Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

  • At least 28 units for the major must be from upper-division courses (300–699).
  • Only three lower-division units may be counted towards the PLSI electives requirement. All other PLSI electives must be upper-division classes (300-level or above).
  • For a course to count towards the Political Science major, students must earn a grade of C- or better in all core, breadth, and culminating experience courses.
  • Political Science majors may take up to four units of political science coursework as credit no credit (CR/NC), as long as those units are part of their electives. All PLSI courses other than electives must be taken for a letter grade (i.e., A-, B, C+, etc.)
  • The GWAR (writing-emphasis) course must be taken in the Political Science Department, even if a student has completed a GWAR course in another department.
  • Students who want to do an independent study/special study must arrange it with faculty, submit a Petition for Course by Individual Study (PLSI 699) form, and have at least a 3.0 grade-point average. Independent Study units count only as electives.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the American political system, comparative knowledge of diverse political systems and dynamics around the world, and of a variety of theoretical traditions from different cultures and societies.
  2. Demonstrate critical thinking skills and proficiency in expressing complex ideas and arguments through writing, proficiency in political research and analysis, an ability to conduct basic empirical analysis in political topics, and an ability to do textual exegesis in written work.
  3. In their senior culminating experience, students demonstrate an ability to develop thoughtful and persuasive research projects of their own in an area of political science.
  4. Demonstrate citizenship skills, including an ability to appreciate human diversity, communicate ideas effectively, engage in community life, and link theory to practice by applying political science knowledge to actual problem-solving and community service.

Political Science (B.A.) – 42 units

Core Requirements (19 units)

PLSI 200Introduction to American Politics3
PLSI 250Comparative Politics3
PLSI 275Introduction to Political Theory3
PLSI 302GWWriting for Political Science - GWAR4
PLSI 303Fundamentals of Political Science2
PLSI 304Scientific Inquiry in Political Science4

Breadth Requirement (10-12 units)

Upper-division Political Science courses selected to include at least one course in three of the four sub-fields:

1. American Politics

PLSI 460Topics in American Politics 14
PLSI 461Voting Behavior, Campaigns, and Elections4
PLSI 462Applied Public Opinion Research4
PLSI 463The Politics of Immigration in the United States4
PLSI 464Race and American Politics4
PLSI 465Reason, Passion, and Political Behavior4
PLSI 467Politics and Community Organizing4
PLSI 468Women and American Politics4
PLSI 470The Politics of Sex and Reproduction4
PLSI 472Civic and Political Engagement4
PLSI 473California Politics and Government4
PLSI 475San Francisco Political Issues4
PLSI 476The American Presidency4
PLSI 477Congress and the Presidency4
PLSI 479The United States Congress4
PLSI 512Urban Politics and Community Power4
PLSI 603
PLSI 604
Public Service Internships
and Internship Seminar

2. Comparative Politics

PLSI 307Qualitative Methods in Political Science and International Relations4
PLSI 328Domestic and Foreign Policy: Post-Communist Regions4
PLSI 403Cases in Comparative Politics4
PLSI 404Politics of China4
PLSI 406Radical Right Politics: Far-Right Parties in Contemporary Europe4
PLSI 407Politics of Russia4
PLSI 408Mexican Politics and Society3
PLSI 409Russia and World Order4
PLSI 410Middle East Politics4
PLSI 411East Asian Politics4
PLSI 412South Asian Politics4
PLSI 416Ethnicity and Nationalism4
PLSI 417Gender, Equality, and Politics: A Comparative Perspective4
PLSI 418Political Transitions in East & Southeast Asia4
PLSI 419Comparative Political Economy4
PLSI 422Law and Courts in Comparative Perspective4
PLSI 424Social Movements4
PLSI 425Imagining Power in the Middle East4
PLSI 431Constructing Kurdistan4
PLSI 459Refugees in Global Perspective4

3. Political Theory

PLSI 309Methods and Approaches in Political Theory4
PLSI 351Political Theory: The Classical Tradition4
PLSI 352Political Theory: Reformation to Nineteenth Century4
PLSI 353Political Theory: The Twentieth Century4
PLSI 354Politics, the Environment, and Social Change4
PLSI 355Politics and Ethics of the Consumer Society3
PLSI 356Political Theories of Neoliberalism4
PLSI 360Development of American Political Thought4
PLSI 371Marxist Political Theory4
PLSI 372Critical Political Theory4
PLSI 381Political Theories of Sexuality4
PLSI 382Politics and Literature4
PLSI 386Introduction to Critical Social Thought3
PLSI 387Non-Western Comparative Political Thought4
PLSI 388Politics and the Popular4
PLSI 389Latin American Revolutionary Societies4
PLSI 392Latin American Political Thought4
PLSI 393Anarchist Political Theory4
PLSI 394Political Theories of Work, Labor, and Free Time4
PLSI 396Fascism and Communism in 20th Century Europe4

4. Public Law

PLSI 308Research and Writing for Public Law4
PLSI 478Judicial Process4
PLSI 481Race and Public Law4
PLSI 552Individual Rights and the Constitution4
PLSI 553Legal Issues4
PLSI 554Separation of Powers and Federalism4
PLSI 555Moot Court 24
PLSI 556Constitutional Law: First Amendment4
PLSI 557Constitutional Law: The Fourteenth Amendment4
PLSI 561Jurisprudence4
PLSI 610
PLSI 611
Judicial and Legal Internship
and Judicial and Legal Internship Seminar

Electives (7-10 units)

Select enough to reach 42 units for the major. It is recommended that elective units be taken in Political Science. However, up to 4 upper-division units may be selected from closely related departments with the consent of a major advisor. Please note that only 3 units of electives can come from lower-division coursework.

MEIS 300Foundations in Middle East and Islamic Studies3
GEOG/USP 433Urban Transportation4
GEOG/I R 445Geopolitics and Globalization3
GEOG/USP 658Land-Use Planning4
PLSI 100Understanding Politics3
PLSI 105Principles of Government and Politics3
PLSI 106Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy: Introduction to Political Economy3
PLSI/PHIL 150Contemporary Moral/Political Issues3
PLSI 216The 2020 Presidential Election: Issues and Analysis2
PLSI 318Modern Citizenship: Pundits, Podcasts, and Political Know-How in the 21st Century2
PLSI 320Political Forum2
PLSI/I R 321Development and Foreign Policy: Africa4
PLSI/I R 322Latin American Policy Analysis4
PLSI/I R 325Chinese Foreign Policy4
PLSI/I R 329U.S.-Japan Politics4
PLSI/I R 342Strategy and War4
PLSI/I R 362Domestic & Transnational Sources of U.S. Foreign Policy4
PLSI 373Essentials of California Politics1
PLSI 395Political Theories of Pedagogy and Community Activism3
PLSI/I R/JS 430Israeli Democracy: Politics, Institutions, and Society3
PLSI/USP 492Research Methods4
PLSI/USP 493Data Analysis4
PLSI/LABR 500Labor and Government3
PLSI/I R 544Women in the World4
PLSI/USP 560Urban Poverty and Policy4
PLSI/LABR/USP 570Urban Health Policy3
PLSI/USP 580Housing Policy and Planning3
PLSI 685Projects in the Teaching of Political Science1-4
PLSI 699Independent Study1-4

Senior Seminar: Culminating Experience (3-4 units)

PLSI 605Senior Seminar: Student's Choice Empirical Research Project4
PLSI 606Senior Seminar in American Politics3
PLSI 607Senior Seminar in Comparative Politics3
PLSI 608Senior Seminar in Political Theory3
PLSI 609Senior Seminar in Public Law: Legal Issues3

Note: A minimum of 30 upper-division units must be completed for the degree (including upper-division units required for the major, General Education, electives, etc.). A student can complete this major yet not attain the necessary number of upper-division units required for graduation. In this case, additional upper-division courses will be needed to reach the required total.

Complementary Studies

Twelve units of Complementary Studies are required of all candidates for the B.A. in Political Science. These units may come from any courses bearing a prefix other than PLSI that are not cross-listed with Political Science.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication I LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Humanities LD 3 C2
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Social Sciences: US & CA Government LD 3 D3
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD 3 E
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), a major or minor, or an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities LD or UD 3 AERM
Environmental Sustainability LD or UD 3 ES
Global Perspectives LD or UD 3 GP
Social Justice LD or UD 3 SJ

Note: LD = Lower-Division; UD = Upper-Division.

First-Time Student Roadmap (4 Year)

Find the correct roadmap (A, B, C, or D):

  1. Select the row that matches your English Course choice for A2.*
  2. Select the column that matches your QR Category (found at your student center under Math Alert).
  3. Click the Roadmap that lines up with your row and column.

For example, if you are taking ENG 104 as your first English course and your student center math alert says you are QR Category III, you should choose Roadmap D.

Pathway QR Cat I/II QR Cat III/IV
ENG 114 Roadmap A Roadmap C
ENG 104/ENG 105 Roadmap B Roadmap D

*Composition for Multilingual Students: If taking ENG 209 as your first English course, choose the ENG 114 row. If taking ENG 204 for your first English course, choose the ENG 104/ENG 105 row.

SF State Scholars

The San Francisco State Scholars program provides undergraduate students with an accelerated pathway to a graduate degree. Students in this program pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree simultaneously. This program allows students to earn graduate credit while in their junior and/or senior year, reducing the number of semesters required for completion of a master’s degree.

This roadmap opens in a new tab.

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an AA-T in Political Science. This roadmap opens in a new tab.

For students with an AA-T in Law, Public Policy and Society. This roadmap opens in a new tab.

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Political Science

California legislation SB 1440 (2009) mandated the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) to be awarded by the California Community Colleges. Two types of ADTs are awarded: Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T). 

Note: no specific degree is required for admission as an upper-division student. However, the ADT includes specific guarantees related to admission and graduation and is designed to clarify the transfer process and strengthen lower-division preparation for the major.

An ADT totals 60 units and in most cases includes completion of all lower-division General Education requirements and at least 18 units in a specific major. (The Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science AS-T degrees defer 3 units in lower-division GE area C and 3 units in lower-division GE area D until after transfer.) Students pursuing an ADT are guaranteed admission to the CSU if minimum eligibility requirements are met, though not necessarily to the CSU campus of primary choice.

Upon verification that the ADT has been awarded prior to matriculation at SF State, students are guaranteed B.A. or B.S. completion in 60 units if pursuing a “similar” major after transfer. Determinations about “similar” majors at SF State are made by faculty in the discipline.

Degree completion in 60 units cannot be guaranteed when a student simultaneously pursues an additional major, a minor, certificate, or credential.

A sample advising roadmap for students who have earned an ADT and continue in a "similar" major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab on the degree requirements page for the major. The roadmap displays:

  • How many lower-division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower-division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • How to complete the remaining 60 units for the degree in four semesters.

Students who have earned an ADT should seek advising in the major department during the first semester of attendance.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower-division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California Government

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine:

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower-division major requirements for this major;
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government requirements.

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 semester units/90 quarter units required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper-division transfer (for example, if a course was not passed on the first attempt or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California Community College of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower-division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding the award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower-division General Education in Areas C and D until after transfer to focus on preparation courses for the major. This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.

Transferring From Institutions Other Than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower-division General Education requirements. Note that, as described below, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3, and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower-division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.

All Students Must Meet the Transfer Eligibility Requirements Outlined Below for Admission.

For more information, visit the Undergraduate Admissions section.

  • Complete 60 or more transferable semester units or 90 or more quarter units.
  • Earn a college grade point average of 2.0 or better in all transferable courses. Non-local area residents may be held to a higher GPA standard.
  • Be in good standing at the last college or university attended.
  • Complete 30-semester units (45-quarter units) of General Education, including four basic skills courses:
    1. One course in oral communication (same as CSU GE Area A1)
    2. One course in written composition (same as CSU GE Area A2)
    3. One course in critical thinking (same as CSU GE Area A3)
    4. One course in mathematics or quantitative reasoning (same as CSU GE Area B4)
  • The four basic skills courses and a minimum of 60 transferable semester units (90-quarter units) must be completed by the spring semester prior to fall admission, or by the fall semester prior to spring admission. Earn a C- or better grade in each basic skills course.