Math/Political Science Major

Emory College offers an exciting joint political science and mathematics major. This major is very rare among U.S. colleges, and it is designed to help undergraduates stand out in a truly unique way, thereby enhancing future prospects for graduate school and employment. The joint major combines many of the strongest elements of both mathematics and political science into one course of study.

The goal of the major is to offer undergraduates an opportunity to learn the same cutting edge methodologies that are used by many Emory faculty in their own research. As a result, this major is excellent preparation for a great variety of careers. For example, one of the goals of the joint major in political science and mathematics is to produce an elite group of undergraduates who will enter the most prestigious social science graduate programs, with the ultimate goal of becoming university professors. The professorial job opportunities for methodologically well-trained graduate students is currently excellent, and everything on the horizon suggests that this need will only increase in the future. Similar prospects apply to many other careers as well.

Thus, as you contemplate what courses you might wish to study at Emory, consider the joint political science and mathematics major. It is a major that helps you distinguish yourself in unique and valuable ways.

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To declare a major, students must complete the online declaration form found under the students form tab in OPUS, and come to the department office located in Tarbutton Hall, Room 327.


Students completing the Math/Political Science joint major must complete a total of 14 courses, seven courses from political science departmental offerings and seven courses from the math department, both of which are described in detail below. These courses must include the following:

(1) When students declare a joint major in political science and math, they will be assigned an advisor in political science for consultation regarding political science coursework.

(2) They will be required to take the following courses in political science: 

a. POLS 100: National Politics in the United States

b. Either POLS 110 (Introduction to International Relations) or POLS 120 (Introduction to Comparative Politics)

c.  POLS 208: Political Science Methods* 

d. POLS 310: Statistical Modeling

e. Three electives in political science at the 300 level or above. These electives must be chosen from only one of the following areas: American politics, international relations or comparative politics. These courses must have content (such as readings or paper assignments) which employ the methods learned in 208 and 310. A student must have his or her choice of 300 level courses approved by the joint political science and math faculty advisor. One of the electives must be an approved research seminar in political science. This type of course should be a capstone seminar in which a student would be able to fully utilize his or her training in mathematically-based research methods to work within a substantive area and/or on a substantive project. A student must have his or her choice approved by the joint political science and math faculty adviser.

*POLS 310 must be completed prior to enrolling in POLS 208. 

(3) Mathematics Courses (all joint majors must also have a math advisor):

a. MATH 111 and 112: Calculus I and II (or prior AP credit)

b. MATH 211: Multivariable Calculus

c. MATH 212: Differential Equations or MATH 250: Foundations of Mathematics

d. MATH 221: Linear Algebra

e. MATH 361 and MATH 362: Probability and Statistics


Requirements Prior to Fall 2016

Requirements checklist effective April 2008-Spring 2016

POLS Courses by Area

If you have any questions or concerns about major requirements, please contact Rosy Gomez. 

Honors Program Eligibility

A student who is a joint major in math and political science may participate in the political science honors program alongside political science and international studies majors, or in the math honors program. The political science honors program requires taking a graduate or senior seminar of the student's choice. That graduate or senior seminar can satisfy requirement "e" above, contingent on the approval of the political science adviser. Honors students also take an Honors Tutorial (POLS 495) in the fall of the senior year, as well as POLS 499 Honors Research in the spring of the senior year. These last two courses will satisfy only one of the three required courses in section "d" above (under political science courses). That is, students who complete the honors program will still need to take at least two 300 level or above courses as described in section "d." In accordance with college guidelines, a joint major wishing to pursue honors in political science must receive approval of the math department for entry into the political science honors program, and the math department must also agree on the level of honors ultimately awarded. Also per college guidelines, a joint major pursuing honors in political science must have a faculty member of the math department on the honors committee, in addition to a political science faculty member and an outside member.

For additional information about the Math/Political Science Major contact Courtney Brown in the Political Science Department or Ken Mandelberg in the Math Department.

Note on the Research Course Requirement

Starting in the Fall of 2016, the Political Science department implemented a new requirement that MATH/POLS students complete a research paper as part of their Political Science major.  Classes that contain a paper that meets the research requirement are numbers with either a POLS394 or POLS494 designation or contain "RCH:" in the course title. 
The courses that are designated as research classes are NOT focused exclusively on research.  In most cases the course is quite similar to other Political Science classes, except that it contains a major research paper.  Often courses that are now designated as research classes are organized in the exact same manner as they were before the requirement and designation was implemented. 
The type of paper assignment in a research class could take one of many forms.  It could be  a traditional library research paper, an original research paper involving some form of data collection and analysis (perhaps statistical but not exclusively so), a thought paper, or some form of a policy analysis paper.  Often times the student has the option of choosing among different types of research papers. 
We encourage students to contact the professor to determine the parameters of the major paper in the research class.