The Department of Political Science welcomes all students who are admitted to the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Students interested in exploring political science as a major have a variety of routes available. Students begin their study of political science with a relatively small core of classes, then take more advanced courses where their academic interests lead them.

At Illinois, instruction in the field of political science is divided into five areas. These are American Politics, Public Policy, Comparative Politics, Political Theory (or Political Philosophy) and International Relations. Each of these areas, or subfields, addresses some issues of political systems and political life. As students grow in their understanding and take more advanced courses, they learn how ideas, concepts and theories from one area relate to those in another.

As students in a college of liberal arts and sciences within a large public university, students can draw upon the resources of other units and departments to nurture their intellectual growth and development. Many students marry their studies in political science to studies in other subjects with a minor, a second major or even a second degree.

Many students of political science choose to study abroad for a short-term course in winter or summer led by one of our faculty. Others choose to study abroad -- a semester or even a year -- in special programs or at partner institutions overseas.

Other students -- more interested in seeing American political life first-hand -- choose to spend a semester doing an internship with the Illinois in Washington program. Now in its second decade, the program facilitates on-site internships for four days per week coupled with one day of classroom instruction aimed at enhancing the experience in Washington.

Questions about the political science program at Illinois? Contact one of our advisors! Call 217-333-7491 to set up an appointment or email

Prospective Freshmen

Political science is a great major to have in college. The discipline looks at the most important issues of our time and issues that endure for all time. Past and present students who major in political science do interesting and important things on campus, and they have wonderful careers and lives after graduation. 

Interested? Contact one of our advisors for tips on what to do in high school to improve your prospects for success as a political science major!

Prospective freshmen can find more information about admission details, arrange campus visits and apply to be a political science major at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Transfers from Off-Campus

Transfer students from other institutions can find information about admission requirements in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions Transfer Handbook.

We recommend strongly that transfer students complete a three-hour course that would transfer to the University of Illinois as PS 101 (Introduction to US Government and Politics) and at least one more three-hour course that would transfer as a field course (PS 100, 220, 230, 231, 240, 270 or 280). Students may take other political science courses before coming to the university, but be advised that advanced hours or other requirements of the major may not be met by political science electives taken at other institutions.

Prospective transfer students can find more information about admission details, arrange campus visits and apply to be a political science major at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Transfers from Other Units On Campus 

Most likely, successful transfer students from other departments on campus at the end of their sophomore year will have completed (and done well in) at least two political science courses before they declare the major, and they work on completely the requirements of the major at a pace of two -- or in rare instance three -- courses per semester.

Students from departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences can use the Change of Major form to change their major to political science.

Students interested in transferring to political science from a college other than the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, must attend an Intercollegiate Transfer (ICT) information session before declaring the major.