Life as a UNC Political Science Major
In The Classroom
The Department of Political Science offers its undergraduate majors a wide variety of courses across four concentrations: American politics; international politics; law, ethics, and politics; and a “build-your-own” thematic concentration. The major requirements provide students with a broad understanding of the discipline of political science as well as the flexibility to focus their coursework to specific areas of interest.
While Political Science is one of the largest undergraduate majors at UNC-Chapel Hill, there is ample opportunity for students to receive individual attention and assistance as they pursue their chosen course of study. Our faculty members are committed to creating interesting and relevant classroom environments, and students are encouraged to meet with faculty outside of class during their office hours.
The Department of Political Science regularly sponsors events for undergraduate students, including a speaker series and film screenings. During the academic year, the Department sends out a weekly email through the major listserv with information about on-campus events of interest to political science majors.
Membership in Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, is open to majors who have taken fifteen hours of political science credits and an overall grade point average of 3.2 or better and a Political Science grade point average of 3.5 or better.
There are several ways for political science majors to engage in research. Courses in political science often include a research component. Majors may also engage in directed research under the supervision of a faculty advisor through an Independent Study. Students interested in pursuing an independent study should begin the process by completing the required forms and securing a faculty advisor well before the beginning of the semester they plan to enroll in POLI 395 or 396.
The Honors Program provides political science majors the opportunity to pursue an independent research project, culminating in a senior thesis. Students interested in participating in the Honors Program must have at least a 3.2 overall grade point average and a 3.5 GPA in political science and should apply by October 15 of their junior year.
Students may apply for funding and support for research projects through the Office of Undergraduate Research. The office also sponsors a research fair at which students present their findings in panels and poster sessions open to the public.
An internship course provides students with the opportunity to earn academic credit while obtaining practical work experience in agencies and organizations clearly related to the study of political science. This course includes both an internship and an academic component and fulfills the experiential education graduation requirement. Students interested in pursuing an internship should begin the process of putting together begin the process of completing the required forms and securing a faculty advisor well before beginning of the semester they plan to enroll in POLI 193.
Since we live in an increasingly globalized society, students are encouraged to study abroad as they are able. Students interested in the fields of comparative politics and international relations are strongly urged to participate in a study abroad program. Indeed, all students may find the experience to be transformational and helpful in choosing a career path. Students are advised to work with the Study Abroad Office and to contact the undergraduate advisor when planning their study abroad experience.