Frequently Asked Questions

For Political Science Majors

What courses do I need to earn a bachelor of arts (BA) degree in Political Science?

Howard students must complete a minimum of 120 credits. These credits fall into four categories:
  • Major: Political Science (POLS) Major: 33 POLS credits
  • A Minor: Students can choose a minor in COAS (College of Arts and Sciences), SOC (School of Communications), 
    SOB (School of Business), or SOEd (School of Education). The minor requires 15-18 credits. 
    • Different schools, like SOC, SOB, SOEd, have different requirements for Political Science (POLS) majors.
  • General education courses (Divisional A, B and D, philosophy, speech, etc.)
  • University course requirements (e.g., English, speech, health education, foreign language, swimming, etc.).

CURRENT POLS Major are required to take FOUR (4) POLs courses + 7 POLS electives

  • Intro to Political Science
  • Intro to Research in Political Science
  • National Government of the U.S.
TAKE ONE of the following POLS theory courses:
  • Introduction to Political Theory
  • Black Political Theory
  • Modern Political Theory

7 additional POLS COURSES, known as electives
NOTE: For POLS Majors:
  • Maximum 6 POLS Internship Credits
  • Maximum 3 Independent Study Credits 

See this link to the Political Science Degree Completion Map.

Is a concentration required for my POLS major? What are my options for a concentration within my POLS major?

No, POLS majors do not choose a concentration; rather, the Department offers courses in the major subfields of Political Science: American Politics, Black Politics, International Relations, Comparative Politics, Political Theory, and Public Policy. Students can choose to take courses that focus in one area or take a variety of POLS classes from each of the fields. The current POLS course bulletin lists all the POLS courses in each subfield.

What are the general education requirements for political science majors?

POLS Majors must take:

  • 3 Divisional A courses (Humanities)
  • 2 Divisional B Courses (Social Sciences & History; POLS 001: Introduction to Political Science counts as a Division B course)
  • 0 Divisional C Courses (why? Divisional C is the POLS major)
  • 4 Divisional D Courses divided into Math and Science courses:
    • Students must take 2 MATH classes (e.g., MATH 005 or 006: College Algebra I and MATH 010: College Algebra II or other MATH courses)
    • However, the two MATH classes do NOT have to be sequenced like the above examples. Students can take MATH 006: College Algebra I and MATH 007: Pre-Calculus
      • Exception: If a student comes in with AP Calculus credit or transfers in a Calculus class, which is the “highest” math course for non-MATH majors, students have to take 3 non-math Division D courses instead (e.g., science classes)
    • POLS Majors should consider taking non-lab Division D courses, such as, PHYS 010: General Astronomy I, PHYS 011: General Astronomy II, PHYS 012: The Astronomical Universe, or PSYC 050: Introduction to Psychology
      • Caveat: The non-lab Divisional D courses fill up quickly each semester and can be hard to get into during students’ first and second years (some get in, some don’t).
      • Students can take the non-lab classes at any time.
      • Students do NOT need to take their Division D non-lab classes their first two years.
      • POLS majors should consider taking their Division D non-lab classes when they can, and it is okay to delay taking Division D non-lab classes later in their career at HU.
    • POLS Majors do NOT have to take lab classes (i.e., Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Planetary or Life Sciences).


Follow this link to COAS Divisional Courses.

Is swimming a required class and can I test out of it?

Swimming is a required class to graduate. Temporarily, during covid-19, when campus was shut down, the swimming requirement was replaced with an alternative HHPL class. However, as campus will be opening this fall, the pre-covid rules to graduate and the swimming requirement may revert to the pre-covid rules. As swimming is a class outside of POLS, you need to contact Dr. Deborah Johnson, the interim chair of the Health, Human Performance, and Leisure Studies (HHPL) Department, and ask her about swimming classes being offered this year (

How do I sign up for an independent study (IS) course?

All Political Science Independent Study Classes (POLS IS) are reserved for POLS majors who are juniors or seniors. IS POLS courses require students to develop their own topic and related paper that must be completed in a single semester. It is important to know that an IS course does NOT meet on a regular basis, there is no reading list or traditional syllabus, and it is the student’s responsibility to choose the topics and readings. In other words, being enrolled in an IS POLS course means that you are taking a self-directed course. It is up to you to do the bulk of the work.

For you to successfully complete a POLS Independent Study course, you need to:

  • Figure out what you want to study and why.
  • Find a POLS faculty member that you want to work with the semester prior to taking an IS class.
  • Email that POLS faculty member and ask them if they want to work with you on your proposed project (IS students must be matched with a POLS professor to take and complete an IS course).
  • Once you have secured a POLS faculty advisor, register for the IS course, fill in the attached form, and email it back to the director of undergraduate studies (Dr. Norman Sandridge,
  • POLS IS courses are graded on an A-F scale, like other classes.
  • If you are not ready to do independent research, or enroll in the wrong class, be sure to withdraw/drop this class by the drop/withdraw date.


POLS IS Courses are as follows:

IS POLS 081, 1 credit

IS POLS 082, 2 credits

IS POLS 083, 3-credits


The number of credits for an IS course is directly related to the amount of work a student plans to do. In Spring 2021, these norms were established by the Department:

  • For a 3-credit IS course, it is expected that a student will write a 25-30 page research paper, with a properly formatted bibliography.
  • For a 2-credit IS course, students are expected to write a 12-15 research page paper, with a properly formatted bibliography.
  • For a 1-credit IS course, students can develop an annotated bibliography with 5-6 sources on a singular topic of interest.

Once you have found a faculty member in political science who has agreed to work with you on your independent study course, fill out this form and email it to the director of undergraduate studies (DUS), Dr. Norman Sandridge (

To graduate, do I have to take the POLS Comprehensive Exam?

Yes, in order to graduate, you must take the POLS comprehensive exam. The Undergraduate Comprehensive Exam is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters. The test date is set by COAS. POLS provides a study session prior to the comprehensive exam.

Who guides me in selecting my major and minor courses and helping me make sure that I graduate on time?

Advising is a shared responsibility at Howard. Students have two advisors: one in the University Office of Undergraduate Studies/Center for Academic Excellence (OUS/CAE) and one in the department in which their major rests.  The departmental advisors are known as “faculty advisors.” This means that someone in the Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS) as well as the POLS Department helps you choose courses that fit your major and graduation requirements. You can make an appointment with an OUS advisor by visiting to schedule a same day virtual drop-in advising session (though, as HU transitions from an online environment back to face-to-face expect some delays).

Transfer students are encouraged to meet with their OUS/CAE advisors first to ensure that your credits from other institutions have transferred over and to ensure that any placement tests or other general requirements are fulfilled. You can also check the status of your transfer credits by signing into Bison Web and finding your HU Transcript (transfer credits will be listed first).

To meet degree requirements, students are advised by professional staff and Political Science (POLS) faculty. The Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) is housed within the Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS). CAE Staff and OUS are committed to improving retention and graduation rates of COAS majors and minors. The CAE staff does the bulk of advising for general education and university requirements, helps students address issues with their Degree Works, deals with students who need to petition to have a class count towards their general education requirements (e.g., if a transfer credit is not counted as a Divisional course, but should be and needs to be changed in Degree Works), and CAE Staff addresses students’ needs to get into certain classes that are full if they need that class in order to graduate.



Advising Team

(as of August 17, 2021)

Adviser Name E-mail Address Advising Group

Mr. Byron Jackson
Senior Academic Advisor, Academic Recovery Program All Political Science Majors

Ms. Shaunda Young
Senior Academic Advisor, Graduation Clearance Seniors Only (Graduation Pre-Clearance) 

Mr. Lincoln Brown
Assistant Director of Advising, CAE  
Ms. Jameela Anderson  Director, CAE  




For Political Science (POLS) Minors

What are the requirements for a minor in political science?

POLS MINOR for COAS Majors: 1 required course AND 4 POLS electives for a total of 15 POLS credits.


  • Intro to Political Science


Choose ANY FOUR POLS courses

NOTE: For POLS Minors:

  • Maximum 3 POLS Internship Credits
  • Maximum 3 Independent Study Credits


POLS MINOR for SOC Majors: 1 required course AND 5 POLS electives for a total of 18 POLS credits.


  • Intro to Political Science


Choose ANY FIVE POLS courses

NOTE: For POLS Minors:

  • Maximum 3 POLS Internship Credits
  • Maximum 3 Independent Study Credits

How and when do I pick a minor?

Students are encouraged to pick a minor--or a second major--in their sophomore year. Every Political Science (POLS) major must choose a minor, and that minor can be in COAS, SOC, SOEd or SOB. Read up on the different COAS minors and the classes they offer here:

POLS majors that choose a minor in SOC, SOEd or SOB must go to that schools’ respective website, find the information they need about declaring a minor outside of COAS, and contact the advisor in that Department for information about the minor.

Once a student chooses their minor(s) or a second major, they need to make it official by filling in the appropriate paperwork online. When a student makes a decision about their minor(s) or second major, they need to follow the instructions below to make their decision official:

  • To change your major and/or minor, go to the Registrar's website and fill in the form online:
  • Scroll down to the "Change of Major, Minor or Concentration" click on the link.
  • Fill out the form.
  • Write in your new major/minor. List the name of the person in your new Department (e.g., the Chair of the Department or Undergraduate Director for your new major/minor). If you are choosing POLS as a major or minor, write in the name and email of the POLS DUS
  • Once you submit this change of major/minor form, the form will be routed to the designated signee, who will sign and submit it, and then once it is processed, your Degree Works will be updated with your new major/minor.

Can I double major?

Yes, Political Science (POLS) majors can double major. If you choose to double major, you do NOT need to choose a minor (your second major counts towards your required minor). When you double major in COAS, only the first major is listed on your diploma.

For Those Interested in Related Programs

How do I become an Honors Student?

To learn more about the Honors Program at Howard, please visit this site.  At Howard University, there are different types of Honors designations, including:

  1. COAS Dean’s Honor Roll: This is determined by the College and is based on GPA and taking a minimum of 14 credits each semester.
  2. HU Honors Distinction (at Graduation): HU Honors Distinction will appear on a student’s transcript, diploma, and will be noted in the commencement program:
  • Cum Laude: 3.20-3.49
  • Magna Cum Laude: 3.50-3.79
  • Summa Cum Laude: 3.80-4.00
  1. COAS Honors Program: Students must be invited to apply to become a COAS Honors Program student.
    • The COAS Honors Program sends out email invitations to incoming Freshmen and rising Sophomores who meet the Honors Program requirements. Invitations are sent out during the summer.

If a student receives an invitation, they are asked to fill out an application. Applications from POLS majors are reviewed and only a small percentage (under 10%) of applicants are accepted into the COAS Honors Program as POLS majors.

After starting at HU, can I apply for the BA (POLS)/ JD program?

No, students cannot apply to the BA (POLS)/JD program after they have started at HU. The highly competitive program only invites incoming freshmen, who have been accepted to attend HU, have paid their deposit to start in the Fall, and meet the BA/JD requirements, are invited to apply to the BA/JD Program.

What is the pre-law program at Howard?

The pre-law program at Howard is a set of courses that students are encouraged to take in preparation for attending law school. The pre-law program is not a minor, a major, or a concentration – it does not show up on your transcript or Degree Works. The pre-law program is not an official credential. Instead, the pre-law courses are an interdisciplinary program and courses are taught by multiple departments, such as Political Science, English, Philosophy, and History. Below is a list of most, but not all, of the pre-law courses offered at Howard University. Pre-law courses are the type of courses that will help you develop your analytical and critical reading skills, writing ability, and oral expression.

Below is a list of courses; most of these classes are upper division and demanding courses, so you should take them in your junior and senior years. You likely won't take every course listed below so your goal should be to take many of the classes that fit your schedule and your major or minor.

  • CLAS 112: Law & Politics in the Ancient World
  • SOCI 001: Public Health and Society
  • SOCI 003: Social Problem
  • SOCI 071: Juvenile Delinquency
  • SOCI 072: Juvenile Justice System
  • SOCI-100 Social Theory and Society
  • SOCI 170: Principles of Criminal Justice
  • SOCI 172: Social Change and the Criminal Justice System
  • SOCI 173: Deviance and the Community
  • SOCI 174: Police Law & Society
  • SOCI 175: Sociology of Law
  • SOCI 176: Victimology
  • SOCI 295: Restorative Justice
  • ECON 174: Labor Law & Social Legislation

Please note, most of the pre-law courses have a prerequisite course. A prerequisite is a course that students must take prior to registering for an advanced or upper division course; many upper division courses have a prerequisite. Prerequisite requirements must be met before a student can enroll in an upper division course. It is your responsibility to take the prerequisite course prior to registering for an upper division pre-law course.

Who do I contact if I want to do study abroad?

Many POLS students study abroad for a semester. Please contact the Ralph Bunche Center to help you decide the best program for you and your interests.


For Those Needing Help with Registration

How do I register for my courses? Who chooses my courses for me?

Click on this link to access information about registration:  Office of the Registrar | Howard University

The Academic Advisors in the Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS) register all first-year incoming students in their first semester, regardless of the number of credit hours they are transferring into Howard. There are NO exceptions to this rule as this is a University wide process and all first-year students are treated the same.

After the first semester students select their courses on their own, with the advice of OUS and their POLS advisor. Registration for Spring semester takes place in Oct/Nov of the Fall semester. Registration for Fall semester takes place in March/April of the Spring semester.

Why am I getting an error message when I try to register for a POLS class (or any class)?

If you go to register for a class, and you receive an error message, there are many reasons why an error message may occur. The common reasons you get an error message when trying to register for a class are 1. You do not meet the requirements for the class (e.g., there are restrictions placed on who can take the class based on the level – junior, senior or graduate level – it is restricted only to majors – the class has a prerequisite and you have not taken the pre-requisite class and 2. The class you want to take has a time conflict with another class that you have already registered for. In these instances, you will have to choose to take another class.

Other reasons why you may get an error message may be because the course is filled to capacity and there is no waitlist or the course has been cancelled. You might have a HOLD on your account (see below for more information on holds). Or, an error message may appear because some classes require students to get an instructor’s signature prior to registration (if an error message appears, you will need to make another course selection).

How do I keep track of my progress to ensure that I will graduate on time?

In a word, Degree Works. Degree Works is a webbased course audit tool for you to monitor your academic progress towards degree completion and graduation, and also is used to identify courses you need to take towards fulfilling their degree, major and minor course requirements, and other requirements. Degree Works should be used for course planning & registration guidance.

Degree Works provides a listing of all requirements, including African American Cluster courses and Divisional courses that apply to your degree program (i.e., major and minor, as well as university and general education requirements). Degree Works lists all the credit and course requirements for a students’ degree program. Degree Works indicates what courses you must complete in order to graduate.

Degree Works is laid out in a block format that displays your requirements related to their official major and minor requirements. You must identify the “unchecked boxes” (where there is not a green check) to determine the courses you still need to complete.

Degree Works should be used in conjunction with the POLS Scheme, which outlines all of the degree requirements and provides a one-page snapshot of the courses you have taken and need to take.

Degree Works is where you will find most of the needed information for registration and course management. Degree Works also provides a list of courses you need to take for your declared major and minor. If you have not officially declared a major or a minor, then Degree Works will not provide much direction. Please see the above information on how to declare a major and/or minor.

In short, you MUST become familiar with reading your Degree Works.

What do I do if I can’t access Degree Works?

If you are unable to access Degree Works via BisonWeb, it means that you have a hold on your account. Please see above on what to do if you have a hold on your account.

How do I figure out if my prior courses will transfer to Howard?

The transfer credit process at HU is a two-step process. When a student applies for admittance to HU as a new student or a transfer student, took courses at an accredited university or dual enrollment program, and wants to transfer those credits to HU, a preliminary evaluation of those courses is done by the Office of the Registrar. During this review, the Registrar's Office determines which courses you have taken AND are eligible to be transferred to HU.

Please note, only general education courses are evaluated as part of the preliminary evaluation of your transcript, and only courses with a grade of “C” or above are eligible for transfer credit. This review process matches similarly named courses (e.g., Intro to American History, from 1860 is matched to a course at Howard called, American History from 1860). If, after the first review, transfer courses are not accepted, it is usually due to the names or content of the transfer courts not lining up exactly with HU courses. Therefore, students must submit a Transfer Credit Form with the assistance of a faculty advisor. The courses you want to transfer were not accepted because the names did not match or did not come near to any classes offered at HU; it was not because of the rushed nature of your application.

To make sure that your Political Science (POLS) and other courses are transferred, follow the instructions below:

  1. Check your HU transcript to see if your credits have been transferred in from the other universities by logging into your Bison Web account and looking at your unofficial HU transcript. Your transcript will list all of the transfer credits that HU has approved. If some transfer credits are NOT listed there, it is because the course names may not match courses offered at HU. When that happens, you have to start the transfer process.
  2. Refer to this transfer form. You will submit this form online, but having a copy helps you know what information you need for the online application. On the transfer credit form, list all of the courses from the other university AND list the HU course equivalent (be sure to include DEPT ## and Title, e.g. HIST 005: Intro to Black Diaspora I).
  1. If there are NON-political science classes that have not been transferred, or you don't know the HU equivalent course, contact the DUS, who can help you find the appropriate HU courses to list on the transfer form.
  1. Go to this website and scroll down and click on the "transfer credit petition" link. You will need to include the attached completed transfer credit form, your transcript from the previous university, and a copy of ALL syllabi for the courses you want to get transfer credit.
  2. As a POLS major, you can list the name of the director of undergraduate studies (DUS), currently Dr. Norman Sandridge and his email address ( - as your academic advisor or whenever you are asked for an advisor.

Who reviews and approves my International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP) credits?

Individual departments at Howard University do not review or approve International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement transfer credits. Howard University uses a standard system that is applied to all incoming first year students to determine transfer credit. Here is a chart that is used to determine what scores are required for transfer credit. 

What do I do if a class is full and I need it to graduate?

The Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) Staff in the Office of Undergraduate Studies can address students’ needs to get into certain classes that are full if they need that class in order to graduate. The POLS Department cannot add you to full classes.