Area of Focus
  • Behavioral & Social Sciences
Degrees Offered
  • B.A.
  • Ph.D.
  • Undergraduate Minor
Academic Division
  • Social Sciences
  • Politics

Program overview

The most significant purpose of the politics major is to help educate a reflective and activist citizenry capable of sharing power and responsibility in a contemporary democracy. Courses address issues central to public life, such as democracy, power, freedom, political economy, social movements, institutional reforms, and how public life, as distinct from private life, is constituted. Our majors graduate with the kind of sharp analytical and critical thinking skills that set them up for success in a variety of careers.

Students in class

Learning Experience

Study and Research Opportunities
  • B.A., Ph.D.; undergraduate Politics minor, graduate Politics designated emphasis
  • Combined Politics / Latin American and Latino Studies undergraduate major available
  • UCDC Program in our nation's capital. Spend a quarter at the UC campus in Washington, D.C.; study and gain experience in an internship
  • UCCS Program in Sacramento. Spend a quarter learning about California politics at the UC Center in Sacramento; study and gain experience in an internship
  • UCEAP: Study abroad through the UC Education Abroad Program in one of hundreds of programs in more than 40 countries around the world
  • UC Santa Cruz also offers its own study abroad programs.

First-Year (Freshman) Requirements

No specific courses at the high school level are required for admission to the major in politics at UC Santa Cruz. Courses in history, philosophy, and the social sciences, whether taken at the high school or college level, are appropriate background and preparation for the politics major.

Students studying together outside

Transfer Requirements

This is a non-screening major. Transfer students will find it helpful to complete college courses that satisfy UC Santa Cruz general education requirements. Courses from other institutions may be considered only if they appear on the student’s transfer credit list on the MyUCSC portal. Students are allowed to substitute only one course taken elsewhere to satisfy a Politics Department lower-division requirement. Students should discuss the process with the department adviser.

California community college students may complete the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) before transferring to UC Santa Cruz.

Transfer course agreements between UC and California community colleges can be accessed at ASSIST.ORG.

Student putting fliers up

Learning Outcomes

We design our curriculum with the aim of empowering our students to:

1. Understand the origins, development and nature of political institutions, practices, and ideas;

2. Place particular political phenomena in broader historical, cross-national, cross-cultural and theoretical context;

3. Demonstrate familiarity with various theoretical approaches to the study of politics, and their application in different geographic and substantive areas;

4. Critically evaluate arguments about political institutions, practices and ideas based on logic and evidence;

5. Develop and sustain coherent written and oral arguments regarding political phenomena, theories, and values based on appropriate empirical and/or textual evidence and logic.


Students studying

Internships and Career Opportunities

  • Business: Local, international, government relations
  • Congressional staffing
  • Foreign service
  • Government: career civil servant positions at local, state, or national level
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Legislative research
  • Lobbying
  • NGOs and non-profit organizations
  • Organizing in the areas of labor, environment, social change
  • Policy analysis
  • Political campaigns
  • Political science
  • Public administration
  • Secondary school and college teaching

These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.

Program Contact



apartment Merrill Faculty Services
phone (831) 459-2505

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