The following are a set of advising guidelines to assist students in fulfilling the requirements for a major in political science.

The topics covered here are the following:

1. Major Declaration Forms
2. Major Confirmation Forms
3. Advising for Study Abroad
4. Transferring Credit
5. Submitting an Honors Thesis Proposal

1. Major Declaration Forms

Sophomores must declare a major by December 1 if they intend to go abroad in their junior fall semester, and all sophomores must declare a major by March 10. Ideally, students pick a major advisor at the same time that they declare their major. Students should consult with the faculty member they wish to be their major advisor about a plan to complete the major, and this faculty advisor should review and sign major declaration forms.

The major advisor should also be the first person with whom the student consults on all subsequent matters (see below), including approval of major confirmation forms; planning for study abroad and consultation about which courses taken abroad can be counted toward fulfillment of the major; and any plans to amend the student's original major declaration.

The requirements for the political science major are nine courses total, one in each of the four subfields; 300-level work in at least two of the subfields, one of which must be a seminar. In strategizing with students about which courses to take in the major, advisors should encourage students to consider, among other things, the correct sequencing of courses; taking POL 199 early on if they plan on a lot of quantitative work; and enrolling in some of the law courses if they plan to go to law school.

If the faculty member is on sabbatical or otherwise unavailable, the chair can act in lieu of the faculty advisor on all these matters.

2. Major Confirmation Forms

All seniors are required to confirm their major by September 30. This requires a confirmation of major form, which is different from the declaration of major form. In essence, the confirmation of major form says that this is what the student actually did rather than this is what the student said she was going to do.

The major advisor should be the first person with whom the student meets to confirm her major. After such consultation, it is the major advisor who should sign the form confirming that the student completed the course of study discussed in the original major declaration form.

3. Advising for Study Abroad

In general, all Wellesley students who are considering a semester or more of international study are encouraged to complete a pre-advising form early in their sophomore year to assist the Office of International Study (OIS) in offering the most effective and efficient advice. See OIS for further details.

The first step for political science majors is to meet with their major advisors and develop a tentative plan for completing the major, including the courses that the student may wish to take abroad . Depending on the year of the student, this may entail either completing or amending the student's major declaration before she goes abroad. If there are any questions about the likelihood that a planned course should be included, the major advisor should contact the chair.

Study-abroad courses are not officially approved in advance, nor are courses ever approved for credit until after the course is completed. Major advisors should advise their students about which courses count as political science classes and therefore are more than likely to count toward fulfillment of the political science major requirements. Some crucial matters for the student to know include:

A student may take no more than four units in the Political Science major away from Wellesley. The political science department does not transfer credit at the 300-level from any other institution including MIT, which is treated the same as Wellesley.

Wellesley does give credit for internships. At times, students have used information gathered from an internship experience as part of the research for research papers in classes that they later take, including individual independent projects (250 or 350). In order to do so, the student will need to make arrangements with the professor who teaches a regular course or with a professor whose own expertise is in the same broad area as the internship and who is willing to work with the student to design a 250 or 350 that she would take when she is back on campus.

If the student plans to be away all or part of her junior year, she should be encouraged to begin thinking about whether or not she wishes to write a political science honors thesis and with whom she might work--before she leaves. Honors thesis proposals are due in the spring of a student's junior year, regardless of whether the student is abroad at the time that they are due; students studying abroad may submit their honors thesis proposals to the department electronically.

4. Transferring Credit

Official approval of each course taken away from Wellesley does not happen until after the student returns, nor does assignation of credit. After the course is completed , students who wish to use study-abroad courses to fulfill major, minor, or distribution credit need to fill out a Transfer of Credit form for each course and each requirement.

The Registrar, rather than the faculty advisor or the chair, then sets the amount of credit for courses taken somewhere other than Wellesley (the Registrar's office offers guidelines about which courses can and cannot be transferred for credit). It is only after the Registrar has determined the number of units for each course taken away from Wellesley that the chair formally approves each course as counting (or not counting) toward completing the political science major. At that point, it is often helpful for the student to provide more detailed course outlines and reading lists in case the chair needs to see them in order to evaluate the course.

The student will need the proper number of units for the major (for example: a major who wishes to transfer an IR course from another university might receive only .8 Wellesley credits for it). So it is crucial that, in the pre-study abroad advising process, the student checks to see if there is any experience about the number of units that have been assigned to courses from her planned school in the past.

For the purpose of meeting a subfield distribution requirement in the major, a student may count a course taken elsewhere provided that it transfers as at least .75 Wellesley units.

5. Submitting an Honors Thesis Proposal

In the Political Science Department, the Honors Program involves the writing of a thesis. Each honors student works closely throughout a full academic year with the faculty member(s) best able to advise her on the topic of her thesis. For qualified and motivated students, doing honors can be a very rewarding culmination to the Wellesley academic experience.

The deadline for juniors submitting an honors thesis proposal is the second Monday in April. All students will normally be expected to submit their proposals by this date.


Contact Us

Department of
Political Science

Pendleton East 249
Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481

Tel: 781.283.2194
Fax: 781.283.3644

William A. Joseph
Department Chair

Lynda Davis Jeha 
 Jean M. Walsh

Administrative Assistants

Burke, Euben, Joseph, Just, Krieger, Moon, Murphy, Paarlberg

Associate Professors:  Candland, Goddard, Han, Scherer

Assistant Professors:  GrattanHajjMacDonald, Woolfalk

Senior Lecturer:  Wasserspring


Visiting Faculty: 
Dionne, Ben-Josef Hirsch


Transfer Credit Advisor: Joseph

Faculty on Leave:

2014-15: Burke, Hajj, Moon

Spring 2015: Just, Scherer




Sem App Deadline Mon, Nov 3 by 4:00 pm
Sem Admit/Wait lists posted Fri, Nov 7 by 4:30 pm

Senior Thesis
April 23, 2015 by Noon to the Registar's Office

Class of 2015 Honors Thesis Proposal
Application due date Mon, April 13, 2015

Political Science Writing Prize
Due Date TBA - mid April 2015