Degree Requirements

  • This page outlines requirements for the degree in Politics (BA, Politics). Students can also study this subject as a minor or as part of a self-designed major (BA or BS, Liberal Arts).

    Students must receive grades of C or better in all courses taken to fulfill major requirements. Only specific courses satisfy the major requirements, including electives. Courses should be chosen carefully, in consultation with the chair of the program. Track your progress using the program requirements worksheet (PDF) for the year in which you declared your major in Politics:

    For worksheets for years earlier than 2011, please see your academic advisor.

    Requirements for the Major in Politics

    The Politics major has a four-tier structure. Each tier marks a distinct level of engagement with political concepts, processes, and institutions. After acquiring content knowledge and methodological skills at the lower levels, students progress to the upper levels and continue to develop their own perspectives on politics.

    Thirteen courses are required for successful completion of the Politics major. Distributions and prerequisites for these courses are outlined in the table below, followed by a list of courses meeting the requirements under each tier of study. To see a general list of Politics courses offered, visit the Lang Course Finder. For updated course listings that meet the requirements below, email

    Tier I: Core Classes

    Students must take one course in three of the following four subfields:*

    U.S. Politics, which focuses on the politics of the United States and the Americas in domestic and global context.

    Courses include

    • LPOL 2015 Constitutional Law
    • LPOL 2018 Gender, Family, State in American Politics
    • LPOL 2120 Power and Politics in the U.S.

    Comparative Politics, which examines the politics of one or more countries or alternate units of analysis through a comparative lens.

    Courses include

    • LPOL 2017 The Nation-State and Its Discontents
    • LPOL 2031 Power and the State
    • LPOL 2501 The Nation-State Is Dead. Long Live the Nation-State.

    International Relations and Global Politics, which focuses on relations between countries and the increasing ambiguity of the nation-state as a pertinent unit of analysis.

    Courses include

    • LPOL 2019 Everybody Wants to Rule the World
    • LPOL 2033 Politics of Globalization
    • LPOL 2806 Conflict and Inequality in International Affairs

    Political Theory, which examines normative, conceptual, analytic, and diagnostic questions through the lens of political thinkers from ancient through contemporary times.

    Courses include

    • LPOL 2016 Imagining the Good Society
    • LPOL 2023 Introduction to Political Theory: Reframing the Political
    • LPOL 2500 Critiques of Domination

    *One core course requirement can be fulfilled with a ULEC course or Freshman Seminar taught by a Politics professor. At least two core courses must be LPOL 2000-level courses (or transfer equivalent).

    Tier II: Interdisciplinary and Experiential Classes

    This tier allows students to draw on relevant coursework in economics, history, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, psychology, humanities, and the arts to develop their knowledge of politics and power. It also invites students to put into practice their knowledge of politics by doing an internship or taking a civic engagement or study abroad course.

    Students must take three courses from an approved list of non-LPOL classes. At least one of these courses must be an internship, study abroad experience, or civic engagement course.

    Sample 2013-2014 courses fulfilling the interdisciplinary requirement (email for updated lists by semester):

    • LANT 2815 The Politics of Giving
    • LCST 3782 Feminist and Queer Affect Studies
    • LECO 3011 Poverty and Inequality
    • LEDU 3101 Refugees, Immigrants, and Education
    • LHIS 2844/2854 History, Authority, and Power
    • LINA 3150 Organizing for Freedom: Community Mobilizing Through Art and Education
    • LMUS 3104 How Race Defines American Music
    • LREL 3069 Buddhism and Human Rights
    • LSOC 3095 "The Ghetto"
    • LURB 3040 Social Justice and the City
    • UENV 4520 Urban Food Systems
    • UGLB 2110 (Dis)Order and (In)Justice

    Tier III: Upper-Level Electives

    Students can take any six LPOL classes at the 3000 and 4000 levels. Students must complete two core classes (one in the relevant subfield) or attain junior or senior status to enroll. Sample courses:

    • LPOL 3007 Contesting Economic Inequality
    • LPOL 3011 Studying Power Through Fieldwork
    • LPOL 3016 Borders and Walls
    • LPOL 3029 Biodiversity and Politics
    • LPOL 3033 Utopia and Urbanism
    • LPOL 3038 China in Revolution and Reform
    • LPOL 3041 Resistance

    Tier IV: Capstone

    In the fourth and final tier, students write a senior thesis in the Politics Senior Capstone Seminar.

    The capstone seminar offers students an opportunity to produce original work that may include research, political intervention, education, or institution building. While in the capstone, students are encouraged to seek out the valuable experience of Politics faculty in helping to conceptualize, research, and write original scholarly work in politics. Reflecting on the political knowledge acquired in previous courses, students design a unique project with the guidance of the capstone instructor and feedback from their peers. The shape and substance of the projects will vary depending on student inspiration, interests, and expertise, as well as the political context and the questions it gives rise to in a given year. You can read capstone theses from the recent graduating class in UnderPol, Volume 3 (PDF), a journal written and edited by 2018 Politics seniors. Other examples include:

    • A website to educate the public about the oppressive military government in Burma (Myanmar) and the struggle for democracy there
    • A voter registration drive focusing on New York City high school seniors and college students
    • Public opinion research (using student-designed surveys) on attitudes toward immigrants and multiculturalism
    • A study comparing rates of election of women to higher office in Europe, Asia, and the United States
    • In-depth interviewing and participant-observation research among striking restaurant delivery workers in New York City
    • An intensive reading of one or more works of political theory