Study abroad is an excellent way for Political Science majors to gain a comparative and cross-cultural perspective on politics. The Political Science Department encourages students to study abroad, so long as they have a strong academic record and have prepared themselves. They should choose their study-abroad location with care, to ensure that the courses taken abroad meet the department's expectations with respect to quality and content.
Students planning to go abroad should begin the process with the Office of Global Education. Their office provides information on specific programs and steps for applying. After exploring the available options, students should consult with one of the Political Science Department’s study-abroad advisors. Advisors can help students confirm that they are far enough along in the major so that they can finish in time to graduate. Students who are in the department's Honors Program, for example, need to plan carefully to coordinate study abroad with the Honors requirements. The study abroad advisors also provide Department course approvals, as needed.
Note that the Office of Global Education requires all study abroad applicants to have a conversation with a faculty member about their study abroad plans. Students may fulfill this requirement by having a discussion with the Political Science study abroad advisor, their major advisor, or another faculty member on BC’s campus.
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 advisers. 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 Office of Global Education at Hovey House.
The Department's study-abroad advisers can advise students about which programs and courses abroad will be acceptable. Although the OGE 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 advisers before departing. Students who seek approval only after they return from abroad risk not getting Political Science credit for study-abroad courses. In the absence of pre-departure course approval, students should submit a course substitution form upon returning and not while taking the course.
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 advisers on the Approval Forms available from the Office of Global Education 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.)
The Department has two study-abroad advisers. Students thinking about studying abroad in Africa, Latin America, North America, Caribbean, Italy, or Spain, should contact Professor Honig. Students interested in studying abroad elsewhere in Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania should contact Professor Marcesse. Either advisor can meet with students who are interested in multiple regions.