Study abroad is an excellent way for Political Science majors to gain a comparative and cross-cultural perspective on politics. Study abroad is encouraged by the department, so long as students have prepared themselves with a strong academic background and choose their study-abroad location with care, to assure that the courses taken abroad meet the department's expectations with respect to quality and content.
Students planning to go abroad will be given a form by the Office of International Programs (OIP), which must be filled out, in consultation with the department's study-abroad adviser. The purpose of this consultation is to make sure that a student is far enough along in the major so that he or she can finish in time to graduate and can successfully integrate the study abroad program with other academic plans. Students who are in the department's Honors Program, for example, need to plan carefully to coordinate study abroad with the Honors requirements. Information on specific foreign study opportunities can be obtained from the OIP, which is located at Hovey House.
To be eligible for elective course credits toward the Political Science major while studying abroad, students must have at least a 3.0 GPA generally and in the Political Science major before departing. If a student believes he or she should be exempted from this rule, he or she may discuss it with the department's study-abroad adviser. However, exemptions from this rule are rare.
Political Science majors should be aware that not all study-abroad sites available to Boston College students will have courses (credits) acceptable toward the major. Some sites lack political science departments or have weak political science offerings.
Foreign Language Fluency
Because gaining foreign language fluency is one of the main benefits of study abroad, Political Science majors seeking to study abroad in an English-speaking country need to have a compelling academic reason for doing so. Students who believe that their foreign language skills are not advanced enough to take college courses abroad in a foreign language should consider study-abroad programs in foreign language countries where universities offer their own students courses in English. Information about such programs can be obtained from the OIP at Hovey House.
The Department's study-abroad adviser can advise students about which programs and courses abroad will be acceptable. Although the OIP seeks to maintain updated lists of "pre-approved" sites and courses, those lists are not authoritative, and sites and courses on such lists may in fact no longer be acceptable to the department. Students are urged to gain approval for specific courses from the department's study-abroad adviser before departing. Students who seek approval only after they return from abroad risk not getting Political Science credit for study-abroad courses.
The Department will accept no more than two courses (six credits) per semester from an institution abroad, or four courses (12 credits) for an entire year. These courses (credits) will count as major electives only. The four courses (12 credits) for the field distributional requirement in the Political Science major (one each in American, Comparative, and International Politics and in Political Theory) must be taken at Boston College. No courses taken (credits earned) abroad will be accepted for these distributional requirements. Final approval of courses (credits) taken abroad requires the signature of the department's study-abroad adviser on the Approval Forms available from the OIP at Hovey House.
Students are encouraged to take as many courses in Political Science as they wish at other institutions, within the United States or abroad, but in all, no more than four courses (12 credits) taken at other institutions may be counted as elective courses toward the Political Science major. (The additional courses may count toward the total courses required for the B.A. degree.)