Curriculum and Courses
The Political Science Major
All political science courses emphasize social scientific reasoning and theory application. A total of ten courses are necessary to complete the Political Science major (for detailed descriptions, please follow the "Related Links" in the right margin):
Three introductory-level lecture courses at the 1000- or 3000-level from different subfields (if already approved as an intro substitute);
Four elective courses (class of 2020 or later) (this includes any POLS class taken at Barnard or Columbia, and any class we have cross-listed in our catalog: you can see a full list of courses here);
The department recognizes four subfields of the discipline:
Political Theory (PT): the study of the conceptual foundations of political systems and behavior.
American Government and Politics (AP): the study of all aspects of the American political system, including its development, institutions, procedures, and actors.
Comparative Politics (CP): the study of the political systems of other countries and regions, including the use of comparisons across cases in order to gain a broader and deeper understanding of events, institutions, and processes.
International Relations (IR): the study of relations between countries and the dynamics and development of the international system.
Majors have a choice of specializing in one or two subfields, selecting a broader mix of courses, or designing interdisciplinary programs that enable them to do a double major, or major and concentrate, in additional fields.
A note on the Barnard and Columbia course designation and numbering protocol. For more information on this, please go to the Courses of Instruction page in the Barnard Catalogue:
A prefix of "BC" indicates that the course is offered primarily for Barnard students; a "C" course, primarily for Columbia College students. “H” courses are offered at Columbia’s Reid Hall in Paris. "G" courses are graduate courses and a "V" or a "W" indicates a joint course, usually Barnard with Columbia College.
Undergraduate-level courses are 1000-3999 whereas 4000-4999 courses are designed for advanced undergraduate & first-year graduate students. Courses at the 5000-8999 level are graduate courses not normally open to undergraduate students.
The Political Science Minor
A total of five courses are necessary to complete a minor. Four of these courses must be taken from courses listed in the political science section of the Barnard catalogue. Only one course taken in a summer session, study-abroad program, Reid Hall Program, or another undergraduate college may be used to satisfy the five-course requirement for the minor, with the approval of the Department Chair. When requesting transfer credit, please use the Course Approval Request form.
Please use the Major Audit to plan your program and track your courses for the major.