Welcome to the Political Science Department

Political Science

Political science is the study of government and politics at the local, state, national, and international levels. Students investigate a wide variety of topics including law and society, public policy, global politics, political institutions and law making. Political science majors develop a broad understanding of political concepts, institutions, behaviors and processes. The political science degree emphasizes the comprehension of political thinking and the application of communication and analytical skills, and prepares students for a wide range of careers, including law or graduate school, work with governmental/non-profit organizations, research and survey analysis, and leadership positions in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Political Science students have access to multiple co-curricular clubs and experiences that create opportunities to learn about politics in hands-on settings and to work with students who share similar interests. Through the department, students can participate on our nationally-ranked Mock Trial team, compete and travel with Model United Nations, write and be published in Paideia. Students can also get involved with the Political Science Club, Undergraduate Law Association, and Pi Sigma Alpha. Many majors also complete Internships with a variety of organizations that provide them with career skills, practical knowledge, and the opportunity to network. 

Students in political science take a breadth of lower division courses covering U.S. politics, comparative and global politics, political thought and political inquiry. Students must also complete a 28-unit concentration within the major, selecting from U.S. Politics, Global Politics, Pre-Law or Individualized Course of Study. You can learn more about concentrations in political science here.

The Political Science department supports our students’ career exploration throughout their time at Cal Poly. In POLS 180: Political Inquiry, which is a required major course, Career Services offers a targeted workshop to assist Political Science students in their career exploration. This is a foundational course in the curriculum and prompts students to think about their future careers early in their study of Political Science. For students in their third and fourth years, the department offers a variety of research and career-oriented internships for course credit to give students hands-on experience in professional settings. The department also provides graduate school and law school counseling and preparation for students who would like to pursue careers that require study beyond the bachelor’s degree.


POLS Curriculum and Degree Requirements (2020-2021 Catalog)
POLS Curriculum and Degree Requirements (2021-2022 Catalog)
POLS Curriculum and Degree Requirements (2022-2026 Catalog)

Program Learning Objectives

  1. Subject Matter Expertise: Through their curricular and co-curricular work, students will demonstrate expertise in political science and its subfields, as well as its relationship to the broader worlds of study and practice.
  2. Critical Thinking: Students will demonstrate critical thinking through their coursework and/or co-curricular activities. 
  3. Working Productively and Communicating Effectively: Through their coursework and/or co-curricular activities, students will demonstrate their ability to work productively, both alone and in groups, their knowledge of the principles of effective communication, and their ability to communicate the results of their work effectively through a variety of tools and techniques.
  4. Ethics, Diversity and Sustainability: In the context of coursework and/or co-curricular activities, students will demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to make reasoned decisions, and that they can bring an understanding of the politics surrounding and the value of ethics, diversity and sustainability to bear on those decisions.
  5. Lifelong Learning and Positive Contribution: Through their coursework and/or co-curricular activities, students will demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills to engage in lifelong learning aimed at making a positive contribution to society. 

POLS Diversity and Inclusion Statement

As political scientists, we have a professional duty to educate our community about issues of social justice and power. The study of politics involves grappling with the most pressing challenges facing societies around the globe, especially systematic inequality and oppression. We are committed to bringing diverse perspectives to bear on the study of these issues and to creating an inclusive community. We commit ourselves and the university to respect and support students and faculty of all ages, races, cultural backgrounds, religious and secular belief systems, physical abilities, socioeconomic statuses, genders, sexual orientations, nationalities, and immigration/citizenship statuses.

For more information, regarding diversity and inclusion in the POLS Department, please visit the Statement on Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion page.


Cal Poly is in tiłhini, the Place of the Full Moon. We gratefully acknowledge, respect, and thank yak tityu tityu yak tiłhini, Northern Chumash Tribe of San Luis Obispo County and Region in whose homelands we are guests.  

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