The Department of Political Science boasts one of the highest numbers of undergraduates choosing to study abroad each year. Part of the reason for this high total is the fact that learning about political systems in other countries adds to the value of the political science major. You can expect to:
1) Meet other political science students from across the globe and exchange ideas and cultural observations while increasing your understanding of politics outside the United States.
2) Study with other well-respected professors to enhance and complement the knowledge gained from our own incredibly talented faculty.
3) Gain new perspectives on specialty areas we may not feature.
4) Learn about politics that impact the global community and increase your awareness of international relations and organizations.
5) Challenge yourself in a new educational environment that naturally encourages exploration and growth.
6) Improve your language skills, become more independent, look for opportunities to volunteer, intern, or complete some other type of hands-on learning.
Prospective Political Science Students
As a political science major, you can expect to find a wide variety of courses available through study abroad programs administered by International Academic Programs (IAP). From introductory to upper level courses, there are many locations that offer political science course options. The biggest advantage to studying abroad through IAP is that all course credit will count as “in residence,” a significant factor in completing the 15 credits of upper level work required for the political science major.
Attend the Study Abroad Fair or visit the Program Search on the website to have an idea of what programs are available to you. Schedule an appointment with advisors at IAP to learn more about your study abroad program options. Once you have some clear program ideas, consult with the political science advisors. The more complex or ambitious your undergraduate program is (the number of additional majors or certificates, athletic or other heavy extracurricular involvement, etc.) the more you will need to plan in advance to fit study abroad in your academic career.
For these reasons, we recommend you declare your political science major BEFORE you go abroad. Your political science advisor will serve as a direct contact that can assist you with political science course equivalencies and answer questions about major requirements you may want to fulfill abroad. Your advisor can also work with you to plan for the semester you return to the Madison campus; remember, in most cases, you’ll be registering for the following semester from wherever you’re studying. By declaring early, you can avoid the guesswork that can occur for students with no major advisor. In addition, you will have continual access to all communications and announcements from the UW-Madison Political Science department while you’re away. Declarations can be filled out online and there are no pre-requisites to become a political science major.
Political Science Course Considerations Abroad
Almost all political science courses taken abroad will equate to a UW-Madison political science elective; this includes introductory as well as upper level coursework. Whenever possible, check with a political science advisor for pre-approval of any courses which do not present with a direct equivalent. Occasionally, a student is only able to determine which courses are available at the university they will be attending once they have arrived on the campus. In this case, submit any syllabi and/or course descriptions to your advisor through your MyStudyAbroad account once course selections are clear and we can work with you to determine equivalencies.
Because we have specific course numbers assigned for study abroad work, finding equivalencies for political science coursework is relatively easy. These “umbrella” courses enable us to give credit for courses that fall into any subfield:
- PoliSci 390 Study Abroad Topics: Topics in International Relations
- PoliSci 490 Study Abroad Topics: Topics in American Politics
- PoliSci 590 Study Abroad Topics: Topics in Political Philosophy
- PoliSci 690 Study Abroad Topics: Topics in Comparative Government
Please note that these courses are repeatable. For example, a student taking “Introduction to Australian Politics” and “Australian Politics During World War II” would most likely receive credit for two PoliSci 690 courses because we do not offer a direct equivalent to either of these courses. PoliSci 690 simply indicates you took a course in comparative politics while abroad.
We also review syllabi and award credit for specific equivalents that correspond with courses we offer in our department. You can see which courses have been approved in the past on individual IAP program pages. Once you select a specific program, select the Academics tab and then look under Course Equivalents for the list.
In general, it’s best to take no more than two political science courses while you’re abroad. There are a few reasons for this. First, taking more than two major courses at a school you’re not familiar with can be a challenge. Since your grades will count toward your GPA, you will want to ensure you have a very successful experience without upsetting the GPA you have worked so hard for to this point. Second, you’re going abroad! Be an academic explorer! Take as many types of new and exciting classes as you can. Don’t limit yourself to courses solely in your major because you may never have this unique opportunity again. Finally, when it comes to the political science methods course (PoliSci 200), you may have the opportunity to take that abroad, but in general, count on taking that on the UW-Madison campus.
Mapping Your Study Abroad Experience as a Political Science Major
As a freshman, going abroad can enhance your understanding of your major field of study and help you make a more informed decision regarding this choice. You can certainly take introductory political science courses to further explore and develop your interests! Freshmen can study abroad during winter intersession or summer term.
Second semester of your sophomore year could be a good time to go abroad, especially if you came into UW-Madison with quite a few AP credits and have reached junior or senior standing already. This may also be a good option for students who are looking to complete more than one major and/or certificate; it ensures you won’t run into problems later on as you try to complete specific requirements.
This is the most popular year to study abroad as a political science major. By junior year, you are able to explore your interests in more depth. At this point, many students have a better, more defined idea of their strengths in political science and know which areas they wish to enhance through study abroad. There are popular parliamentary internship programs as well as coursework specific to the politics of the particular country you’ve chosen that you’ll find particularly insightful at this stage in your academic career.
Political science majors can study abroad during senior year as long as they’ve made certain that any specific classes needed for graduation can be completed through the program they’ve chosen to attend. You’ll need to watch your Senior Residency Requirement closely with the help of your academic advisor.
Questions to Ask
Your Academic Advisor
- What classes must I complete for my degree (breadth/depth, major requirements, etc.)?
- Do I need to be on UW-Madison’s campus for any courses in my major?
- How many electives do I have outside of my major?
Your Study Abroad Advisor
- What classes can I take abroad?
- How and when do I select courses for my program?
- When will I know course equivalents for my program?
- What is the class structure like abroad?
Identifying Programs That are Right for You
Luckily, the political science major is incredibly flexible and, as a result, you can take courses at just about any university you find at the IAP website. Most of the programs offered at universities have at least one political science class. While the following programs seem to be most popular among our majors, feel free to explore all your options within IAP and find the program that fits your interests best!
United States: UW Wisconsin in Washington, DC Internship Program
Offers political science coursework and internships right in our own capital! Semester and summer options available. The Department of Political Science cosponsors this program and offers scholarships specifically for PS students.
Argentina: IFSA Argentina Study Abroad Programs
Spanish language pre-requisite; offers human rights concentration combined with field experience in a human rights organization.
Australia: Australian National University
Located in Canberra, the capital of Australia. ANU provides internship opportunities in addition to excellent course choices.
Chile: CIEE Liberal Arts in Santiago
Spanish language pre-requisite; enroll in up to three universities in Santiago and take university courses along with Chilean and other international students.
Czech Republic: CIEE Central European Studies
Rich in political history due to many recent changes: the end of communist rule, the formation of a republic, and admission to the EU. Offers a number of political science course options to choose from.
Denmark: Danish Institute for Study Abroad
Offers Justice and Human Rights track and European Politics track, each of which feature study tours in conjunction with coursework. Many political science courses available!
England: UW in London
Students looking for internship opportunities abroad should check out UW in London! You can intern with a member of Parliament for a unique look into English politics. The program also features specifically designed courses taught by UW-Madison professors.
England: University of Westminster
A popular university in London with a wide variety of political science offerings.
France: Institut d Etudes Politiques
French pre-requisite; highly competitive with limited spots for UW students but offers excellent course options.
Germany: Academic Year in Freiburg
German pre-requisite; UW-Madison offers this program in cooperation with Michigan State, Iowa, and the University of Michigan. Many course options to choose from, internship opportunities available!
Israel: Haifa University
Classroom instruction options include English, Hebrew, and Arabic; wide variety of courses offered at the only university located in northern Israel.
Jordan: CIEE Language and Culture in Amman
Students take Arabic at the start of the program and continue according to their level throughout the semester; offers challenging academics combined with cultural activities and travel and the possibility of internship.
Singapore: National University of Singapore
One of the smallest countries in the world, but packed with an ethnically diverse mix of cultures from across the globe; all courses are taught in English.
South Africa: University of Cape Town
English is one of South Africa’s 11 official languages! UW-Madison course in African history, politics, or language required prior to departure.
South Korea: Korea University
Known to have one of the most beautiful campuses in South Korea. KU prides itself not only in being a progressive and globally conscious institution but also one that plays a role in preserving and developing Korea’s unique culture.
Spain: WIP Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Spanish pre-requisite; a consortium featuring Wisconsin, Indiana, and Purdue (WIP) specially designed for American students to advance Spanish fluency and expand knowledge of Spanish literature, culture, history and the arts.
Turkey: Bogazici University
All courses are taught in English; offers not only a large number of political science courses but a wide variety of complementary disciplines.
Search all IAP programs
Research all programs using the IAP Program Search page. The above is not an exhaustive list of all programs that offer Political Science courses. There may be other programs that are a better fit for your individual needs or interests.