The Bachelor of Arts (AB) in Political Science offers students interested in developing a broader and deeper understanding of politics the opportunity to do so within a structured program of study.  The faculty’s interests cover most specialties within political science. A range of courses cover politics in the United States, important debates in political philosophy, legal and constitutional issues, research skills and other topics.

The Department’s faculty have won every teaching award that the University of Georgia has to offer, and is widely known on campus to provide an extremely high level of excellence in classroom instruction and student engagement.

Departmental Requirements

Course Requirements

Students begin their political science coursework within the general education core curriculum with POLS 1101 “Introduction to American Government” (or its honors equivalent POLS 1105H).  POLS 1101 must be completed prior to taking all subsequent upper-level major specific coursework.  The major requires 30 hours of 3000-4999 level coursework (10 courses) beyond POLS 1101.  These 30 hours include at least 6 hours of Theory and Methods courses and 6 hours of American Studies courses.  The remaining 12 hours may be taken any upper-level POLS courses, with no more than 6 hours from INTL and PADP courses. All courses for the major must have a grade of “C” or better and no more than 6 hours of transfer credit may be counted toward the major.

Fields of Study

The department’s course requirements and offerings reflect its desire to provide a major with an appropriate mix of breadth and specialization.  Courses are divided into two broad fields: theory and methods and American studies.

Theory and Methods (T/M) courses address theory in two senses of the term.  One examines questions that have dominated political debates for centuries and the leading thinkers who have studied these questions.  The other type of theory offers ways of explaining and understanding political events.  Methods courses develop the skills needed to test these suggested explanations as well as to study the topics covered in the other subfields. A list of approved courses for the theory and methods requirement is available in Appendix I.

American Studies (AS) courses cover politics in the United States, including institutions such as the Congress and the Presidency, types of political behavior such as voting behavior, issues relevant to local, state, and national government, the legal system including constitutional law, as well as public administration and policy. Courses approved for use towards the American studies requirement are listed in Appendix I.

Brief course descriptions and archived syllabi are searchable online at the UGA Bulletin under the “courses” tab.

Major elective courses comprise additional courses from the above areas. Students take an additional six courses (18 hours) of upper-division coursework from Political Science (POLS) with no more than 2 courses from the other departments in the School of Public and International Affairs: International Affairs (INTL), or Public Administration and Policy (PADP). No more than 6 of those hours may be from internship credits in Political Science (POLS).

Course Descriptions and Honors Options

Brief course descriptions and syllabi for POLS classes, as well as other SPIA classes, are available and searchable through the online UGA Bulletin under the “courses” tab.

Many POLS courses are offered as exclusively Honors classes and are designated with an “H” suffix. Any non-honors course taught by a tenured or tenure-track faculty member may be taken as an “honors option” course. Please speak with an advisor in SPIA or the Honors Program for more information on the “honors option.”

Additionally, all SPIA departments offer online courses. These courses are designated with an “E” suffix.

Minor Requirements

Students completing a minor are required to pass 15 hours of upper-level Political Science (POLS) courses with a grade of “C” or better. The minor requires at least 6 hours of Theory and Methods courses and 6 hours of American Studies courses. The other 3 hours may be from any of the fields in the major.  The complete requirements for a minor are outlined in the UGA Bulletin.

SPIA Requirements

All students in the School of Public and International Affairs are required to complete certain course requirements as part of their program of study in any major.  Many of these required proficiencies apply to all UGA students and are consistent with the area requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree. Academic advisors will assist students in completing the SPIA requirements by identifying classes that are consistent with and complement students’ interests and intellectual or career objectives.  Please note that one course may not satisfy more than one SPIA requirement.  The SPIA requirements include foreign language, literature, fine arts/humanities, quantitative skills, economics, and cultural diversity; courses that satisfy these requirements are set forth in Appendix II to the Political Science Handbook.


Students intending to major in Political Science must also satisfy the requirements for the AB degree as specified in the University’s Undergraduate Bulletin as noted above, a number of these requirements overlap with SPIA requirements. Appendix III to the Political Science Handbook provides a recommended approach to completing the general education core curriculum area-by-area for Political Science majors.

Advising & Registration

Currently enrolled students must be advised each term before they register for the next term’s classes. In SPIA, academic advising is provided by appointment with the student’s assigned advisor.  Students must schedule advising appointments online through SAGE (Student Advising and Guidance Expert). During the appointment, students and advisors will review the student’s academic progress and discuss course options for the remaining degree requirements. Students are also encouraged to track their programs of study independently with the help of Degree Works. After the student has been advised, the advisor will remove the student’s advising “hold” in Athena, the UGA online class registration system,  so that the student may register for classes each semester.  Questions about appointments, SAGE, or any other element of the advising system may be directed to the Advising Office at 706-542-0096.

During the second or third week of the fall and spring terms, the SPIA Advising Office sends notifications to all students with current information on advising and advising appointments for the term.  These notifications are made via the SPIADVIS listserv and SPIA webpages. Students are expected to be subscribed to the SPIADVIS listserv and obligated to check their email accounts regularly for notifications from the Advising Office.

Students who are living away from Athens during the fall or spring term are responsible for coordinating advising via e-mail.  Students who miss their advising appointments must contact their advisor to reschedule before they can register for classes.

Walk-In Hours

For follow-up questions related to advising or other issues (study abroad, internships, etc.), advisors are available from 2 to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. These times are not intended for advising or for lifting advising holds, which require a formal advising appointment.

Declaring the Major

Currently enrolled UGA students may declare a major in political science at any time via Athena by selecting the “Student” tab, and then the “My Programs” tab.  Always add the major you want first before deleting any programs from your records.  Minors and Certificate Programs may be added in the same location in Athena. Once the political science major is added, please contact the advising office in Candler Hall at 706- 542-0096 to schedule your initial advising appointment and to be assigned a SPIA advisor.

If you have any problems or issues accessing Athena or making adjustments to your academic programs, please call the Office of the Registrar at 706-542-4040.

SPIA encourages prospective students interested in majoring in political science at UGA to mark their intention on the application for admission.

Please note: SPIA does not require special application to any of its majors. Any UGA student may declare a SPIA major at any time by simply following the required steps in Athena.

Experiential Learning Requirement

The University of Georgia has taken a significant step toward ensuring that all of its students engage in the kinds of hands-on experiences that enhance learning and position them for success after graduation.

For more information, visit the SPIA Experiential Learning page.

Grading Policy


Information on course withdrawals may be found online in the UGA Bulletin.

If a student experiences significant personal hardship (e.g., medical or family emergency or prolonged illness), the Office of the Dean of Students may approve a hardship withdrawal from all courses in the term for which a student is currently registered. The deadline for final approval of a hardship withdrawal is the last day of classes for that semester. If the hardship withdrawal process is not complete by the last day of classes, a student must appeal for a retroactive hardship withdrawal from the Educational Affairs Committee. For more information about the appeal process, click here.

Incomplete Grades

An “Incomplete” (I) indicates that a student was doing satisfactory work but, for non-academic reasons beyond his/her control, was unable to complete the full requirements of the course prior to the semester’s conclusion. An Incomplete is not available unless the student has completed a substantial portion of the course requirements. The course instructor should indicate to the student the deadline for completing the remaining work in the course. No more than three semesters (counting summer school as one semester) may be allowed to complete the work, but the instructor may specify an earlier deadline. If an “I” is not satisfactorily removed after three semesters, the Registrar will change the “I” grade to an “F” (or to a “U” for a course graded S/U).

Please note: To submit the final grade, the instructor follows the change of grade process. The student does need not and should not register for the course again. The “I” grade is not included in the grade point average computation.

Grade Appeals

If a student believes that a grade was erroneously assigned, the student should follow these steps:

  1. The student should discuss the matter with the course instructor.
  2. If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of that meeting, the student will need to submit a letter of appeal to the Head of the Department of Political Science.
  3. If the matter is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction by the Department Head, a letter of appeal may be submitted to Paul Welch, Director of Student Services, who will assemble an appeals committee to consider the appeal.
  4. The final level of grade appeal within SPIA is directed to the Dean.

The student may continue the appeals process outside of SPIA.  To do so, the student should follow the guidelines established by the Office of Vice President for Instruction.

Academic Honesty

The University expects all of its students to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity, including in their research and classroom work.  Students are responsible for knowing the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

Courses at Other Institutions

Transfer Credits

The Undergraduate Admissions Office initially evaluates and determines whether transfer credits may be granted for non-UGA coursework. Appropriate UGA course numbers are then assigned to courses credited from other institutions.  In some cases, International Affairs and Political Science courses that are transferred will not receive UGA course numbers because there is no clear UGA equivalent. Advisors are available to answer students’ questions about transfer credit and the appropriate corollary courses at UGA.

Study at Other Institutions after Admission to UGA

UGA students may take courses at other institutions on a transient basis.  The Admissions Office has an equivalency list of many lower-division courses taught at other colleges and universities.

UGA participates in the National Student Exchange (NSE), which allows students to enroll in courses at participating universities and colleges around the country.  UGA students pay tuition and fees as if they were in residence at UGA, but room and board costs are paid to the host school.  To participate, student must be enrolled at UGA full time and have a GPA of 2.5 or better.  NSE courses are treated as transfer credits.  The Admissions Office determines how the courses will be listed on the UGA transcript.

Directed Readings & Projects

Directed readings courses offer students an opportunity to work closely with a faculty mentor on a topic of mutual interest not covered by a regularly offered course. These projects can sometimes relate to a research project or offer the student the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of a particular issue or problem. Students wishing to take a directed readings course must register for POLS 4960 “Directed Projects and Readings.” For more information on arranging a directed readings course, students should contact their academic advisor in Candler Hall or a faculty member directly. Directed readings courses for Honors students are administered through the Honors Program Office.

Life After the Degree

Political Science graduates pursue a variety of career paths.  Some pursue graduate degrees for careers as scholars, lawyers, civil servants, or public managers.  Others enter the job market in the private or nonprofit sectors.  Some even try politics as a career.

Graduate School

SPIA undergraduates frequently pursue graduate degrees in Political Science, International Relations, Comparative Politics, Public Policy, or Public Administration.

During the third year, students should develop a list of universities to which they might apply and gather information about them. Although deadlines vary, most schools will require applications to be submitted by January or February of the student’s senior year to be admitted for the following fall.

Most graduate programs will decide whether to admit students based on the student’s undergraduate record,  Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, letters of recommendation, and other factors such as personal statement.

SPIA offers MA and PhD degrees in Political Science and International Affairs, MPA and PhD degrees in Public Administration, and the Master of International Policy (focusing on national security and intelligence issues).

Law School

Political Science is one of several excellent majors for students interested in going to law school. Students planning on entering law school in the year following graduation must submit their application, LSAT scores, and all other required materials in the late fall or early spring of the senior year.  Students interested in law school are encouraged to add the Pre-Law designation to their academic profile.

UGA’s Pre-Law Advising Office offers workshops, law school fairs, and individual pre-law advising to UGA students.

The law school application process has become increasingly centralized.  Rather than writing recommendation letters to each law school to which a student applies, professors generally send a single letter to the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC).  When asking faculty members to serve as references, students should be prepared to provide professors with a resume, transcript, and other materials such as statements of purpose and a research paper or other writing samples.

Career Development

Job Market and Career Outcomes Survey

A major in political science provides valuable knowledge and skills needed in many occupations.  Leaders and professionals in business, nonprofit, and government organizations often work with political and governmental agencies and institutions as a major part of their responsibilities.  Many of these organizations are involved in international activities or even have an international focus. The Career Center assists students with job hunting, resume writing, interviewing techniques, and other important matters.  It also sponsors job fairs and employer interview sessions.  Students should begin working with the Career Center as early as possible.

Collaboration between SPIA & the Career Center

Kyle Poe is the career consultant for SPIA majors at the UGA Career Center. He is available by appointment by calling 706-542-3375.