major (required in the second quarter of enrollment).

Letter Grade Policy

This program does not have a letter grade policy.

Double Majors and Major/Minor Combinations Policy

The department accepts proposals for double majors. A student pursuing a double major meets the full requirements of the politics major as well as the full requirements of the other major.

The Politics Department offers a combined major with the Latin American and Latino Studies Department. Requirements may be found in the Latin American and Latino studies section of the catalog. 


Honors in the politics major are awarded to graduating seniors, based primarily on a review of grades, whose academic performance is judged to be consistently excellent by a committee of politics faculty. Highest honors in the major are reserved for students with consistently outstanding academic performance.

Independent and Field Studies

Students may petition the department to substitute only one upper-division independent study or field study toward the elective requirement in the Politics major. UCDC and UCSAC internships are exempt from this limit.

Requirements and Planners

Course Requirements

Lower-Division Courses

Two lower-division politics courses.

All students are required to complete and pass two such courses, i.e. those numbered POLI 1 through POLI 79, as a foundation for continued success in the politics major and as a requirement to declare the major. These courses are normally taken during the student's first year. 

Upper-Division Courses

Four upper-division politics core courses.

The following four groups of courses constitute the core of the politics major. Four courses are required: two courses from one group, one course from a second group, and one course from a third group. In general, upper-division courses are not recommended for frosh.

/LGST 105A
Ancient Political Thought


/LGST 105B
Early Modern Political Thought


/LGST 105C
Modern Political Thought


U.S. Politics
/LGST 120A
Congress, President, and the Court in American Politics


/LGST 120B
Society and Democracy in American Political Development


/LGST 120C
State and Capitalism in American Political Development


POLI140AEuropean Politics


POLI140CLatin American Politics


POLI140DPolitics of East Asia


Global Politics/International Relations
POLI160ATheories of International and World Politics


/LGST 160B
International Law


POLI160CSecurity, Conflict, Violence, War


POLI160DInternational Political Economy


Four upper-division politics electives

Four courses selected from POLI 101-POLI 190, one of which may satisfy the comprehensive requirement described below (see the "Course Description" page for details about these courses). The requirement is five courses if a student chooses the “Additional Elective” option for the senior comprehensive requirement.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major’s upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement for politics majors is satisfied by completing any three of the four required core courses. The politics core course list is detailed above in the major requirements.

Comprehensive Requirement

The comprehensive requirement in the Politics Department can be satisfied in any of the following methods:

  • Senior Seminar: Successful completion of a politics senior seminar (POLI 190 series) that includes the writing of an extensive paper (no less than 15 pages) with a substantial research content. To enroll in a specific POLI 190 seminar, students must have successfully completed the prerequisite courses listed in the seminar’s catalog course description.
  • Additional Elective: Successful completion of one additional politics upper-division elective that includes a substantial writing component comparable to a paper for a senior seminar, either as part of the existing course requirements or added with the approval of the instructor. The student must receive prior approval from the instructor and enroll in a two-credit independent study, POLI 199F as part of this option.
  • Graduate Seminar: Successful completion of a politics graduate seminar (enrollment is contingent on the written recommendation of two politics faculty) that includes the writing of an extensive paper (no less than 15 pages) with a substantial research content.
  • Thesis (2-3 quarters): Successful completion of a senior thesis (POLI 195A, POLI 195B, POLI 195C) of a minimum of 50 pages. This option is for students interested in working on original research and writing under the supervision of a politics faculty member.


A four-year course plan for frosh majoring in Politics and a two-year course plan for transfer students are provided below.

Four-Year Sample Course Planner for Frosh Students

Year Fall Winter Spring
1st (frosh) POLI (Lower-division) POLI (Lower-division)  
2nd (soph) POLI (Upper-division elective) POLI (Upper-division elective) POLI (Upper-division core)
3rd (junior) POLI (Upper-division core) POLI (Upper-division elective)  POLI (Upper-division core)
POLI (Upper-division elective)  POLI (Upper-division core)   
4th (senior) POLI 190 (Senior Seminar)    

In addition to the specific courses shown in this four-year planner, a student must complete courses satisfying the general education requirements. See the UCSC Politics website to view courses and designations for which courses fulfill the majors' four core thematic requirements: Theory, U.S., Comparative, and Global/IR.

Two-Year Sample Course Planner for Transfer Students

Year Fall Winter Spring
1st (junior) POLI (Lower-division)* POLI (Upper-division elective) POLI (Upper-division elective)
POLI (Lower-division) POLI (Upper-division core) POLI (Upper-division core)
POLI (Upper-division elective)
2nd (senior) POLI (Upper-division core) POLI 190 (Senior Seminar)
POLI (Upper-division elective) POLI (Upper-division core)

This planner assumes that a student has completed all general education requirements–beyond major preparation requirements before coming to UCSC. See the UCSC Politics website to view courses and designations for which courses fulfill the majors' four core requirements: Theory, U.S., Comparative and Global/IR. *Articulated equivalent courses may be taken prior to transfer.

*Articulated equivalent courses may be taken prior to transfer.