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Political Science

Administrative Information

Director of Undergraduate Studies:
David Johnston, Professor, 705 IAB; 854-3955; dcj1@columbia.edu

Economics-Political Science Advisers:
Economics: Susan Elmes, Director of Undergraduate Studies, 1006 IAB; se5@columbia.edu
Political Science: Massimo Morelli, Professor, 720 IAB; 854-5941; mm3331@columbia.edu

Poltical Science-Statistics Advisers:
Political Science: Robert Shapiro, Professor, 730 IAB; 854-3944; rys3@columbia.edu
Statistics: Daniel Rabinowitz, Professor, 1255 Amsterdam Avenue, Room 1014; 851-2141; dan@stat.columbia.edu

Departmental Office: 710 IAB; 854-3707

Professors
Richard K. Betts
Jagdish Bhagwati (also Economics)
Partha Chatterjee (also Anthropology)
Jean L. Cohen
Gerald L. Curtis
Rodolfo de la Garza (also School of International and Public Affairs)
Michael Doyle (also School of International and Public Affairs, and School of Law)
Jon Elster
Robert Erikson
Virginia Page Fortna (chair)
Timothy Frye
Ester Fuchs (also School of International and Public Affairs)
Andrew Gelman (also Statistics)
Donald P. Green
Fredrick Harris
Jeffrey Henig (also Teachers College)
John Huber
Macartan Humphreys
Robert Jervis
David C. Johnston
Ira Katznelson (also History)
Sudipta Kaviraj (also Middle Eastern, Asian Languages, and Africa Cultures)
Mahmood Mamdani (also Anthropology)
Isabela Mares
Massimo Morelli (also Economics)
M. Victoria Murillo (also School of International and Public Affairs)
Andrew J. Nathan
Sharyn O'Halloran (also School of International and Public Affairs)
Nathaniel Persily (also School of Law)
Kenneth Prewitt (also School of International and Public Affairs)

Professors (continued)
Robert Y. Shapiro
Jack Snyder
Alfred Stepan (also School of International and Public Affairs)
Michael Ting (also School of International and Public Affairs)
Nadia Urbinati
Gregory Wawro

Associate Professors
Shigeo Hirano
Jeffrey Lax
Justin Phillips
Pablo Pinto
Dorian Warren (also School of International and Public Affairs)

Assistant Professors
Christopher Blattman
Daniel Corstange
Turkuler Isiksel
Kimuli Kasara
Yotam Margalit
Salvatore Nunnari
Tonya Putnam
Kay Shimizu
Johannes Urpelainen

Senior Lecturer
Kathleen Knight

On Leave
Profs. Erikson, Gelman, Harris, Hirano, Huber, Margalit, Shimizu (2013-2014)
Profs. Blattman, Nathan (Fall 2013)
Profs. Betts, Curtis, Jervis, Lax, Phillips (Spring 2014)

The discipline of political science focuses on issues of power and governance and, in particular, on political institutions, both formal and informal. It also focuses on political behavior, political processes, political economy, and state-society relations. The field consists of four substantive subfields: the largest being American politics, which covers such topics as national and local politics, elections, and constitutional law; the second is comparative politics, which aims at understanding the political systems of other countries, both by studying individual states and by engaging in cross-national comparisons; the third, international relations, deals with the ways that states and other political actors behave in the international arena, including such topics as security, foreign policies, international organizations, and international economic relations; and the fourth, political theory, analyzes the history of normative political thought as well as of analytic concepts such as the nature of justice or of liberty. Other broad topics, such as “political economy,” or the study of the relationships between economic and political processes, overlap with the subfields, but also constitute a separate program (see below). Methodology, including statistical analysis and formal modeling, also occupies an important place in the discipline.

Advanced Placement

The department grants credit toward the major for work completed under the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) Advanced Placement Program. Students receive 3 academic credits and exemption from POLS W1201 or V1501 for scores of 5 in the United States and Comparative Government and Politics AP Exams.

Advising

The Department of Political Science offers a variety of advising resources to provide undergraduate majors and concentrators with the information and support needed to successfully navigate through the program. These resources are described below.

Undergraduate Advising Office

Students should take questions or concerns about the undergraduate program to the department's Undergraduate Advising Office first. If advisers cannot answer a student's question, they then refer the student to the appropriate person.

The Undergraduate Advising Office is staffed by political science Ph.D. students who hold open office hours at least once per week. (The schedule can be found on-line at http://polisci.columbia.edu/academic-programs/undergraduate-programs/advising.) Students should stop by during these hours with questions about requirements, course selection, course of study, transfer and study abroad credit, and any other aspect of the program. Students should also visit the Undergraduate Advising Office for assistance in completing the political science program planning form (available in the office, or on-line at http://polisci.columbia.edu/academic-programs/undergraduate-programs/planning-forms). The advisers must sign and date this form in the approval column next to any listed class that requires approval to be counted toward the program (transfer courses, non-traditional courses, etc.). These forms cannot be completed by faculty advisers. Each student's planning form is kept on file in the department, so that each semester they may meet with an adviser to update it.

The advisers are also available to speak with students about more substantive issues, including research interests, internships and post-college plans. Since the advisers have been through the graduate school application process, they are great resources with whom students may discuss the process. Also, because they are current Ph.D. students in the department, they are familiar with political science faculty research interests and can therefore refer students to a professor for thesis advice, a research assistant job, or to form a connection with a faculty member whose research corresponds to a student's own interest.

Requesting a Faculty Adviser

Often the best way for students to obtain advising from a faculty member is to contact a professor with whom they have taken a class in an area of interest. Students also have the option of having a faculty adviser assigned by the department. To request a faculty adviser, students should complete the Faculty Adviser Request Form and submit it to the undergraduate coordinator, during the first two weeks of the semester.

Students may consult their faculty adviser for any substantive issue, but still must visit walk-in advising hours to have courses approved, to fill out and update planning forms, and to discuss departmental requirements and regulations.

Director of Undergraduate Studies

The director of undergraduate studies oversees the undergraduate program and is available during office hours. While a student's first stop for advising should be the Undergraduate Advising Office, the director of undergraduate studies is available to answer any questions that the undergraduate advisers or the undergraduate coordinator cannot. In such cases, the undergraduate coordinator and advisers refer students to the director of undergraduate studies.

Economics–Political Science Adviser

Economics–political science majors may consult Professor Massimo Morelli during his office hours. Please note that students should also see an undergraduate adviser to discuss major requirements and fill out a planning form. For any questions about the economics–political science program that an undergraduate adviser cannot answer, students are referred to Professor Erikson.

Political Science–Statistics Adviser

Political science–statistics majors may consult Professor Robert Shapiro during his office hours. Please note that students should also see an undergraduate adviser to discuss major requirements and fill out a planning form. For any questions about the political science–statistics program that an undergraduate adviser cannot answer, students are referred to Professor Shapiro.

Faculty at-large

Students are encouraged to contact any professor for advice during his or her office hours or by arrangement to discuss interests in political science, course selection, and other academic or post-college issues. The faculty may provide advice about graduate schools, suggest literature a student might consult as sources for research, recommend specific courses or professors based on a student's interests, or offer information about research opportunities with faculty. However, students should note that any issues surrounding departmental regulations and requirements, major certification, course approvals, etc., are addressed at the Undergraduate Advising Office.

Honors Program

The department offers an honors program for a limited number of seniors who want to undertake substantial research projects and write honors theses. The honors thesis is expected to be at least 75 pages in length and of exceptional quality.

Honors students perform research as part of a full-year honors seminar (POLS C3998-C3999, 8 points total) during their senior year, in place of the seminar requirement for majors. Honors students may, however, take regular seminars to fulfill other course requirements for the major. Theses are due in late March or early April. To be awarded departmental honors, the student must satisfy all the requirements for the major, maintain a 3.6 GPA in the major, and complete a thesis of sufficiently high quality to merit honors.

The honors seminar director provides general direction for the seminar. The honors seminar director supervises all students; each student also works with a faculty member in his or her major subfield (American politics, comparative politics, international relations, or political theory) and a preceptor. The honors seminar meets weekly for part of the year and covers general issues involved in research and thesis writing, such as how to develop research questions and projects; methodology; sources of evidence; and outlining and drafting long papers. The sessions are also used for group discussions of students’ research and thesis presentations. Students are also expected to meet periodically with the supervising professor and preceptor.

Students who wish to apply to the honors program must notify the department in writing by the end of the spring semester of the junior year. Please check the department website for the official deadline. Normally no more than 10% of the graduating majors in the department each year may receive departmental honors. Applicants are required to have already completed the methods requirement for the major.

Applications must include:

  1. A cover page with the student’s name, CUID number, e-mail address, and school (Columbia College or General Studies);
  2. An official transcript, which may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar in Kent Hall, or from Student Services On-Line.
  3. A writing sample, preferably a paper written for a political science course;
  4. A brief description (no more than one page) of a possible thesis topic. For guidelines for writing a proposal, please see here.

These items should be sent to:

Department of Political Science
Attn: Departmental Honors
420 West 118th Street
Mail Code 3320
New York, NY 10027

In addition, students are encouraged to find a faculty sponsor for their thesis proposal. Students who have identified a faculty sponsor should indicate the sponsor in the proposal; students without a faculty sponsor should identify a faculty member with whom they would like to work. Research areas for the political science department faculty are listed on the department's website. Students will be notified by email of the decision taken on their applications before fall registration.

Students who are not accepted into the honors seminar, or who decide after the application deadline that they would like to write an honors thesis may take one or two semesters of Special Reading and Research in order to write a thesis to submit for honors consideration. For registration information and more details about this process, students should contact the undergraduate coordinator. Students may also submit for honors consideration a paper written for a class. Note that most honors theses are at least 75 pages in length. All theses must be submitted along with a confidential assessment of the paper by the supervising instructor in order to be considered for departmental honors. Students who choose this path must also complete all the requirements for the major and maintain a minimum major GPA of 3.6. Theses are due in late March or early April, and decisions about departmental honors are announced in May.

Students who are not accepted into the Honors Seminar, or who decide after the application deadline that they would like to write an honors thesis may take one or two semesters of Independent Study in order to write a thesis to submit for honors consideration. For registration information and more details about this process, students should contact the Undergraduate Coordinator. Students may also submit for honors consideration a paper written for a class. Note that most honors theses are at least 75 pages in length. All theses must be submitted along with a confidential assessment of the paper by the supervising instructor in order to be considered for departmental honors. Students who choose this path must also complete all the requirements for the major and maintain a minimum major GPA of 3.6. Theses are due in late March or early April, and decisions about departmental honors are announced in May.

Departmental Prizes and Fellowships

The Department of Political Science administers the following prizes and awards. Unless otherwise noted, students do not play an active part in the nomination process. Rather, faculty members nominate students at their own discretion. Departmental prizes are reserved for political science majors.

Charles A. Beard Prize

A cash prize awarded every other year to the student who writes the best paper in political science during the academic year.

Caroline Phelps Stokes Prize

A cash prize established at the bequest of Caroline Phelps Stokes is awarded to a student who has been a degree candidate at Columbia College or Barnard College for at least one academic year, and who has written the best essay in course or seminar work on the general subject of human rights.

Allan J. Willen Memorial Prize

A cash prize awarded to the Columbia College student who writes the best seminar paper on a contemporary American political problem.

Edwin Robbins Academic Research/Public Service Fellowship

The Robbins Fellowship provides a stipend each summer for at least two political science students in Columbia College who will be engaged in research in important matters of politics or policy making or who will be working, without other compensation, as interns in a governmental office, agency, or other public service organization. Each spring, the department invites students to submit fellowship proposals. Awards are announced in late April or early May.

The Arthur Ross Foundation Award

A cash prize awarded to GS students for excellence in the field of political science.

Phyllis Stevens Sharp Fellowship in American Politics

The Phyllis Stevens Sharp Endowment Fund provides stipends each year during either academic semester or the summer for one or more Columbia College or School of General Studies students majoring or concentrating in political science to support research in American politics or policy making or otherwise uncompensated internships in a government office, agency, or other organization serving the public. Each spring, the department invites students to submit fellowship proposals. Awards are announced in late April or early May.

Early Admission to the Master's Degree Program in Political Science for Columbia and Barnard Political Science Undergraduates

While the Department of Political Science does not offer a joint bachelor of arts/master’s degree, it does allow Columbia and Barnard undergraduates to apply for early admission to its master’s degree program. This enables qualified undergraduates majoring or concentrating in political science to obtain the B.A. degree and M.A. degree in fewer than five years (ten semesters) from the time of their entrance into Columbia or Barnard, if they fulfill the M.A. course and residency requirements through summer course work after receiving the B.A. or accelerated study during the course of their undergraduate career. Students may apply as early as their junior year or the fall of their senior year to begin graduate study in the summer or fall following their graduation with the B.A. degree. The department and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences accepts for graduate credit (advanced standing) up to nine credits of appropriate graduate courses taken at Columbia while the student is an undergraduate. Such courses must be in excess of the courses and credits required for the B.A. degree and undergraduate major or concentration.

For further information about the application process and minimal qualifications for early admission, please contact the director of undergraduate studies.

For further information about requirements for the M.A. degree, see http://gsas.columbia.edu/content/academic-programs/political-science.