Political Science Certificate

Certificate Overview

There are many definitions of political science. But whether a definition focuses on the analysis of governmental structures, or influences on voter choice, or the relationship between national governments, or the best form of government, at base, political science is about the systematic study of power. Whether power is exercised formally, as is the case between government and the individual, or informally, as is the case between individuals, it is the systematic study of power relationships that provides the subject matter for the discipline.

Students who pursue a certificate in political science obtain not only an understanding of the workings of government, but they also develop important skills in critical thinking and analysis. These skills make them ideal candidates for careers in law; in government at the state, national, and international levels; in business; in journalism; and in politics. The certificate pairs well with any major and provides political context to many areas of study.

Requirements and Declaration | Advising | Frequently Asked Questions

 

Requirements and Declaration

Requirements

The certificate in political science requires sixteen (16) political science (Poli Sci) credits selected from the categories listed on our Guide page, of which twelve (12) credits must be taken on campus. Students can explore the certificate by taking one of our introductory courses in American Politics (Poli Sci 104), Comparative Politics (Poli Sci 120), International Relations (Poli Sci 140) or Political Theory (Poli Sci 160).

View Certificate Requirements on the UW Madison Guide

Many common questions about certificate requirements are addressed in our FAQ section

Declaration

The certificate pairs well with any major and provides political context to many areas of study. There are no prerequisites for declaring the Political Science certificate.

Political science majors are not eligible to declare the Political Science certificate.

Complete the Certificate Declaration Form Here

Advising

Madelyn Demchick: Hi, my name is Madelyn (Maddy) Demchick and I am a Senior studying political science, international studies, public policy and education policy studies. I am originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While at UW, I interned for the Fratelli Group, a public affairs firm based in Washington, D.C. as part of the Wisconsin in Washington program this past spring semester. I plan on attending law school in the fall of 2023 following my graduation this December! My interests include conflict resolution and international reconciliation. I am looking forward to getting to know all of you this year!

Contact Information: Email: mdemchick@wisc.edu | Schedule an appointment with Maddy


If you are interested in advising for the Political Science major, you can find more information here

Scheduling

All currently declared students and current UW-Madison undergraduate students interested in the Political Science certificate are welcome to schedule an appointment  with our peer advisor, Maddy Demchick. Advising appointments can be made through Starfish. You can access Starfish from your MyUW dashboard.

To add the Starfish app:

  1. Login to MyUW
  2. Search for Starfish
  3. Click Add to home for easy access
  4. Launch the app

Please click this link for instructions on how to use Starfish.

Frequently Asked Questions

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I am majoring in Political Science. Can I also enroll in the Political Science certificate?

No, Political Science majors are not eligible to declare the Political Science certificate. If you decide to switch from the major to the certificate, you will first need to cancel the Political Science major.

What is the difference between the Political Science Certificate and the Political Economy Philosophy and Politics (PEPP) Certificate?

Both certificates are housed in the Department of Political Science. Students who enroll in the PEPP certificate will thus take coursework from political science, economics, and philosophy, Students who enroll in the Political Science certificate will take coursework from political science only. More information about the PEPP certificate can be found here. The PEPP certificate is open to students in any major, and the Political Science certificate is open to students in any major except the Political Science major.

Are there any prerequisites to declaring the Political Science certificate?

No. Students can declare at any time. Political science majors are not eligible to declare the Political Science certificate.

If I am declared in the Political Science certificate, can I choose to pursue the Political Science major instead?

Absolutely! Complete the certificate cancellation form, then complete the form to declare the Political Science major.. A student cannot be enrolled in both the Political Science certificate and major. If you’d like to talk with an advisor about the Political Science major, you can find more information here.

How many credits is the Political Science certificate?

The certificate requires a minimum of 16 credits from the requirements list. You can view all requirements on our Guide page.

How can I check to see if I already meet some requirements for the certificate?

You can review certificate requirements on our Guide page. You can also run a “What-If” DARS audit for the certificate.

I have not yet taken any Political Science courses. How do I know where to start?

The best place to start the certificate is with one of the courses listed under the “Introductory Courses” section of the requirements list. Choose your course based on the area of Political Science you are most interested in studying. Many of the “Reading and Writing in Political Science” and “Elective” courses have an introductory course as a prerequisite, so it’s important to plan according to your interests. If you’d like to discuss course planning with the department, our talented Peer Advisors are here to help! You can find information about them and how to schedule on our website.

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I have AP credits in Political Science, how many can count toward the certificate?

Up to 4 AP credits can count toward the 16 required for the certificate. Note that 12 certificate credits must be completed on campus. Only a direct equivalent of POLISCI104 or POLISCI120 from AP exam credit can count toward the certificate. Elective credit awarded for a score of a “3” on the AP exam does not count toward certificate requirements.

I have transfer credits, how many can count toward the certificate?

Up to 4 transfer credits can count toward the 16 required for the certificate. Note that 12 certificate credits must be completed on campus. An excess of 4 transfer credits may be applied to specific requirements of the certificate (i.e. a transfer of POLISCI140 and POLISCI347 would be applied toward both the “Introductory Course” and “Reading and Writing in Political Science requirements”, respectively) however the 12 credit on campus requirement would still remain in effect. 

I have study abroad credits in residence from a UW-approved program, how many can count toward the certificate?

Up to 4 credits from a study abroad program can count toward the certificate. Note that 12 credits must be completed on campus. 

I have study abroad credits from the Wisconsin in Washington program, how many can count toward the certificate?

Up to 4 credits from a study abroad program, including Wisconsin in Washington, can count toward the certificate. Note that 12 credits must be completed on campus.

I have a combination of AP credits, transfer credits, and study abroad credits, how many total can count toward the certificate?

Up to 4 credits taken off-campus (this includes AP/IB credits, transfer credits, study abroad credits, and Wisconsin in Washington program credits) can count toward the certificate in total. Note that 12 credits must be completed on campus. An excess of 4 off-campus credits may be applied to specific requirements of the certificate (i.e. AP credit for POLISCI104 and study abroad credit for POLISCI347 would be applied toward both the “Introductory Course” and “Reading and Writing in Political Science requirements”, respectively) however the 12 credit on campus requirement would still remain in effect. 

Does an online course count toward the “on campus” credit requirement?

Yes. Any class taken at UW Madison, whether online or in person, is considered on campus.

How do I get advising for the Political Science certificate?

Our talented Peer Advisors are here to help! You can find information about them and how to schedule on our website.