This page is for new first-year students attending UGA’s 2021 New Student Orientation remotely. Please read through each section below explaining SPIA’s programs, advising, and orientation registration.

Office of Student Affairs & Advising

The Office of Student Affairs is the home of academic advising in SPIA. Our staff or advisors are here to help you achieve your academic goals in The School.

Paul leads the office; Kevin advises and reviews students for graduation; Joe advises and helps students with internships to add academic components; Jamie and Russ advise students; Kathryn advises as well as identifies placements in public agencies for student internships, and Misty supports everyone – she’s the first person you meet in Candler Hall.

SPIA Leadership

It is important to know the leadership of the School.

Our dean is Matthew Auer and our Associate Dean is John Maltese. Our advising staff reports to Dean Maltese.

The department heads for our undergraduate majors are Scott Ainsworth in political science and Amanda Murdie in international affairs. Undergraduate coordinators in the departments have responsibility for decisions about course offerings, exceptions, and curricular changes like new courses in each department. They are Jamie Carson in political science and Leah Carmichael in international affairs.

In addition to their administrative and leadership duties, they all teach courses in their respective departments, too. Dean Maltese in Constitutional Law, Prof. Ainsworth on lobbying and influence, Prof. Murdie on terrorism, Prof. Carson on Congressional politics, and Dr. Carmichael on international law and the politics of food.

UGA General Education Requirements

By now, you should have an idea of the structure of the general education requirements at UGA through the Bulletin Worksheet. It’s ok if you don’t understand it fully now, we’re here to help. There are 6 areas. Areas I-V are generally the same across campus, but VI is unique to each major.

In our advice to you, we’ll look at area 6 as a place to identify courses which you’ll likely enjoy and find success. Your advisor will also introduce you to efficiencies in your choices to meet multiple requirements with one course. One way SPIA majors do this is by selecting particular courses in some areas because of the SPIA wide requirements.

SPIA Wide Requirements

The School has its own set of requirements for students to meet:

  • Literature
  • Fine Arts, Philosophy & Religion
  • Foreign Language
    • Third Term for POLS
    • Fourth Term for INTL
  • Economics
  • Quantitative
  • Statistics or Calculus
  • Cultural Diversity

All SPIA students are required to take a literature beyond ENGL 1102; 2 3-credit-hour courses in fine arts (like art history or theatre), philosophy, or religion; a foreign language through the third term course for political science majors and through the fourth term course for international affairs majors; one course in economics from either ECON 2105 “Introduction to Macroeconomics” or ECON 2106 “Introduction to Microeconomics”; a quantitative course from a specific set of choices including STAT 2000 Elementary Statistics and MATH 2250 Calculus; and a course from a broad list for cultural diversity.

A quick word about foreign language: because this requirement is sequential, we encourage SPIA students to begin on it right away. We want you to reach a certain level of competency – not necessarily a number of courses – and you want to avoid interrupting your language studies later in your academic career.

Another word about the quantitative requirement: most SPIA students will find the most efficient choice to finish all quantitative requirements is taking STAT 2000 as it will satisfy Area I, Area III, and the SPIA requirement.

Next, please select the major you plan to pursue in SPIA.

International Affairs Major Requirements for AB Degree

It’s possible you may take your first major courses in the spring. Regardless, it’s good to have a general idea of the structure of your major. The coursework in international affairs begins usually in the first year with INTL 1100 “Introduction to Global Issues” in area VI, after which you’ll be ready for the next courses in the major.

  • Focus on International Relations & Comparative Politics
    • INTL 3200 Introduction to International Relations
    • INTL 3300 Introduction to Comparative Politcs
    • 2 courses in topics in International Relations
    • 2 courses in topics in Comparative Politics
    • 4 additional course in International Affairs
      • No more than 2 transfer courses may apply towards these 10

In your second year – usually; it can be earlier – students take both INTL 3200 and 3300. Both of these are required for all IA majors and having either one of them is the pre-requisite to all of the other major courses you take. It’s unimportant which one is taken first and they may be taken together after you take INTL 1100. Beyond 3200 and 3300, the major requires 8 additional courses: 2 in international relations topics; 2 in comparative politics topics; and 4 additional INTL courses of your choice. You have a lot of flexibility in the major to take courses you’re interested in and there is quite a bit of overlap in the areas. Ideally, you’re taking at least two major courses each term your third and fourth year to spread your coursework efficiently.

It’s worth noting that the IA major is topically focused. There are no regional specialties built into the major. You can build your own area focus through your choices in foreign language, literature, general education requirements, electives, minors and second majors and with choices within your classes such as paper topics and term projects, for example.

For our transfer students, keep in mind that SPIA allows two transfer courses to apply towards the 10 for the major, but no more.

Political Science Major Requirements for AB Degree

While some students may not begin major courses in the spring, it’s good to have a general idea of the structure of your major. If you’re pursuing a AB degree with a major in political science, then after you take POLS 1101 you’ll be ready for any of the courses in the major. Typically, this happens in the fall of your second year; but it can happen earlier.

The AB major requires 10 courses (¼ of your degree): 2 in political theory, philosophy, and research methods; 2 in American government and politics including law and courts courses; and 6 additional POLS courses of your choice.

  • Overview
    • 2 courses in research methods, political theory & philosophy
    • 2 courses in American government, politics & law & courts
    • 6 courses in political science electives

You have a lot of flexibility in the major to take courses you’re interested in. Most POLS majors pursue the AB. For our transfer students, keep in mind that SPIA allows two transfer courses to apply towards the 10 for the major, but no more.

Political Science Major Requirements for BS Degree

While some students may not begin major courses in the spring, it’s good to have a general idea of the structure of your major. Students pursuing a BS degree with a major in political science begin, of course, with POLS 1101, after which they’ll be ready for any of the courses in the major. Typically, this happens in the fall of the second year; but it can happen earlier. For many of our BS majors the best choice for the second POLS course and first major course is POLS 2000. 2000 is a basic introduction to research methods and formal theory which is the emphasis of the BS degree.

  • Focus on Theory, Research, and Analytical Skills
    • 2 courses in Research Methods
    • 1 course in Formal Political Theory
    • 1 additional course in Theory or Methods
    • 3 courses in American government, politics & law & courts
    • 3 courses in political science elective

Overall, the BS major requires 10 courses (¼ of your degree): 2 in research methods (this is where POLS 2000 applies); 1 course in formal theory (courses like “Game Theory” and “Social Choice and Elections”); 1 more course from other theory or methods classes; at least 3 classes in American government and politics including law and courts courses; and 3 additional POLS courses of your choice. You have a lot of flexibility in the major to take courses you’re interested in.

While most POLS majors pursue the AB, the BS is an outstanding fit for anyone interested in developing quantitative analytical skills. Most of the time, BS students will arrive with advanced quantitative coursework or credit; if not, then they will want to take both STAT 2000 elementary statistics and MATH 2250 Calculus early in their career at UGA.

For our transfer students, keep in mind that SPIA allows two transfer courses to apply towards the 10 for the major, but no more.


A degree from UGA requires a minimum of 120 credit hours. General Education requirements make up approximately 60 credit hours and all SPIA majors are 30 hours. That leaves at least 30 hours – often more due to “double counting” area VI courses – of general electives.

General electives can be any academic course you choose. The entire universe of academic offerings at UGA are potential elective courses. You get to choose what you take and any academic course offered at UGA will apply.

Many SPIA students opt to pursue second majors, minors, or certificates with their elective hours. In these instances, there are no “perfect” or “recommended” second majors or minors for SPIA students. The best option is to find what one is interested in and pursue that!

SPIA offers three minors:

SPIA also offers three certificate programs which are similar to minors, but are inter-disciplinary and offer more flexibility:

By far, the most common double major for SPIA is political science and international affairs. Beyond that combination, the numbers are much smaller and include journalism, public relations, history, economics, and Spanish.

Keep in mind, you can use these hours to explore all the university has to offer: second majors or minors are not required.

Your academic advisor can offer insights and information on programs and courses in SPIA and across campus. They will be much more able to help you if you share your interests and goals. They know campus and can help you learn more about the different opportunities UGA offers.

Other Requirements

First-Year students should plan to take a First-Year Odyssey (FYOS) course during their first semester. FYOS courses focus on narrow, highly specialized, and interesting topics with a faculty member in a small, seminar setting of around 10 students. They give first-year students an opportunity to connect with a faculty mentor and learn closely the mission and goals of a flagship research university like UGA.

The Residency Requirement for UGA is important in particular for transfer students to know. 45 of your last 60 hours must be UGA courses. No matter how many hours one may transfer to UGA with, they will take at least 45 at UGA. Additionally, within SPIA majors there is a residency requirement that at least 8 of your major courses are taken at UGA.

Another important University-wide requirement is UGA’s “39 hour rule.” The 39 Hour Rule requires at least 39 credit hours for graduation must come from 3000 to 5000 numbered – upper-level – courses. SPIA majors are almost always completed with 30 hours of upper-level courses meaning our students need to take at least 9 hours of upper-level courses as electives.

A newer requirement which will dictate your selection of general education science courses is the Environmental Awareness Requirement. Your advisor will direct you towards courses which will meet this requirement, particularly those which easily combine to meet Area II.

PE Requirement: UGA students are required to take a PE course before graduation. You only need one and please keep in mind PE courses simply check off a box – they do not count as elective hours.

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.

To this end, all UGA students must meet the Experiential Learning Requirement (ELR). SPIA students meet ELR in one of several ways:

In SPIA, INTL 4622R “GLOBIS Human Rights Lab” is a research-intensive course and courses with applied components include INTL 4415 and 4425 which are courses associated with the Security Leadership Program and POLS 4645E “Applied Civic Engagement.” The SPIA Survey Research Center also offers POLS 5140 “Survey Research Internship” and POLS 5141 “Research in Public Opinion”.

For more information about internship and fellowship programs in SPIA, visit the SPIA Experiential Learning page.

Opportunities in SPIA

All SPIA students are added to the SPIADVIS listserv to which we send a weekly newsletter about events and opportunities across the School and University. These weekly highlights are digested and cataloged at our new SPIA Resource Central in eLc. SPIA Resource Central is a hub of current information for SPIA students including these announcements about internships and events as well as on-going programs for SPIA students, like:

These programs are unique to UGA and SPIA, offering you the chance to work closely with faculty and practitioners in public affairs, policy, and politics.

Academic Advising

Advising in SPIA is straight-forward. Per UGA policy, advising is required every fall and spring term before one can register, and occurs by appointment which you make via SAGE, UGA’s advising web scheduler.

You have tools at your disposal to help you understand and plan your degree plans: DegreeWorks is an audit which helps you understand how your credits apply and what requirements you have remaining. DegreeWorks is the tool advisors use to help advise you. The UGA Bulletin – which you may have seen via the Bulletin Worksheet and linked throughout this page – is the official record of the curriculum and requirements students must meet to graduate. It contains information on all the available programs, majors, minors, and course requirements at UGA.

Finally, Athena is used to register for courses, update your programs, find and request your records and much more.

Students should schedule an advising appointment well in advance of registration. Advising appointments in SPIA begin every fall after Labor Day and after MLK Day in the spring. Remember, your advising appointment and registration time are different: you will make your advising appointment via SAGE and the Office of the Registrar will assign you a registration time via Athena.

At your appointment each term you and your advisor will go over how your credits apply and what you left and, hopefully, have fruitful conversations about academic goals and options for you. You can always follow up with them with your questions and with Mr. Adam Paige for career development and internship questions.

Academic Advising for Orientation 2021

For Orientation, advising functions a little bit differently. We continue to work remotely with orientation this summer.

You got to this presentation from our initial e-mail from to your UGA e-mail account.

After you complete your review of this webpage, we’ll ask you to follow up with a short quiz. Once we have confirmation you completed the quiz, you’ll be assigned to an advisor in SPIA. At that point, your advisor will send you an advising email with personalized advice for fall registration after which you’ll have the option to schedule a virtual appointment using SAGE.

The advising e-mail from your advisor will offer you an overview of how any credits (AP or IB or SAT Subject Tests or Dual Enrollment for first-year students and courses from other schools for transfer students) you have are applying to your program, your remaining requirements, and some specific advice about what to schedule for the fall.

At that point, your advising hold will be removed and you can register for classes.

You can also opt to schedule a virtual face-to-face meeting via SAGE with your advisor. If you will not be able to secure a private setting for a virtual meeting, please follow-up on the FERPA release for advising introduced early in orientation.

There is no planned in-person event for SPIA students adjacent to the optional in-person orientation events. Advisors invite you to visit us when you arrive to campus for move-in and will follow-up with details via e-mail as that time approaches.

Follow SPIA

SPIA’s social media accounts can be useful follows for information on upcoming events, special opportunities offered by The School, internships, and getting engaged.

Instagram: @uga_spia

Twitter: @uga_spia

Facebook: /spiauga

Conclusion & Required Review

Finally, please follow this link to a short quiz on the information presented here. Once we’ve gotten confirmation you’ve done it, your advisor will be in touch via e-mail.

Follow this link to the required SPIA Orientation Review:

Welcome to UGA and SPIA! Remember: You never bark alone! If you need help, e-mail your advisor! They are here to answer your questions about academics at UGA and help you be successful!