Political Science, Bachelor of Science

Department of Politics and International Affairs

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

The bachelor's degree in Political Science provides students with opportunities to study the theory, principles, and practice of government and politics at the local, national, and international levels. The coursework emphasizes the application of a range of analytical tools to critically evaluate and assess politics and policy. Faculty mentors provide academic support and guidance, preparing each student for a meaningful career path.

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 54 units of major requirements
  • At least 18 units of minor requirements

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA 2.0
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 114
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Research Optional
University Honors Program Optional
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement

The Political Science, BS degree places an emphasis on a range of analytical methods and policy fields, designed to appeal to students who are interested in pursuing graduate school, work in the public sector, work in public policy, or work in the government.  

It will also be attractive for students who may already have completed some course work in STEM-related fields.  With this degree students will be prepared to engage in policy and data analysis, research, advanced graduate work, and more.  

Building upon this fundamental knowledge, our curriculum ensures that students can define, design, and implement effective research projects in political science.  In addition, they will be able to make clear and effective demonstrations of their work in writing and in public presentations.  Students will also leave this program ready to understand, and be able to meet, the expectations of professionalism and citizenship.  

This degree will give students the tools they need for professional work related to political science, particularly in the areas of analysis. Strong analytical skills will also place graduates at a competitive advantage in a wide variety of other fields.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Conceptual and Analytical:  Students should be able to engage in an in-depth analysis of issues and events in the political world and a strong understanding of the major forces shaping domestic and international politics. 
    • Identify and use salient political science concepts and analytical method to evaluate current public policies, political actors’ behavior, political events, and institutional arrangements within a diverse world.
    • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of a variety of significant analytical approaches used in political science.
    • Analyze, synthesize and evaluate the interconnectedness and interdependence of the human experience on a global scale.
  • Inquiry and Research:  Students should be able to define, design, and implement effective research projects in political science.
    • Devise a basic research design.
    • Test hypotheses with basic empirical data.
    • Write the findings in a research report.
  • Communication:  Students should be able to make clear and effective demonstrations of their work in writing and in public presentations.
    • Students will demonstrate advanced writing skills and be able to summarize and explain scholarly political science articles.
    • Analyze and critique the material read /discussed.
    • Suggest and discuss alternative possibilities and outcomes.
    • Engage and interest the reader.
    • Speak in public settings.
    • Demonstrate an ability to apply the discussion to policy and “real world” applications.
    • Proficiency in and an ability to speak, read, and write in a language other than English. (Bachelor of Arts in Political Science only)
  • Professional and Citizenship:  Students should know, understand, and be able to meet the expectations of professionalism and citizenship.
    • Demonstrate professional behavior in terms of demeanor, personal presentation, ethics, and civic participation in experiential learning and classrooms settings.
    • Acquire the skills and knowledge base to understand the importance of and options for environmental sustainability and its tenuous relationship to economic development in local and global terms.
    • Critically reflect upon the nature and consequences of diversity (e.g. race, gender, class, ethnicity, religion, culture, nation), and develop an understanding of how this diversity both alters and is altered in a world characterized by increasing global interaction.


Major Requirements
  • This major requires 72 - 78 units distributed as follows:

    • Political Science Course Requirements: 51 units
    • Experience of Difference Requirement: 3 units
    • A Minor: 18- 24 units

    Take the following 54 units with a cumulative 2.0 GPA:

    • POS 100, POS 110, POS 120, POS 304, POS 305 (15 units)
    • In consultation with your advisor, select an additional methods course (3 units)
    • In consultation with your advisor, select an additional applied policy or public law course (3 units)
    • POS 301W which meets the junior-level writing requirement (3 units)
    • POS 421C which meets the senior capstone requirement (3 units)
    • Additional POS courses, excluding POS 220 (24 units)

    Experience of Difference Requirement (3 units):As part of their degree program, students are required to complete 3 units of an experience of difference.

    You must obtain prior written approval from a POS faculty member if you take POS 408, POS 485. You may only use experience of difference coursework with a course prefix other than POS in exceptional circumstances, with your advisor's prior approval. If you take more than 3 units of experience of difference coursework, they will count in general elective credit.

Minor Requirements
  • You must complete a minor of at least 18 units from those described in this catalog. In consultation with your advisor, you should select a minor that is appropriate for your career aspirations and educational needs. Your minor advisor will advise you about this part of your academic plan.

  • You may not pursue the Politics and Government BA or the Political Science Minor in conjunction with this degree. 

    Also note that you may elect to complete a merged or dual major instead of a minor; see your advisor for more information.

General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.

  • Bachelor/Juris Doctor 3+3 Program

    This plan is eligible for NAU’s 3+3 program offered in conjunction with the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law. This program allows outstanding students to substitute their final year of undergraduate studies with their first year of law school and earn an undergraduate (BS or BA) and law (JD) degree in six years instead of seven years. Please refer to the Bachelor/Juris Doctor 3+3 Program for more information.