Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Declaring the minor or major is easy -- there are no deadlines, fees, or hassles. Just drop by the department office (NH 126) anytime to pick up a list of undergraduate advisors and office hours, then visit one of the department's advisors for a signature and informational materials.

Because demand for seats at SDSU runs far ahead of supply, many popular majors have had to implement various formulas for enrollment management. In the political science department you are initially admitted as a "premajor," and earn the opportunity to move into the major by clearing the "impaction" requirements

Visit the major page for more information.

Impaction does not affect political science minors.

Premajor is a temporary status assigned while you demonstrate the ability to succeed in political science courses. Until you have cleared the impaction criteria (see above), you will remain a premajor.You will automatically advance into the major once you have completed your premajor requirements. If you are not automatically advanced, speak to the undergraduate advisor.

Premajors can do nearly everything majors can do. You may take nearly all of our courses (including upper division) and earn credits toward your BA degree. However, premajors cannot enroll in thesis or internship, nor can they apply for graduation. It is therefore imperative that you clear impaction requirements and move into the major before you attempt to graduate. 

You can enroll in upper-division coursework once you have completed your premajor requirements, even if you are still formally in the premajor. If you are nearing completion of your premajor requirements and you feel competent in political science and confident enough to face the challenge of more advanced coursework, you may also proceed with 300- or even 400- level coursework. Any units you earn as a premajor will apply to your major.

Political science is a 39 unit major. Like all Bachelor of Arts degrees, it requires clearance of the writing proficiency and foreign language requirements. In addition, you need 12 lower division and 27 upper division units of political science. Political science is divided into specialized fields; majors are required to take at least one course in each of four fields (political theory, American politics, comparative politics, international politics), plus additional elective upper division coursework, plus a senior "capstone" requirement of an internship, a senior thesis, or a 500- level course.

Visit the major page for more information.

Political Science is a 21 unit minor, requiring 9 units of lower division and 12 units of upper division coursework,. Upper division coursework requires some specialization, selecting at least 3 courses in either political theory, American politics, or the combined fields of comparative and international politics. The other upper division courses can be within the same or a different area. 

Visit the minor page for more information.

Many Political Science minors are surprised to discover that as they near completion of the minor they are only a few courses away from a second major. Dropping the minor and adding political science as a first or second major is easy (see adding the major, above), and all prior political science coursework will apply. 

These match university requirements, as spelled out in the "graduation requirements" section of the university catalog. 

Yes. If Political Science majors enroll in one of the Political Science courses that meet the "Explorations--Social and Behavioral Science" that course will clear both the explorations requirement as well as count for the major.

Transfer credit depends upon comparability of courses, existing "articulation" agreements between institutions, and quarter versus semester hours. Normally you must wait until the transcript evaluators have determined transferability of your coursework from other institutions (usually during your first semester). However, you can easily log on to www.assist.org (the web-based clearinghouse for articulation among California institutions of higher education), to determine if agreements exist for the courses and schools in question. If the Registrar rejects a course you believe should have been transferable, bring supporting documents to a department advisor to determine if that decision can be challenged by petition.

Note that SDSU need not offer an equivalent course in order to accept transfer credit, particularly at the upper division level. If you have taken political science courses elsewhere for which no SDSU equivalents exist, we can probably apply those units toward the major or minor, presuming you can support a petition with relevant documents (e.g., syllabus). You will need to meet with a department advisor to determine field eligibility of the course(s) in question. Please note that half of your upper division major or minor units must be completed at SDSU. 

While some community and junior colleges offer direct equivalents to all of SDSU's major preparation (lower division) courses, you must be particularly careful with POL S 101 and 102. This is because many schools only offer one "introductory" course, and the course numbers may be different (or even reversed!). Thus when you arrive at SDSU and discover that here you will need to take both 101 and 102, you may not know which course you already took and which to take next. DO NOT make the mistake of just "guessing" and proceeding with one or the other -- if you guess wrong, you will lose the units!

If you took only one introduction to political science course, and you do not know if it is the equivalent of 101 or 102, normally you must wait until the transcript evaluators have determined transfer credit (usually during your first semester). If you cannot wait for that determination, log on to www.assist.org (the web-based clearinghouse for articulation agreements among all California institutions of higher education) to determine if agreements exist for your course. "Assist" will tell you if your course is the equivalent of our 101 or our 102. If Assist does not show an articulation, the rule of thumb is that if your introductory course included a section on California State government, it will almost certainly be deemed the equivalent of POL S 102. 

San Diego State University is a recognized leader in international education, and boasts a wide variety of excellent opportunities for study abroad. The political science department strongly encourages students to take advantage of these opportunities for international experience, and strives to accommodate units transferred from overseas institutions and programs.

Most study abroad programs require that you meet first with a major or minor advisor for approval of planned coursework. However, final approval of units is done upon your return. Normally you must wait until the international transcript evaluators have determined transferability of your overseas coursework, though we can facilitate this process by meeting to go over your materials. If the Registrar rejects a course you believe should have been transferable, bring supporting documents to a department advisor to determine if that decision can be challenged by petition.

Note that SDSU need not offer an exact equivalent course in order to accept credits from abroad, particularly at the upper division level. When you take courses overseas for which no SDSU equivalents exist, we can usually apply those units toward the major or minor, presuming you can support a petition with relevant documents (e.g., syllabus or catalog description). You will need to meet with a department advisor to determine field eligibility of the course(s) in question. 

The department offers a certificate in Public Law.

See certificate page for more information.

Political science is not a vocational major such as nursing, nutrition, or accounting, all of which train you with a specific set of skills tied to certification for professional practice. Rather, political science is a liberal arts degree, which -- like most university majors -- is designed instead to prepare you broadly for professional development, critical thinking, citizenship, and lifelong learning. By completing a BA you develop many skills -- organizational, analytical, technological, research, writing, speaking and more -- which equip you for many different possible applications.


Graduates in political science go on to a full range of career paths including state, local, or federal government service, nonprofit and advocacy work, law, business, journalism, international careers, education, campaigns and polling, lobbying, public administration, social and marketing research, social work, and many other professional arenas. Some political science majors go directly into private, nonprofit, or public sector employment, while others continue their education by pursuing teaching credentials or advanced degrees from law schools and graduate schools.

Undergraduate advisors can provide career informational materials from the American Political Science Association. If you are nearing graduation and are looking for ways to put your skills to work, we also recommend you take advantage of the data, materials, and services provided by SDSU's Career Services.

This advising FAQ's may not contain the most up-to-date information. Students can find the most authoritative information about the major from the catalog. When you're still unsure about any aspect of our program, please direct your inquiries to an undergraduate advisor during his or her office hours. Check the department office (NH 126) for a list of current undergraduate advisors, their office hours and locations. You may also direct inquiries to [email protected].

Undergraduate Advisor

Professor Kim Twist
Office: Nasatir Hall (NH) 111
Email: [email protected]

Important Links