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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I do a minor in political science?
No, the political science faculty believe that students who wish to pursue political science as a course of study are best served by completing all the requirements for the major. Therefore, the department does not offer political science as a minor.

Can I use Study Abroad courses to help fulfill my political science major requirements?
Yes. The political science department will grant up to three units of course credit toward the major for political science courses taken during a full year of study abroad. For students who study abroad just one semester, the department will grant up to two units of credit toward the major. Students may not use courses taken abroad to fulfill any of the four introductory course requirements, but courses taken abroad may be used as appropriate to fulfill upper-division requirements within the major. Note that all Study Abroad courses to be counted toward the major must be approved in advance by the political science department chair or the department’s Study Abroad advisor.

Can I combine the Washington Semester Program with my political science major?
Yes. Every semester, several political science majors participate in the Washington Semester Program. The department works closely with the program to ensure that our majors are provided with political science faculty advisors appropriate for their chosen thesis projects. Also, students may count their Washington thesis as one of the 10 courses required for their political science major. Note, however, that the Washington Semester Internship and Public Policy Seminar may not be counted toward the major.

Can I count Advanced Placement courses toward my major requirements?
A score of 5 on the American Politics and Government exam exempts students from having to take Principles of American Government, although they will still have to take 10 courses for the major. A score of 5 on the Comparative Politics and Government exempts students from taking Introduction to Comparative Politics, although students will still need to take 10 courses for the major.

Can I count courses from other colleges or universities toward my major requirements?
Credit toward the political science major will ordinarily not be granted for courses taken at other institutions, except as noted above for Study Abroad and Advanced Placement courses. Also, credit will be granted as appropriate for students transferring to Holy Cross from other colleges and universities. In unusual circumstances, exceptions to these rules may be granted at the discretion of the department chair.

Should I take the four introductory political science courses in a particular order?
All four introductory courses are designed for students with no prior background in political science, so you may take them in whatever order best suits your needs and preferences. If you’re not sure yet whether you want to major in political science, it’s probably best to begin with the introductory course that seems most interesting to you. In any case, the department strongly recommends that political science majors complete all four introductory courses by the end of the sophomore year. If you plan to participate in the Washington Semester Program, it is strongly recommended that you also complete one or two upper-division courses before doing so as preparation for the thesis component of the program.

Can I write a senior honors thesis in political science?
Yes. In fact, there are two different programs through which you can write a political science honors thesis. One is the political science department honors program, which is open to qualified students. The application process for this program takes place during the spring semester of the junior year. The thesis itself is a two-semester project that counts as one course during each semester of the senior year. Alternatively, students can write a political science thesis within the framework of the College Honors Program. Note, however, that College Honors students who wish to work with a political science faculty advisor must gain approval for their proposed thesis through the same process as students in the department honors program