The online Bachelor of Arts in Political Science is a liberal arts program, requiring 123 credits for completion. The content of our courses can provide you with the knowledge and skills to help you navigate the American political system as well as gain an understanding of international relations and the politics of other nations.

The political science degree requires students to successfully complete:

  • 36 major requirement credits
    • 12 credits of PL SC courses below a 400 level
    • 15 credits of PL SC at the 400 level
    • 9 credits of supporting courses
  • 24 bachelor of arts credits
    • 12 credits equivalency in a Foreign Language
    • 9 credits of additional General Education or Foreign Language
    • 3 credits of Other Cultures
  • 45 General Education credits
    • See credit composition below
  • 18 elective credits

Within the above listed credit requirements, students must complete:

  • A Writing Across the Curriculum course (W)
  • A U.S. cultures course (US)
  • An International Cultures course (IL)

Requirements for the major: 36 credits, with a C or higher letter grade in all courses

Required Courses (12 credits below the 400 level)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Introduction to American National Government PL SC 001 Introduction to development and nature of American political culture, constitution/structural arrangements, electoral/policy processes; sources of conflict and consensus. 3 credits
Introduction to Comparative Politics PL SC 003 Introduction to study of comparative government and politics: normative/empirical theories; government functions in modern societies; representative structures and processes. 3 credits
Contemporary Political Ideologies  PL SC 007 Critical analysis of contemporary political ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism, anarchism, fascism, feminism, and environmentalism. 3 credits
Scientific Study of Politics PL SC 010 This course introduces students to both the scientific study of politics and the way that study advances our understanding of political actors, events, processes, and institutions. 3 credits
International Relations PL SC 014 Characteristics of modern nation-states and forces governing their international relations; nationalism; imperialism; diplomacy; current problems of war and peace.

Credit will not be given for both this course and INT U 200.
3 credits
Introduction to Political Theory PL SC 017 Introduction to basic issues in political theory through analysis of selected major political thinkers. 3 credits
Comparative Politics—Western Europe  PL SC 020 Comparative analysis of political cultures, interest groups, parties, and decision-making processes in principal Western European political systems. 3 credits
Society and Cultures in Modern Israel PL SC 060 An introduction to the society and cultures of the State of Israel from 1948 to the present. 3 credits
Rights in America PL SC 110 This course explores the historical and contemporary struggles of particular groups within American society to expand their rights. 3 credits
Introduction to Political Research PL SC  308 Introduction to conceptualization, research design, and measurement in political research. 3 credits
Required Courses (15 credits at the 400 level)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Analyzing Public Policy in the American States PL SC 404 This course provides students with the tools to empirically evaluate policy proposals and outcomes in the American states.

Prerequisite: PL SC 001 and PL SC 309 (STAT 200) or concurrent PL SC 309 (STAT 200)
3 credits
International Political Economy PL SC 412 The transnational politics of trade, investment, aid, raw materials, and the environment; nation-states, multinational corporations, and the U.N.

Prerequisite: ECON 102, ECON 104 or I B 303
3 credits
International Relations Theory PL SC 418W A survey of traditional and contemporary conceptual frameworks and theoretical approaches for the analysis of international relations.

Prerequisite: PL SC 014
3 credits
The Politics of Terrorism PL SC 439 Analysis of political terrorism as a violent alternative for peaceful change and traditional warfare in the nuclear age.

Prerequisites: CRIMJ 100 or PL SC 014 or permission of program
3 credits
American Foreign Policy PL SC 442 Principles of American foreign policy; processes of policy formulation; roles of the President, Congress, the State Department and other government agencies.

Prerequisite: PL SC 014
3 credits
Governments and Politics of Western Europe PL SC 455 Comparative analysis of political and governmental structures of major West European nations; main functions and processes of such structures.

Prerequisite: PL SC 003 or PL SC 020
3 credits
Politics and Institutions of Latin-American Nations PL SC 456 Social forces and processes, governmental institutions, foreign policies of major states of Latin America.

Prerequisite: 3 credits from PL SC 003 or PL SC 020
3 credits
Politics and the Media PL SC 468 An examination of how politics and public policy affect and are shaped by the news media, as a political institution, in America.

Prerequisite: PL SC 001 or PL SC 003
3 credits
American Constitutional Law PL SC 471 The origins of judicial review, landmark decisions of the Supreme Court, and their impact on the American form of government.

Prerequisite: PL SC 001
3 credits
The American Legal Process PL SC 472 Analysis of the roles, procedures, and policies characterizing the American legal system.

Prerequisite: PL SC 001
3 credits
American Judicial Behavior PL SC 473 Analyzes behavior of judges and other participants in the legal process; examines how and why courts function as policymaking bodies. 3 credits
Congress and the Presidency PL SC 480W Basic characteristics and processes of the national legislature and executive; roles and interaction of these institutions in the policy process.

Prerequisite: PL SC 001
3 credits
Policy Making and Evaluation PL SC 490 Advanced analysis of public policy, emphasizing policy evaluation and the factors that determine policy success and failure.

Prerequisite: PL SC 001, PL SC 002 or PUBPL 304W
3 credits
Supporting and Related Courses: 9 credits (in consultation with adviser)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Organizational Communication CAS 352 This course examines the function and structure of communication in both formal and informal situations. 3 credits
Conflict Resolution and Negotiation CAS 404 Theories and strategies important for conceptualizing, developing, and managing conflict negotiation, mediation, and third-party intervention.

Prerequisites: CAS 100
3 credits
Studies in Public Address CAS 475 History and criticism of public discourse; intensive analysis of selected public addresses and social movements.

Prerequisites: CAS 100
3 credits
Law of Mass Communications COMM 403 Nature and theories of law; the Supreme Court and press freedom; legal problems of the mass media. 3 credits
News Media Ethics COMM 409 Ethical problems in the practice of journalism; principal public criticisms of news media; case study approach. 3 credits
International Mass Communications COMM 410 The role of international media in communication among and between nations and people. Complement to COMM 419.

Prerequisites: Select 3 credits from the following COMM 100, COMM 110, COMM 118, COMM 150, COMM 180, COMM 251, COMM 260W, COMM 320 or COMM 370
3 credits
Seminar, Criminal Justice Agency Administration CRIM 482 Relates organizational and public policy management approaches to police, courts, and correctional institutions.

Prerequisites: CRIM 100
3 credits
Security Administration CRIMJ 304 Interdisciplinary analysis of security and loss prevention; its administration, role in crime control and prevention, and relationship to criminal justice. 3 credits
Border Security CRIMJ 435 This course provides knowledge about government organizations charged with American border security, guiding laws and policies. 3 credits
Ethics in Criminal Justice CRIMJ 465 Ethical behavior in the criminal justice system.

Prerequisites: CRIMJ 100 or permission of program
3 credits
Law and Society CRIMJ/SOC 467 Law and society studies the social origins of law and legal systems; occupational careers, and decision making of legal officials.

Prerequisites: CRIMJ 100 or CRIMJ 113 or permission of program
3 credits
ECON courses Any 300 or 400 level ECON TBD TBD
Energy Policy GEOG 432 Analysis, formulation, implementation, and impacts of energy-related policies, regulations, and initiatives.

Prerequisites: E B F 200, EGEE 120, PL SC 490
3 credits
Recent American History HIST 447 Contemporary economic, social, and political aspects of the United States and its role as a world power since 1945.

Prerequisite: HIST 021 3 additional credits in history economics or political science
3 credits
LER courses Any 400 level LER course TBD TBD
PL SC courses Any 300 or 400 level PL SC course TBD TBD
PSYCH courses Any 400 level PSYCH course TBD TBD
Introduction to Crisis and Emergency Management PUBPL 306 An introduction to emergency management in mitigating, preparing for, responding to and recovering from hazards. 3 credits
Critical Infrastructure Protection PUBPL 475 This course provides knowledge about protection of critical infrastructure as an aspect of homeland security. 3 credits
Seminar in National Security Policy PUBPL 483 This course will examine the inter-relationship of foreign, military and economic policy.

Prerequisite: Seventh semester standing
3 credits
SOC courses Any 400 level SOC course TBD TBD

Please note: Among the above degree requirements, students should incorporate at least 3 credits in US cultures, 3 credits in international (IL) cultures, and 3 credits in writing across the curriculum courses. The above course list includes only courses offered by World Campus. An official degree audit or the recommended academic plan for this program may include additional course options and detailed requirements. All students are expected to complete at least 36 Penn State credits to earn this degree. Please consult an academic adviser for details.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.