Elective Courses

In addition to the three introductory courses, the two colloquia and the senior research seminar, political science majors choose three electives, normally at the 3000- or 4000-level. These courses are designed to deepen and expand students’ knowledge base and encourage them to apply social scientific reasoning and theories to the analysis of a broad range of political issues and problems.

Please use the Major Audit to plan your program and to track your courses.

What fulfills the Three-Course Electives requirement:

  1. All courses offered at Barnard or Columbia in political science with a POLS prefix satisfy elective course requirements, including introductory lecture courses, colloquia and cross-listed courses. The Columbia undergraduate seminars have specific registration guidelines.
  2. The Independent Study Option POLS BC3799. Students who wish to do an independent study project (ISP) should first speak to a political science faculty member willing to sponsor it and consult with this instructor as to workload and points of credit. Credit is given for an academic research paper written in conjunction with an internship, but no academic credit is given for an internship or job experience per sé. The student must then apply to the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing (CPAS), which must approve all Independent Study requests. Once the request is granted, the Registrar creates a section and assigns a call number, and the student is notified of the call number so she can enter the course on her program. (Each instructor has a separate section and call number. Each instructor is limited to sponsoring one independent study per semester.) Independent study counts as a course for the purpose of the political science requirements, provided the project is approved for 3 or 4 points of credit. A project taken for 1 or 2 points does not count as a course toward the major, the minor, or the concentration requirement.
  3. With pre-approval, first from the individual Major Advisor and then from the Department Representative, a student may substitute a course in another department for one of the three elective courses. This course cannot be an introductory course and it must have significant political science content (use the Course Approval Request Form). Approval after the fact will not be granted.
  4. Six of the nine courses for the major must be taken from courses listed in the political science section of the Barnard Course Catalogue (see #1 for specifics). Within the three-course limit of courses taken elsewhere, the following caps traditionally apply: three transfer courses; two Reid Hall courses; two study-abroad courses from one semester away or three study-abroad courses from a full year away; one summer session course. On rare occasions the Department Representative may grant an exception (use the Course Approval Request Form). With the exception of transfer courses, these courses need pre-approval from the Department Representative. All of these courses, including transfer courses, require approval after completion from the Department Representative to count toward the major, minor or concentration. Please use the Course Approval Request Form.

What does not fulfill the Three-Course Electives requirement:

  • The Independent Study Option POLS BC3799 does not satisfy the course requirement if the project is for 1 or 2 points.
  • College-granted AP credit for American Politics or Comparative Politics does not count as major course credit. (See Advanced Placement Credit.)
  • Courses taken at other colleges, in summer sessions, or abroad, which are not equivalent in rigor and workload to Barnard courses, as determined by the Department Representative, in consultation with other faculty of the department, will not count toward the major, minor or concentration requirements.

Please use the Major Audit to plan your program and to track your courses.


Updated August 31, 2015 by Anne Wolff-Lawson