Department of Politics

  • Chair

    Nolan M. McCarty

  • Associate Chair

    Christina Davis

  • Departmental Representative

    Joanne S. Gowa

  • Director of Graduate Studies

    Kristopher W. Ramsay

  • Professor

    Christopher H. Achen

    R. Douglas Arnold, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Gary J. Bass, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Mark R. Beissinger

    Charles R. Beitz

    Carles Boix, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Charles M. Cameron, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Brandice Canes-Wrone, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Thomas J. Christensen, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Christina Davis, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Aaron L. Friedberg, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Paul Frymer

    Robert P. George

    Martin I. Gilens

    Joanne S. Gowa

    G. John Ikenberry, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Kosuke Imai

    Amaney A. Jamal

    Atul Kohli, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Melissa Lane

    John B. Londregan, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Stephen J. Macedo, also University Center for Human Values

    Nolan M. McCarty, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Tali Mendelberg

    Helen V. Milner, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Andrew M. Moravcsik, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Jan-Werner Müller

    Alan W. Patten

    Grigore Pop-Eleches, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Markus Prior, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Kristopher W. Ramsay

    Thomas Romer, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Jacob N. Shapiro, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Anna B. Stilz. also University Center for Human Values

    Ezra N. Suleiman

    Leonard Wantchekon, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Keith E. Whittington

    Jennifer A. Widner, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Deborah J. Yashar, also Woodrow Wilson School

  • Associate Professor

    Rafaela M. Dancygier, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Matias Iaryczower

    Jonathan P. Kastellec

  • Assistant Professor

    Faisal Z. Ahmed

    David B. Carter

    Germán S. Gieczewski

    Andrew Guess, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Alisha C. Holland

    Desmond Jagmohan

    Melissa M. Lee, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Jonathan F. Mummolo, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Marc Ratkovic

    LaFleur N. Stephens

    Rory O. Truex, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Ali A. Valenzuela

    Omar Wasow

    Keren Yarhi-Milo, also Woodrow Wilson School

  • Lecturer

    Stefan Eich, also Council of the Humanities

  • Associated Faculty

    Christopher L. Eisgruber, Woodrow Wilson School, University Center for Human Values

    Daniel Garber, Philosophy

    Robert O. Keohane, Woodrow Wilson School

    Elizabeth Levy Paluck, Psychology, Woodrow Wilson School

    Philip N. Pettit, also University Center for Human Values

    Kim Lane Scheppele, Woodrow Wilson School, University Center for Human Values, Sociology

    Michael A. Smith, Philosophy

    Brandon Stewart, Sociology

    Jeffrey L. Stout, Religion

    Dara Z. Strolovitch, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Information and Departmental Plan of Study


Normally, students entering the department must have successfully completed at least two courses offered by the Department of Politics on a graded basis before the end of their sophomore year.  It is strongly recommended that one or both of the prerequisites be at the 200-level.

Program of Study

Course Selection. By the end of the senior year, all students in the department must complete, in addition to the prerequisites, eight departmental courses, of which two may be cognates. Students must attain an overall average of C or higher in the ten or more graded courses that count as departmentals.

Concentrators indicate a prospective primary field when they sign into the department in the spring of their sophomore year, and designate a primary field by the end of the first term of their junior year. Concentrators take courses in at least three of the fields listed below, designating one as their primary field of study, another as their secondary field, and an additional field. Students take a minimum of three courses in their primary field, two courses in their secondary field, and one course in a third field. One of three courses in the primary field normally is a 200-level course. Prerequisites may be used to satisfy field requirements. A course taken to satisfy the analytical requirement cannot be used to satisfy the field requirement. The department's website lists additional courses that will fulfill field requirements in a given year, including one-time-only courses. It also lists topics courses offered by other departments that have POL cross-listings and that therefore can be counted as departmental courses.

I. Political Theory: the PT sub-field focuses on the nature of justice, democracy, power, and other key ideas, and encourages students to develop frameworks for thinking evaluatively about pressing issues of politics and public policy of the day. POL 210, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 313, 315, 316, 321, 403, 410, 411, 412, 413, 416

II. American Politics: the AP sub-field focuses on the U.S. political system and includes the study of the development of the American system of governance, American political institutions, the attitudes and behaviors of U.S. residents, and the relationship between institutions and people. POL 220, 314, 315, 316, 318, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 330, 333, 349, 392, 420, 421, 422, 423

III. Comparative Politics: the CP sub-field focuses on the similarities and differences in patterns of politics around the world with attention to what happens within states regarding representation, economic development, violence, and effective government. POL 230, 349, 351, 352, 355, 356, 360, 362, 364, 366, 367, 374, 375, 378, 384, 386, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 479

IV. International Relations: the IR sub-field focuses on the study of politics among nations and non-state actors in world affairs including subjects such as the causes of war, the role of international law and institutions, economic interdependence, and cooperation to advance common goals for human rights and environmental protection. POL 240, 313, 380, 381, 385, 386, 388, 389, 392, 393, 397, 440, 441, 442, 443, 444

V. Methods in political science (cannot be the primary field): These courses provide undergraduate students with analytical tools they can use to conduct rigorous social science research. POL 250, 345, 346, 347, 450, 451, 452, 453

Analytic Requirement. The department maintains a list of politics courses that have an emphasis on methodological tools for research in political science. Concentrators are required to take a course to fulfill the analytic requirement, normally no later than the first term of their junior year. The courses used to fulfill the analytic requirement cannot be used to fulfill primary-, secondary-, or third-field requirements. The analytic requirement may be satisfied by POL 341, POL 345/SOC 305, POL 346, or POL 347. We will also accept ANT 300A, ANT 301A, ECO 202, ECO 302, ECO 312, ORF 245, PHI 201, SOC 404, WWS 200, or WWS 332.

Cognates. The department maintains a list of all cognates approved by the departmental representatives for each student. Cognates must be approved before or during the semester in which they are taken, and no later than the last Friday of classes. Courses taken in the Freshman or Sophomore year cannot be designated as cognates. Cognate courses should not be at the introductory level. Cognates cannot be used to satisfy field distribution requirements. To seek approval for a cognate, students must complete the politics cognate approval application and send it along with a current syllabus to the director of undergraduate studies or the relevant politics academic adviser for their review. Once a cognate has been approved, it may not be rescinded. Approved cognates will be used in the departmental honors calculation.

Graduate Courses. Well-prepared undergraduates may take graduate seminars for full University and departmental credit. To enroll in a graduate seminar, the student must have the signature approval of the instructor in charge of the seminar, the director of undergraduate studies, and the student's residential dean. The graduate course approval form can be picked up from and returned to the student's residential college office.

Departmental Tracks

The Department of Politics offers three tracks that provide more focused guidance to students who wish to address themes that bridge the sub-fields.  All students who declare their concentration in Politics are eligible to pursue one of the three tracks and should inform the undergraduate program administrator of their intention to pursue a track upon declaring the concentration in April of their sophomore year, and no later than February 1 of their junior year.  Students who select a track will still need to fulfill the requirements of a Politics concentrator.  The tracks provide additional guidance for structuring the program of study as a Politics concentrator, but students are not required to select a track to graduate with a degree in Politics. Courses may simultaneously fulfill both the program requirements and the Politics concentration requirements.  All courses taken to satisfy a track must be a on a graded basis and will factor into the Honors calculation.  [Please note: The degree will read A.B. in Politics and unlike University Certificates, the departmental program will not appear on the transcript. Concentrators who successfully complete the program’s requirements will receive a departmental attestation on Class Day.]

Program in American Ideas and Institutions. The Department of Politics, in collaboration with the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, offers the program in American Ideas and Institutions for students who wish to further and demonstrate their understandings of the three branches of the federal government and the values, ideas, and theories that underlie them and are animated by their workings. It draws together a menu of courses from American politics, political theory, public law, and other departmental offerings.

Requirements. A student in the program is required to complete five courses, one in each of the four topics listed below, as well as one more additionally chosen from any one of the areas.  No individual course number may be counted for more than one program requirement (even if, as in the case of POL 332 for example, the course may be taken by a student more than once as the topic changes annually).

(1) The Executive Branch: POL 325, 330, 332 (when approved by the program adviser), 394

(2) The Legislative Branch: POL 324, 329

(3) The Constitution and the Courts: POL 314, 315, 316, 320 

(4) American Political, Legal, and Constitutional Thought: WWS 370/POL 308, POL 314, 315, 316, 319, 321, 328, 332 (when approved by the program adviser)

Senior Thesis. While a student in the program must write a thesis on a topic related to the student's primary field, the thesis must also incorporate significant content related to themes in one or more of the topic areas of the program. The student should meet with the AIIP adviser during the fall semester of senior year to confirm the suitability of their thesis topic. On or before the thesis draft deadline, the appropriate content of the thesis must be certified by the AIIP adviser.

Program in Political Economy. The Department of Politics offers the Program in Political Economy for students who wish to further their understanding of social phenomena and individual behavior by combining the perspectives of its two constituent disciplines. The program allows and encourages students to use analytical tools from game theory, microeconomics and statistics to study political behavior, and to incorporate a thorough analysis of politics and collective decision-making into economic analysis.

Prerequisites. To participate in this program, students must complete two Politics courses and ECO 100 and ECO 101, and MAT 103 (or higher level) before the end of their sophomore year. All five of these courses should be taken on a graded basis (e.g., not p/d/f). (Under special circumstances, students can apply for exceptions or deferrals of these prerequisites. These requests will be considered by the PE advisor.)

Requirements. It is important for each student to select a combination of Economics and Politics courses that form a coherent and meaningful program. Before signing up for the first term of the junior year, the student should work out a tentative course outline for the next two years; this outline must be approved and signed by the PE adviser.

In addition to the PE prerequisites, a student in the PE program is required to complete the following courses, all of which will be counted as departmentals:

(1) Political Economy: either Political Economy (POL 349) or Comparative Political Economy (POL 352);

(2) Game Theory in Politics: Mathematical Models in the Study of Politics (POL 347);

(3) Quantitative Methods: POL 345/SOC 305, POL 346, ECO 202, ECO 302, or ECO 312;

(4) Microeconomics: One of the following Intermediate Microeconomics courses: ECO 300, ECO 310, or WWS 300;

(5) Macroeconomics/Topics: One of the following courses: Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECO 301, ECO 311), International Trade (WWS 301/ECO 352), International Development (WWS 302/ECO 359), Public Economics (WWS 307/ECO 349).

Together with five additional courses in the Politics Department (possibly including POL courses counted as prerequisites), this ten course combination fulfills the requirements both for the PE program and for the major, and is used in calculating department honors.

Students in the PE program must also fulfill the distribution requirement of the Department, however, the quantitative methods course will satisfy the Politics Department's analytical requirement, while POL 347 can serve as a course in a third field.

Senior Thesis. While a student in the program must write a thesis on a topic related to the student's primary field, the thesis must also incorporate significant PE content. On or before the thesis draft deadline, the PE content of the thesis must be certified by the PE adviser. The student should meet with the PE adviser well in advance of this deadline to discuss the PE content of the thesis.

Program in Quantitative and Analytical Political Science. The program in Quantitative and Analytical Political Science is designed for students who wish to deepen their understanding of quantitative and analytical methods to study key questions in political science.

Prerequisite. MAT 175 (or its equivalent EGR 192, MAT 201, MAT 203)

Requirements. In addition to the prerequisite, students must complete four courses among those listed below along with six other departmental courses. Of the following six courses, students must take four with at least one being in Quantitative Analysis as well as at least one from the Game Theory and Applications category.

Quantitative Analysis: POL 245, 345, 346
Game Theory and Applications: POL 347, 349, 352

Senior Thesis. While a student in the program must write a thesis on a topic related to the student's primary field, the thesis must also incorporate quantitative and/or analytics methods at a level similar or superior to the material covered in the program requirements. The student should meet with the QAPS adviser during the fall semester of senior year to confirm the suitability of their thesis research design. On or before the thesis draft deadline, the appropriate content of the thesis must be certified by the QAPS adviser.

Independent Work

Junior Year. Students are required to complete two semesters of junior independent work. Junior Workshops will meet every other week of the Fall teaching period and on alternating weeks, students are required to view online plenary session video modules and attend a 50-minute discussion section. The plenary component provides common instruction in research procedures and techniques. In their Fall Junior Workshops, juniors will complete a series of assignments building up to a research prospectus. [NOTE: Junior Workshops are not considered courses and do not count toward satisfying departmental course requirements.] In the spring semester, juniors will complete a Junior Paper under the supervision of an independent work adviser. Students must achieve at least a “D” on each of their two semesters of junior independent work as well as an average of a “C” or above across the two. If the average of the two is below “C” or one of the two receives an “F”, a second Junior Paper is required (with a grade that brings the average of the passing two junior independent work grades to “C” or better) before entering the senior year. For purposes of this requirement, the grades before the application of any late penalties are used.

Senior Year. During the senior year, each student writes a thesis. The senior thesis normally is written on a topic within a student's primary field.

The department encourages students to use the summer between junior and senior year for work on the senior thesis.

Study Abroad

The department encourages students to consider studying abroad for one term or even for a full year in conjunction with departmental concentration in politics. If, under a program approved in advance by the dean of the college, a concentrator in politics studies abroad for the equivalent of an academic year at Princeton, the department is willing to credit as departmentals as many as four courses in political science or related fields when they are taken at a foreign university. Normally, the department is willing to substitute no more than one cognate and one departmental or two cognates for concentrators studying abroad for one term.

Senior Thesis Poster Session

Effective with the Class of 2018, seniors will be required to prepare and present a professional poster describing their senior thesis research in lieu of taking a senior comprehensive exam.