Undergraduate Program

Majoring in Political Science or Environmental Policy at WashU

The study of political science and environmental policy can be an exceptional means for students to acquire a broad liberal education, and our faculty has a strong commitment to this objective. Undergraduates in the department are among the best and brightest in the nation, and they work with professors at the top of their fields. In addition, students find the major a useful preparation for a number of career options. 

Majors & Concentrations

The department offers two majors, Political Science and Environmental Policy. Political Science and Environmental Policy students may concentrate in a subfield of political science by taking (as part of their distribution requirement) three upper-level courses in any one of the five subfields (American politics, comparative politics, international politics, political methodology, or political theory). Applications for subfield concentrations will be emailed to students in October or March of the semester in which they graduate. Students may earn concentrations in up to two subfields. The successful completion of a subfield concentration will be listed on a student's transcript.

Course Subfields

Political science encompasses a number of sub-fields, and the department's course offerings reflect various dimensions of the study of politics.

American Politics

The field of American Politics includes the study of political behavior (electoral politics, public opinion, politics of interest groups), public policy analysis (economic policy, social welfare policy, urban public policy), and the study of governmental institutions (the Presidency, Congress, judicial process and public law, the politics of bureaucracies).

Comparative Politics

Courses in Comparative Politics include the study of various political phenomena from a comparative perspective (revolution and political violence, political elites, political modernization and development, comparative public policy), and the study of government and politics in particular geographical areas (Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Western Europe).

International Politics

Courses in International Politics include the study of international development, international political economy, national security and defense policy, nuclear weapons and arms control, terrorism and guerrilla warfare in international perspective, international organizations, bargaining and negotiation.

Political and Social Theory

Political and Social Theory involves the study of various political, empirical, and conceptual aspects of the ways in which we seek to understand the political world. It includes courses in the history of political thought, modern ideologies, and contemporary political philosophy, political psychology, and political sociology.

Formal and Mathematical Approaches

The department offers a number of courses in Formal and Mathematical Approaches to the study of politics. There is also among the faculty a variety of intellectual styles and approaches to the discipline and a considerable willingness to adapt the curriculum to meet the developing interests of students, either with new courses or through independent study.

Program Highlights

Senior Thesis Program

Writing a senior thesis provides a wonderful opportunity for political science majors to do independent social science research. It also provides a "capstone" experience for the major. The program involves independent work by the student, guided by a faculty advisor, and enrollment in a senior thesis seminar during the fall and spring semesters of a student's senior year.

details & eligibility

Undergraduate Awards

The department offers several awards in recognition of special scholarly achievement by undergraduate students. These awards are made each spring, prior to graduation. Each of the awards carries a cash prize.

awards & nomination

Careers & Outcomes

Find information on how a major or minor in political science can help your future plans.


Internships & Independent Studies


Many students obtain credit toward graduation for internships in political and community organizations such as American Civil Liberties Union, Board of Probation and Parole, community organizations, and public and private bureaucracies. A student may be able to obtain Political Science or general credit toward graduation for such internships. Students should consult the undergraduate Bulletin and contact the Career Center for internship guidelines before they intern. 

Students who wish to obtain graded credit toward the major for an internship in Political Science must obtain a faculty sponsor (click here to download form) and site evaluation sponsor (click here to download form) and turn in a completed internship form (click here to download form) to Professor Zoe Ang. This must be completed prior to the internship start date and the beginning of the semester. Students cannot receive minor credit for the internship because it is not a graded course.

Once this is done, students should enroll in the internship course (Internship in Political Science L32 299). Please contact Professor Zoe Ang or refer to the internship overview guide (click here to download guide) for more information on the rules and limitations for earning academic credit for Political Science internships. (Outstanding questions should be directed to Professor Zoe Ang.)

Independent Study

Click here to download the Independent Study form

Related Programs

Legal Studies

Students interested in political science may choose to pursue a minor in Legal Studies, an interdisciplinary academic program about law rather than vocational training in law. 

Murray Weidenbaum Center Scholars Program

Sponsored by the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy, this program provides undergraduates a unique, rewarding, and life altering chance to learn and work under the guidance and mentoring of world-class academic experts. 


Have questions?

We're here to help! Feel free to reach out via the departmental contact form. 

contact us