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College of Arts and Sciences

Frequently Asked Questions

department of political science

Can I take a course abroad that will fulfill my Social Science Core requirement?
Under certain circumstances, courses transferred from other institutions may be used to satisfy University Core requirements. This includes courses taken abroad. Please consult the Undergraduate Admission Core Requirements web site for further information on the Core. University Core requirements are administered by the A&S Core Committee, not by the Political Science Department. The University Core is directed by Professor Arthur Madigan, S.J.

Can I take a Core course during the summer?
Courses taken in the summer come under the same general rule about Core Courses taken elsewhere. These questions should be directed to the Core Director Professor Arthur Madigan, S.J.

Can I get Political Science credit for courses taken abroad?
The Department will give credit for courses taken abroad, provided that they are sufficiently focused on politics, government, public policy, or political philosophy. In many countries, universities do not have political science departments, in which case students may want to take a course on “The History and Government of [host country].” We will accept such courses as electives in the major. They may not be used to fulfill the department’s sub-field requirements (i.e., one course in each of the four sub-fields of Political Science). We will accept up to four such courses as electives. In no case can the major be finished with fewer than six courses taken in this department.

Can I fulfill my sub-field requirements with courses taken abroad?
Only courses taken in this department can be used to satisfy the requirement of one course in each of the four sub-fields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, and Political Theory.

How many classes can I transfer from abroad?
You may transfer, as electives in the major, as many as two classes for each semester abroad, to a maximum of four.

Can internships be counted for credit?
Internships are given one credit, and an internship credit does not fulfill any major requirements. You will be allowed only one internship credit. Consult the Career Center website.

I’m not in the Honors Program; how do I get in?
Each June we invite approximately 20-25 students from the rising Sophomore class into the Honors Program based on their GPA overall and in the major. Normally, a student will need at least three Political Science courses in order to establish a record on which we can base our decisions. Those students who are invited will receive letters in late June.

I’m not in the Honors Program, but I would still like to write a thesis during my Senior year.
Any student may write a thesis, provided that a faculty member is willing to supervise the project. The process begins by approaching a faculty member during the second semester of your Junior year with a proposal. The proposal initially may be nothing more than a general idea, and the faculty member will be chosen in part because he or she has some interest in the area that the student has chosen. It is helpful, although not necessary, that the faculty member know something of the student’s abilities, although that requirement may be satisfied by consultation with colleagues who have had the student in class. From there, the project will move forward, so that by the beginning of the Senior year, much of the initial work on the thesis will already have been completed.

How do I become a Political Science major?
If you are a second-semester Freshman, and it is after February 1 and not during registration period, you may automatically declare a major by sending an email to 2014@bc.edu. Major changes are suspended during the registration periods each semester, and second semester Freshmen have their major choices wiped out in January. This is done so that Freshmen can reassess their choice of major—you can always re-declare the Political Science major if you wish.

If you are a Sophomore, you must contact the department administrator Ms. Shirley Gee. To change to a Political Science major from some other major, contact Ms. Gee. At all times you may get assistance and information about changing or declaring a major from the staff at Student Services in Lyons Hall.

Do I have to take courses in any particular sequence? For example, can I take a 600-level course before I take a 400-level course?
The course numbering system in Political Science defines categories of courses, rather than steps on a ladder. Courses numbered 300-399 are American Politics courses, 400-499 are Comparative Politics courses, 500-599 are International Politics courses,and 600-699 are Political Theory courses. Courses that begin with a zero are Introductory courses; special courses that count as electives in Political Science but which do not satisfy the sub-field requirements, are numbered 200-299. These courses can be taken in any sequence, except for the Introductory courses, which should be taken first.

What are the sub-field requirements in Political Science?
The four separate sub-fields of Political Science are American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, and Political Theory. To major in Political Science, you must take at least one course in each of these sub-fields, and these courses must be taken in the department. They need not be taken in any particular order.

How can I get an internship? And can I get academic credit for an internship?
The department does not arrange internships for students; these must be found independently, although we do sometimes receive information about internship opportunities, which we will post on the department’s the web site. Students should exercise some caution when arranging internships. Make sure that you will have responsibilities more interesting than making coffee and running the copy machine.

Can I transfer political science courses from abroad?
You may transfer up to four courses from any other institution, including foreign-study programs. These will count as electives in the major—that is, not as sub-field courses.

Is there a way to minor in Political Science?
The Political Science Department does not offer a minor.

I transferred classes from my previous university or from a foreign study program, but they are not showing up on my Degree Audit under Political Science. What happened?
The University accepts courses for University credit, but allows departments to decide whether these courses will also satisfy major/minor requirements. To move the classes into the major, you need to see the Director of Undergraduate Studies Professor Dennis Hale or the Foreign Study Advisor Professor Gerald Easter who will sign the Course Waiver and Substitution Form, which you will then take to Student Services.

I tried to add (or drop) Political Science, but the system says I can’t do that now. Why not?
During the Registration periods in the Fall and Spring, Student Services locks the system so that no one can add or drop a major. You will be able to add or drop once the hold is taken off at the end of the Registration period.

How do I major or minor in International Studies? Is that part of the Political Science Department?
The International Studies Program is an interdisciplinary program. It is not run by the Political Science Department but by a special committee of faculty from several different departments, under the supervision of a director. The current director is Professor Robert Murphy of the Economics Department. Entrance to the International Studies major is competitive; anyone can minor in International Studies.

I just became a Political Science major, but I don’t have an advisor in the department. How can I get a member of the department as an advisor?
We try to make sure that every major has an advisor in the department, but sometimes that does not happen immediately. Until it does, you may always see the Undergraduate Director Professor Dennis Hale.

For some reason, the Office of Student Services has dropped me as a Political Science major. What happened?
The Advising Center requires that all Freshmen reacquire their majors in January. This is done so that students will have an opportunity to think about whether they want to keep the major they’ve chosen in the Fall. Simply follow their instructions for rejoining the Political Science major, if that is what you wish to do.

If I have a complaint about a faculty member, whom do I see?
You should first speak with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Associate Professor Dennis Hale, who will hear your complaint first, before you see the department Chair Professor Susan Shell.

How do I find out about speakers coming to the campus to give talks about politics?
Check your email; on most weekends during the academic year we will send out The Monday Page, which is a listing of speakers and events for the coming week.

I’m not getting emails that other Political Science majors are getting. Why not?
Check your mailbox; it might be full, or the University may have the wrong email address for you in its system.

Can I take a course in another department at Boston College and count it as a Political Science course?
Courses taken at Boston College will count as Political Science credit only if they are courses offered by (or cross-listed in) this department. A course that is cross-listed between Political Science and another department will have a PO number, as well as a number from the host department. Because they are in the University system with a PO number, they will automatically be listed under your Political Science major.

How many deficiencies can I make up with summer courses?
As with other kinds of non-BC courses, you may count only four courses taken elsewhere for the Political Science major. Courses taken in the summer might, however, satisfy other University requirements outside of Political Science.

What should I take after I take Fundamentals I?
The Fundamentals I courses (PO 041) is normally the first course a student will take in the major; the most common second course is Fundamentals II (PO 042). But, after Fundamentals I, there are other courses that can satisfy the second Introductory requirement, although they are not offered every year: PO 061 – Introduction to American Government) and PO 081 – Introduction to International Politics. In the future, we hope to offer other Introductory courses to fulfill the second half of the Fundamentals requirement; these courses will be identified by the prefix of zero.

What should I take after the two Introductory courses?
There is no set sequence of courses, and your choices after the first two Introductory courses will depend on your interests and the availability of courses and of seats. If you a rising Freshman, you may find many courses closed by the time you register. This is why we have special Sophomore Seminars, closed to all other classes. There are two of these: PO 360 – Rights in Conflict and PO 655 – The Question of Justice. When you register, be sure to check on the availability of these courses.

How do I arrange to do an individual research course in Political Science?
If you are interested in doing an independent research project—usually in the Junior or Senior year—and you are not in the Honors Program, you may speak with a faculty member to see if he or she would be interested in working with you. Usually this will mean speaking with a faculty member whose classes you have taken, and who is generally in the field in which you would like to do your research. You would enroll in your advisor’s section of PO 281 – Individual Research in Political Science I; this class requires a special Department Permission form, which is available in the department office at McGuinn 201. You and your faculty advisor will work out a well-defined topic, and you will be guided in seeking out research collections, constructing a bibliography, and determining what kind of written work is appropriate for the semester. Unlike a Thesis course, an Individual Research course does not necessarily result in a single, long paper at the end of the semester.