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Department ofPolitical Science


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Where is the Political Science Department located?

We are located in Vari Hall 230 (across from the Admissions Building), 408-554-4508.

How does the Political Science Department communicate with majors?

The Political Science Department communicates with majors via their SCU email. The Political Science Department Newsletter is distributed every Friday via email. Newsletters include department announcements, internship and fellowship opportunities, and important deadlines.

Professors, advisor(s), and other departments also use email to communicate with students. Please check your SCU email regularly.

If an instructor tells me to pick something up in the student pick-up mailbox, where do I find it?

The student pick-up mailbox is located in our office.

How do I declare or drop a political science major, minor, or emphasis?

Please complete an online Program Petition Form available on the Registrar's website. You can submit multiple requests on the same form. Turnaround is typically 5-7 business days.

What is an emphasis?

Political science majors have an option to select an emphasis in public sector studies, international relations, or pre-law which will be noted on the student’s transcript. For more information, please review the Political Science Checklist for a list of required coursework.

I am considering adding a second (or third) major or a minor. Can you help me explore options and draft a two or four-year plan?

Several of our majors are double or, in rare cases, triple majors. With careful course planning, your faculty advisor can provide you with the proper guidance to help you map out a two or four-year plan. You can also schedule an appointment with Prof. Diana Morlang who teaches in our department and also works part-time in the Drahmann Advising Center (more info).

What is a peer advisor?

Peer advisors are fellow political science majors who work in our office and are available to answer questions regarding course scheduling, two or four-year plans, core or major requirements, Pathway/ELSJ requirements, internships, and extracurricular activities. These students are heavily involved on campus and are usually the first point of contact for any questions you may have. They are vested in your success and are happy to share advice on how to make the best of your time at SCU.

Peer advisors have completed internships and/or have participated in various programs such as the Washington Semester Program, the Leon Panetta Congressional Internship Program, and SCU's Study Abroad Program. They are also members of the Political Science Honors Program, Pi Sigma Alpha (the national Political Science honor society), and Associated Student Government.

If you'd like to schedule an appointment with a peer advisor, please email our department manager or stop by our office.

Who is my faculty advisor?

Check eCampus for your advisor assignment. Double and triple majors will have one faculty advisor per department.

Your faculty advisor will assist you with everything a peer advisor provides and can also provide guidance on internships, career exploration, graduate school and law school. We highly recommend that you meet with your advisor within the first month of joining our department.

Can I request to change my faculty advisor?

Yes. Please contact our department manager.

What is mandatory advising?

In April and May each year, all first-years, sophomores, and juniors are required to complete mandatory advising. This requires a face-to-face meeting with 1) a POLI peer advisor and 2) your faculty advisor. Students who do not complete mandatory advising in the spring will not be permitted to register for fall classes. We will send an email the first week of spring quarter with details and signup information.

Double (and triple) majors are required to complete a mandatory advising session with each department. Each department handles mandatory advising differently. Please reach out the other department(s) to ensure your advising holds are released before your fall registration appointment.

What is a degree audit?

A degree audit tracks progress towards your degree and should be reviewed regularly via eCampus, after grades post each quarter. If you notice any discrepancies, please contact our office.

How do I petition to graduate?

Graduation Petition Forms are due to the Political Science Department at least 2-3 weeks prior to the Registrar's deadline to allow ample time for review. Please review graduation deadlines guidelines here.

What are the prerequisites for upper-division political science courses?

Upper-division political science courses vary in their prerequisites. Typically, an upper-division class will require the lower-division class of that same subfield to be taken beforehand. Please see the Undergraduate Bulletin and/or CourseAvail for more information.

What is a Pathway?

Pathways supplement the Core Curriculum and prepare students for intelligent, responsible and creative citizenship.

Pathways, clusters of courses with a common theme, promote integrative and intentional learning. More specifically, they cultivate the ability to make intentional and reflective educational choices, to study a theme from a number of disciplinary or methodological perspectives, and to perceive connections and relationships among ideas.

All students must declare a pathway by the end of their sophomore year. Most POLI majors select the following pathways: American Studies (ETHN double); Democracy (PHIL double); Public Policy (ECON); and Law & Social Justice (pre-law emphasis). If you have questions regarding Pathways, please check the SCU website or stop by our office to speak to a peer advisor.

Note: Transfer students must declare a Pathway by the end of their first year at SCU, however, we highly recommend that you declare earlier to take advantage of double dippers for core and major requirements. Students transferring with 44+ units are only required to complete 3 of 4 Pathways courses.

Do any political science courses fulfill Core Curriculum or Pathway requirements?

Yes. There are a number of political science courses that fulfill a Core Curriculum or Pathway requirement in addition to fulfilling a major requirement. These are known as "double dippers."

For a list of POLI double dippers, please review this document (you must be logged in to your SCU Google account to access the file).

For a list of POLI courses that count towards a Pathway requirement, please visit the Provost's website.

Does the Political Science Department provide internship and fellowship information for majors?

The Department of Political Science encourages students to work as interns during their time at Santa Clara University. Internships can provide valuable opportunities through which students can gain hands-on job experience, learn more about organizations and careers, develop useful skills and habits, and interact with leaders and members of the community. Political science students often intern for elected officials, government agencies, public law offices, and non-profit organizations.

We offer three options for those interested in receiving course credit for internship work: POLI 198A and POLI 198B 5-units); POLI 198EL (5-units); and POLI 198 (2-units).

In addition to internships, there are also several fellowship opportunities for undergraduate students.

For more information, please visit our Internship and Fellowship page or contact our internship coordinator, Professor Matthew Harrigan.

Does SCU have a Political Science Honors Program?

Yes. Please visit the Political Science Honors Program page to learn about membership criteria and the process for obtaining membership.

In addition to the Political Science Honors Program offered by our department, eligible rising juniors and seniors can apply for the national political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha. Look for the email from our department in early spring.

Does the department offer pre-registration for majors?

Yes. Political science majors are eligible to pre-register for political science courses each quarter. Look for the pre-registration email from the department admin during Weeks 4 and 5.

Please contact our department manager, Casey Robertson (, if you have further questions.