Courses in Political Science

Within the broad discipline of Political Science, the department offers courses in four distinct subfields:  American Politics, Political Theory, Comparative Politics and International Relations.  Note that all courses are not offered every year.

The course catalog has a complete list of course descriptions, and current academic year offerings can be found in ClassFinder.


Course Catalog     ClassFinder

Political Science courses meet degree requirements for Political Science majors and minors; a limited number of courses - PLSC 101, 250, 261, 271, 291, 311, 346 and 372 - also meet Western's GUR requirements. Sometimes registration for courses reaches capacity and at that point students may sign up for an automated waitlist.  Notifications are sent as seats become available.  The Political Science Department reserves the right to manage its waitlists to give priority to students who have applied to graduate and must take courses to satisfy graduation requirements.

For more information about the Western’s waitlist policies and procedures, please consult the Registrar’s Office or go to:

Registration Waitlisting for Students

Waitlist Notifications via Text Messaging 

If you are a student transferring to Western Washington University or a current student considering a study abroad program, you may have questions about how credits will transfer and apply towards your studies in Political Science.

For Students Transferring to Western from a College in Washington State

Students who undertake comparable coursework in Political Science at a Washington state community college or baccalaureate institution are often able to transfer those credits to apply towards degree requirements at Western Washington University.  For example, a student who has completed Political Science 202, American Government at Bellevue Community College will receive credit at Western for Political Science 250, The American Political System.  However, not all courses can be transferred as equivalents to Political Science classes at Western.

For a complete list of transferable courses in Political Science (and other fields), please consult the Transfer Course Equivalency Guide available on the Registrar’s Office website.  The site allows students to search by school and subject and includes Washington state community colleges and baccalaureate institutions.

Alternately students can run a Transfer Equivalency Report using Web4U to show how credits from the transfer institution will be accepted at Western.  (Select Student; Select Student Records; Select Transfer Equivalency Report).

Transferring Credit from Other U.S. Institutions

Students wishing to receive credit for Political Science classes that they took at another college (and are not listed in the Transfer Course Equivalency Guide) are asked to provide the department with a syllabus from the class as well as any other work that demonstrates the scope of material covered. Transfer class equivalencies will be reviewed by the Chair of the Department before credit is approved to be counted toward the major. The more information about the class that you can provide, the more likely you are to receive credit for it.

Applying Transfer Credits towards the Major/Minor

The Political Science Major requires a total of 60 credits, at least half of which must be completed at Western.  No more than 12 transfer credits can be accepted toward the Political Science Minor.

For Students Considering a Study Abroad Program

The Political Science Department encourages and supports study abroad programs for the learning and cultural experiences they offer our students.  We understand that students are also anxious to ensure that their international experiences will count towards their degree requirements at Western Washington University.  Students can apply a maximum of 10 approved study abroad credits towards their Political Science major requirements.

Students participating in Western Faculty-Led Travel Programs such as the summer South Africa NGOs in Development program will earn Western credits that can be applied towards their degree program.   For other study abroad experiences, transfer credit is not approved in advance of the program.  In cooperation with the International Programs & Exchanges Office, the Department will evaluate the completed coursework when the student returns to Western and provides the following documents:

  • A transcript from the foreign institution showing completed coursework.
  • Syllabi
  • Course descriptions of the courses being evaluated.

Please note that a minimum grade of C- is required for credit to be considered. 

More information about transfer credit policies.

Students wishing to pursue research and directed reading in areas of the discipline where they have had prior coursework may apply to do independent study projects.

Enrollment in an independent study is with the consent of an instructor and the Chair of the Department. Come to the Political Science Department Office to get a green Directed Independent Study permit card. Obtain all required signatures, then go in person to the Registrar’s Office to have the permit processed.

To drop a directed independent study course, you must go in person to the registar's office.

No more than 10 credits of Independent Study and Internship combined, may be counted toward the major.