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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Political Science

Dorian Warren speaks at the New Media and the 2012 Election panel

Areas of Study

Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective students

What are your classes like?

Our classes are small, with most upper-division classes capped at 30 students. Our professors use a variety of educational methods to encourage understanding of course material, with written assignments and weekly reading requirements.

Professors promote cooperative, student-centered learning. Some of our classes involve service learning, through partnerships with organizations throughout the community. A few classes are being taught with online or hybrid-online components.

Want to experience a political science class for yourself? Register for a DU visit!

Do you offer internships?

We place students in internships in the state legislature, the offices of Colorado's congressional delegation, political campaigns, advocacy organizations, legal services, the district attorney's office and the public defender's office.

The department has links with many community organizations, and we offer students the advantages of living in a major metropolitan area.

To earn academic credit for internships, we offer a fall Campaign Internship Seminar during each major election year.

For current job and internship openings, visit our Portfolio page.

To which graduate schools have department graduates gone?

Stanford and Columbia universities are among the political science graduate programs at which our students recently have been admitted. For law school, our alumni are attending UCLA, University of Vermont, Lewis and Clark, the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Denver.

Does the department accept AP scores for credit?

Yes, the University accepts AP credit for the U.S. Government and Politics test and the Comparative Government and Politics test.

U.S. Government and Politics is usually counted toward PLSC 1000: Intro to American Politics, for 4.0-credit hours—for a score of 4 or 5 on the AP test.

Comparative Government and Politics is usually counted toward PLSC 1110: Comparing Politics Around the World, worth 4.0-credit hours—for a score of 4 or 5 on the AP test.

Can I transfer credits from another school to the political science major?

Yes, students can transfer up to 20 credits from another institution (including study abroad programs) to the political science major.

If you're an incoming student, please speak with the Office of Admission to make sure you meet basic requirements (call 800-525-9495, or email

The chair of the Department of Political Science will also review and approve courses transferred to the major from study abroad programs or other special cases.

Is it difficult to double major with political science?

Many of our students are double majors, and they tend to find that their political science courses enhance their studies in other fields. Sociology, international studies, public policy, history and socio-legal studies are popular combinations with political science, but we welcome students from any other major.

If you're a double major, visit your advisers in both departments regularly to make sure you're on track to graduate!

Does the Department of Political Science have graduate programs?

No—the Department of Political Science is focused on undergraduate education, offering a bachelor degree in political science for majors and a political science minor.

If you're interested in graduate study at the University of Denver, you may want to explore the Josef Korbel School for International Studies, which offers a variety of master's, doctoral and certificate programs. You may also want to explore DU's Center for Public Policy and Contemporary Issues, which offers a master's in public policy.

Current students

How do I declare political science as my major?

To declare political science as your major, drop by the political science main office in Sturm Hall, Room 466, anytime during business hours to get a signature on your Declaration of Major Form (PDF). You can also make an appointment to have your form signed by calling our office at 303-871-2743, or emailing

How do I find out who my adviser is?

You can find your adviser by checking the left-hand column of the student tab in PioneerWeb. Don't see your adviser listed? Send an email to

Whom do I ask about study abroad approvals or transfer credits?

Make an appointment with the chair of the Department of Political Science, Seth Masket, to review study abroad course approvals or discuss transferring courses to the political science major.

The chair's office hours are listed in the main political science office in Sturm Hall, Room 466. You can also send him an email at

Does the Department of Political Science have any scholarships?

The Department of Political Science has two scholarships: the Anna Mae Bradbury Scholarship and the Hogan Scholarship.

The Department of Political Science and the Office of Financial Aid select winners based on merit and financial need. Students must have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for that academic year to be eligible.

Eligible students will be contacted in mid-spring with instructions for applying for these scholarships. Scholarship winners are notified in late spring, and the scholarship is applied to tuition for the following academic year.

What is the 5-to-4 credit switch, and how does it affect me?
In summer 2012, we reduced number of credits for each political science course from 5-credit hours to 4-credit hours to reflect the amount of time students spend in class each week. This means that the total number of credits needed to graduate as a political science major went from 44 to 40 credits.

For political science minors, we've also increased the number of credits necessary to complete a political science minor from 19- to 20-credit hours, meaning minors must take at least five courses instead of four.


If you first enrolled at the University of Denver in fall 2012, your political science major will require 40 credits. This will typically require that you complete 10 courses (each worth 4 credits).

The Office of the Registrar will waive up to half a credit hour (0.5), if you fall short of the 40-credit-hour minimum needed to complete your major.


If you first enrolled at DU before fall 2012, you can choose to complete the 40-credit-hour minimum for the major. This will allow several students—especially juniors who already have completed much of the major with several 5-credit-hour courses—to complete the major with 9 courses.

If you've taken nine courses and have earned fewer than 40 credits, the Office of the Registrar will waive up to 1-credit-hour. This means that the absolute minimum number of credit hours you must have to graduate will be 39. Otherwise, you must take additional courses to complete your major.

If you're a freshman or sophomore in 2012, you'll likely need to take 10 PLSC classes to complete the major rather than 9, and should plan accordingly.

We know this is complex stuff; contact if you have questions!

Are classes available to both majors and non-majors?
Yes, non-majors are welcome to take 1000-level classes—which include Introduction to American Politics, Introduction to Socio-Legal Studies, and Introduction to Politics: Power and Justice.

Political Science faculty members often teach Advanced Seminar (ASEM) courses on political science topics open to all juniors and seniors. Space is often available in upper-division political science classes for students who meet the course prerequisites or who speak with the instructor.

Due to space constraints, PLSC 2901: Political Inquiry, and PLSC 3290: Capstone Seminar in Politics, are limited to students who have declared the political science major.

Can the department help me with preparing for the LSAT or GRE?

The Department of Political Science does not offer direct instruction for the LSAT or GRE exams. We often receive flyers or information about preparatory courses, though, so check the bulletin boards in our main office (Sturm Hall, Room 466), or call 303-871-2743.

Can I specialize in one of the four sub-fields?

While we do not offer a specialization in the four sub-fields (American politics, comparative politics, law and political theory), if you're interested in a particular area, you can complete your 8 political science elective credits in that sub-field.

We require that political science majors take at least one class in each sub-field to ensure breadth and exposure to the foundations of the major disciplines within political science.

How does study abroad affect my progress in the political science major?

Great question! We encourage you to work closely with your political science faculty adviser as you plan coursework for study abroad programs. The department chair has the authority to approve study abroad courses before students leave for the program.

You should make an appointment with the department chair to discuss coursework well in advance of study abroad application deadlines. It is helpful if you bring a short description of the classes you're considering taking abroad (or a syllabus) when meeting with your adviser or the department chair about study abroad approvals. This helps advisers know where to allocate your study abroad courses within your required classes for the major.

We can accept a maximum of 20 transfer credits from study abroad toward the political science major, or 10 credits toward the political science minor. Be aware that there is a 60-credit hour limit for courses taken that can count toward the political science major.

Does the department bring speakers to campus? How else can I get involved?

Yes, we do! Email to join our departmental listserv and get information on departmental events, as well as job and internship opportunities. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and join our group on LinkedIn to stay connected and hear about new events.

DU also has student groups for College Democrats and College Republicans, and there are plenty of opportunities to develop leadership skills in other student organizations on campus, such as the Undergraduate Student Government, the AHSS Advisory Council, or the Sustainability Council.

How do I graduate with honors in political science?

Check out our Honors Program page for the full requirements.

What does it take to write a political science honors thesis?

See the full list of requirements and tips on our Honors Program page.

Careers in political science

What do students do with a degree in political science?

Political science students learn about politics in a very broad sense while developing their abilities to research, analyze and write. All of these skills are useful in many work settings. Our graduates have worked for or in:

  • the Peace Corps
  • Americorps
  • banking
  • human rights organizations
  • computer software development companies
  • campaigns
  • lobbyists
  • elected officials
  • law

Much of what students do after graduation comes from the passions they have. Check out our political science careers flyer (PDF), or talk with your adviser for more ideas!

To which graduate schools have department graduates gone?

Stanford and Columbia universities are among the political science graduate programs at which our students recently have been admitted. For law school, our alumni are attending UCLA, University of Vermont, Lewis and Clark, the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Denver.