All majors specialize in two of the four subfields in political science; therefore, they should give considerable thought to which subfields they pursue as they complete the major. View the Political Science Major Check Sheet (PDF).
A minimum of 10 courses in political science. The courses are categorized in four general subfields of the discipline: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. Students take three introductory courses, two 200 and two 300 level courses, an elective at the 200 or 300 level, the methods course, and the capstone.
Introductory Courses: Majors are required to take three of the four introductory courses. The options are: Political Science 101 American Government; 102, Introduction to Political Theory; 103 Introduction to International Relations; or 104 Introduction to Comparative Politics. Courses at this level introduce students to the core set of themes that define Political Science including the manner in which they are conceptualized by the particular subfield. The 100-level courses may be taken in any order, and should be completed by the end of the sophomore year. Occasionally, certain First Year Seminars offered by members of the department may be used to satisfy one of the introductory courses. Students should consult their First Year Seminar instructors to see if their seminar is applicable. Introductory courses are prerequisites for all advanced courses. Students who submit an AP score of 4 or 5 in American Government may receive course credit for POL 101. Course credit for advanced placement will be lost if a student takes POL 101 at Gettysburg.
Political Science Methods: All students must take Political Science 215, Political Science Research Methods, as sophomores or first-semester juniors. Starting with the Fall Term 2012, students must earn a grade of C (2.0) or better in POL 215 to graduate with a major in political science.
Subfield Specialization: 200 level courses: Courses at this level explore key themes and related issues in greater depth. Students learn about the research process and how to pursue their own research questions. All students must choose two subfields from the three represented in their introductory courses. All students must take at least one 200 level course in each of these subfields.
Subfield Specialization: 300 level courses: At this level students engage in a critical and deeper examination of specific topics that exemplify the core set of themes of importance to political scientists. All students must follow up the 200 level courses with at least one 300 level course in each of their selected subfields.
Elective: Students may fulfill the elective requirement by taking either a 200 or 300 level course in one of the three subfields taken at the introductory level.
Capstone: The capstone course serves as the culmination of the communication conventions in the discipline. Students will be immersed in a specific area of scholarship, will read, analyze and finally produce research relevant to the topic of the course. All seniors must enroll in a senior capstone course. The course must be in one of the two subfields pursued in the major. Capstone seminars in American Politics, International Relations, and Comparative Politics will be offered every year. The capstone in Political Theory will be offered every other year. Students who are unable to take the Political Theory capstone in their senior year may enroll in it in their junior year.
The Jacober Scholars Program : In the winter of 2020, the Gettysburg College Political Science Department unveiled its new honors track—the Jacober Scholars Program. Each Jacober Scholar will work closely with a faculty mentor to produce a significant piece of original research in a subject area of the Scholar’s choosing. Political science majors with a major grade point average of at least 3.67 are eligible to apply during their junior year. Application information will be distributed during the first half of each spring semester.
Off Campus Courses: Students are encouraged to pursue off campus programs. Political Science course credit will be given to those courses that are consistent with the department’s subfield designations. Political science courses taken off campus will satisfy 200-level requirements only, and only two political science courses taken off campus can satisfy major requirements.
Internships: Students are encouraged to take internships for academic course credit, but they are graded S/U and do not fulfill any major requirements. Students need to work with the Center for Career Development and consult with a faculty member on the nature of the internship and its academic requirements.
Individualized Study: Individualized study provides an excellent opportunity for students to work with a faculty member on an important political topic and produce a significant research paper. Students need to consult with a faculty member on choosing the topic and arranging the requirements of the course. Individualized Study is graded A-F, is calculated in the major grade point average, but does not fulfill any major requirements.
The Minor in Political Science
Students intending to minor in political science need to understand the subfield orientation of the minor as well as the minor requirements. Prof. Roy Dawes is the department advisor for the minor and students should consult with him on choosing courses to fulfill the minor requirements. At this time, students should formally declare the minor. Prof. Dawes will sign their minor declaration form which they will then turn in to the Registrar’s office.
The minor in political science consists of six courses in political science. All minors specialize in two of the four subfields in political science; therefore, they should give considerable thought to which subfields they pursue as they complete the minor.
Introductory Courses: Minors are required to take two of the four introductory courses. The options are: Political Science 101 American Government; 102, Introduction to Political Theory; 103 Introduction to International Relations; or 104 Introduction to Comparative Politics.
Advanced Courses: Minors are required to take four courses at the 200 or 300 level that are consistent with the subfields chosen at the introductory level. These courses cannot all fall in the same subfield. The usual sequence of courses is two courses in each subfield but some students take three in one and one in the other. Students may substitute POL 215 Political Research Methods for one of these courses.