Political Science Major Guide for 2011-2012

What is Political Science

Political Science is the systematic study of politics and government. It is a broad and diverse discipline ranging from the study of political philosophy to the analysis of international terrorism. Political Science attends to the theory and practice of government at all levels from local to international, as well as to the complex relationships between social values and the formulation of public policy. The Political Science curriculum is divided into the following areas:

  • U.S. Government and Politics/ Public Administration
  • Comparative Government and Politics
  • International Relations
  • Political Theory

As a blend of the theoretical and the practical, Political Science provides a broad liberal arts background for professional careers in law, government service, foreign service, business, journalism, and education. It offers a good foundation for those wishing to pursue postgraduate study, especially in the fields of law, political science, and public administration.

Career Opportunities in Political Science

Political science majors upon completion of their Bachelor of Arts degree undertake a variety of career paths. Many continue with their education in law or graduate school and then practice law, work for public agencies, or become college educators. Upon graduation, it is common for majors, especially those who have completed internships, directly to go to work in politics and government for political candidates, organized groups, and public officials. Those who meet State certification requirements may become secondary school social studies teachers.

Salary Trends in Political Science

An Arts and Sciences degree can propel you in limitless directions. Majors are not always the deciding factor as to what career path you follow. As with any degree, your pre-professional experiences (volunteerism, work experience, internships, etc) enhance your chances at obtaining desired employment and further guide where you fall on the salary continuum.

High School Preparation

A broad background in social studies (history, geography, sociology, psychology) is excellent preparation for a Political Science major. Specific classes in civics and economics are highly recommended. Participation in extracurricular activities such as student government, mock trial, debate, and forensics develop skills of great use in this major. Students are encouraged to take any high school AP credit courses in government available at their school as these can be applied to meeting prerequisites to the major.

How to Major in Political Science

Students can declare a major in Political Science at any time. Political Science 101 U.S. Government and Politics or 107 Honors U.S. Government and Politics and 102 Introduction to Political Science are prerequisites to the major. It is required that students complete the prerequisite courses before declaring the major. These courses can also be applied to the Arts and Sciences Divisional Distribution in Social Science requirement.

Requirements for Political Science

Students must complete 24 hours of upper division course work (classes numbered 300 and above) in Political Science for a major. This must include at least one class in each of the four areas of the major:

  • United States Government and Politics/Public Administration: 311, 312, 315, 320, 321, 330, 340, 341, 401, 410, 411, 412, 420, 421, 425, 430, 431, 435, 440, 441, 442, and 445
  • Comparative Government and Politics: 350, 361, 364, 451, 452, 454, 456, 459, 461, and 463
  • International Relations: 365, 366, 370, 470, 471, 473, and 474
  • Political Theory: 300, 374, 475, and 476

The remaining 12 hours are considered Political Science electives and may include any courses numbered 300 or above—excluding 494 Internship, which may not be applied to the major hours.

Minor in Political Science: Prerequisites to the minor are the same as for a major (101 or 107 and 102) plus 15 hours of credit in courses numbered 300 and above.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

Concentration in Public Administration: For students interested in preparing for a career in public service, the department offers a 27 hour program, which combines work in political science and business with an emphasis on public finance. For details see the Undergraduate Catalog or the departmental web page at http://web.utk.edu/~polisci/.
Internships: Up to 6 hours of credit is available for internships involving work in politics and government. Before engaging in the internship, students must apply to the department, and upon acceptance, will be allowed to enroll in the Political Science 494 Internship course. Credit extended is S/NC only.

Highlights of Political Science

Honors in Political Science: The Honors concentration is normally a two year, 27 hour program including specific coursework in the junior year and completion of a thesis in the senior year. It encourages highly motivated students to obtain a superior liberal education and more rigorous preparation in the discipline. Students must apply and admission is selective. For details see the Undergraduate Catalog or the departmental web page at http://web.utk.edu/~polisci/.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

Political Science majors who study abroad can learn about the politics of other countries and regions, enhance their foreign language skills, and gain a unique perspective on world politics.  The Department of Political Science works with the UTK Programs Abroad Office to find study abroad opportunities for its students.  In addition, each year the Department sends a contingent of students (with a faculty supervisor) to China for a unique study abroad experience.  Any student interested in studying abroad should meet with his/her academic advisor as early as possible to plan an appropriate course of study.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Sample Curriculum

Following this four-year plan will help you stay on track to graduate in four years.  Milestone courses have been identified as the minimum courses that must be completed.

Freshman Year Credit Hours
English Composition 6
Foreign Language 6
Natural Science Lab Sequence 8
Quantitative Reasoning 6-8
Political Science 101 or 107 3
Electives 0-1
Milestone courses: English 101, Quantitative Reasoning (3 hrs) and Political Science 101 or 102
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Non US History Sequence 6
Natural Science 3
Foreign Language or General Electives 6
Arts and Humanities 6
Political Science 102 3
Social Sciences 6
Milestone courses: English 102, elementary foreign language proficiency, natural science (3-4 hrs) and Political Science 101 or 102
Junior Year Credit Hours
Political Science (major) 12
Arts and Humanities 3
Upper Level Distribution 6
Communicating Through Writing 3
Communicating Orally 3
General Electives 3
Senior Year Credit Hours
Political Science (major) 12
General Electives 6
Upper Division Electives 12
GRAND TOTAL (minimum) 120

For More Information

Department of Political Science
(865) 974-2261



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.