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Programs / Arts / Political Science

Program Details

Where better to study politics than the nation’s capital? Our location in Ottawa provides you with numerous chances to see politics not only nationally but internationally. You will examine such topics of study as international relations, transitions to democracy, parties and elections, globalization and social movements, and the culture and ideas of politics. You can focus on one of seven areas of study: Canadian Politics; Comparative Politics and Area Studies (Global North) or Comparative Politics and Area Studies (Global South); Gender and Politics; International Relations; North American Politics; Political Theory; and Public Affairs and Policy Analysis.

International exchanges are an exciting possibility during your third year. In fourth year, a Canadian/British Parliamentary internship or an internship with the Washington Center are options for consideration.

Carleton’s Political Science Department is one of the largest and most respected in the country. It includes specialists on all aspects of politics, and all world regions. You will be taught by professors who regularly provide expertise to governments, businesses and the media, and are renowned in their field for outstanding research and influential writing. Because of the number of professors working in the department, course offerings are more diverse and class sizes are smaller than at most other universities.

Carleton’s location in Canada’s capital city places you in the heart of the country’s political process, providing unparalleled resources both in personnel and research materials.

Our Political Science program is enriched not only by our location but also because the university has strong links with federal government departments, major political parties, the national press corps, foreign embassies and a multitude of non-profit organizations headquartered in Ottawa.

You will also have the opportunity to see government and politics in action as Carleton is only seven kilometres away from Parliament Hill.

Bachelor of Arts (General)

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Carleton University offers two undergraduate programs in Political Science in addition to its prestigious master’s and doctoral programs.

If you choose the three-year Bachelor of Arts (General program), you will be required to complete an introductory course and a history of political thought or a research methods course, as well as 4.0 additional credits in Political Science.

For the four-year Bachelor of Arts (Honours) program, nine Political Science credits are required out of 20.0 credits, including an introductory course, one credit in political thought, one in political methodology, one credit in Canadian government and politics, one credit in comparative politics and international relations, two credits in fourth-year seminars and two credits in political science electives.

An Honours Research Essay is optional for qualified fourth-year students. All Honours students are required to have a reading knowledge of another language.

Combined programs

You may wish to combine the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) program in Political Science with another discipline, such as Economics, Human Rights or Sociology, resulting in a combined Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree. It is also possible to combine your program with a minor in another discipline.

For students interested in combining Political Science with studies in Journalism, you should apply to the Bachelor of Journalism (Combined Honours) program and choose Political Science as your second discipline.


Within Carleton’s program in Political Science, you can pursue one of eight concentrations:

  • Canadian Politics
  • Comparative Politics and Area Studies (Global North) or (Global South)
  • International Relations
  • Political Theory
  • Public Affairs and Policy Analysis
  • Gender and Politics
  • North American Politics

The concentration in Canadian Politics is taught by top specialists in the field with first-hand knowledge of Canadian politics and government. Professors in the two Comparative Politics and Area Studies concentrations draw material from abundant field research and extensive experience in countless overseas locations. Specialists in Political Theory are well known for both their writings on ancient themes and their biting commentaries on contemporary issues. Our International Relations specialists are recognized for their research and writing on peace and conflict issues and international political economy. In Public Affairs and Policy Analysis, our faculty provide students with unequalled expertise and knowledge of bureaucracy, public policy formation, public affairs and polling. The concentration in Gender and Politics provides students with the intellectual and practical tools to analyze the many ways in which gender relations affect domestic and international politics. The concentration in North American Politics allows students to explore the importance of North America as a political, economic and social community.

Co-op opportunities

Students in Political Science eligible to work in Canada can apply for admission to the co-op program. The requirement for the co-op notation on your transcript is the satisfactory completion of three work terms. Each term is four months in duration. Co-op work terms provide you with an opportunity to integrate the theoretical and practical aspects of your studies, and to work in government, not-for-profit, private or voluntary-sector organizations.

Exchange and internship programs

Fourth-year Political Science students have exciting opportunities in the Washington Center Internship program and the Internship Placement in Political Science. The Washington Center Internship will provide students with the opportunity to spend one term in Washington, D.C., serving as an intern and taking courses offered by the faculty of the Washington Center. The Internship Placement in Political Science provides students with an opportunity to work with an organization whose focus is on some aspect of politics, and write a research paper under the supervision of a faculty member.

First-year BA students are strongly encouraged to include a First-year Seminar (FYSM) in their first-year course load. Our First-Year Seminars give students the chance to discuss and debate topics in a small class consisting of a professor and around 30 students.

Although some FYSMs count as courses leading to a major, you do not have to choose a FYSM in your major discipline. Students are limited to one FYSM.

A sample first year

  • 1.0 credit in Political Science at the 1000-level
  • 1.0 credit in a First-year Seminar
  • 3.0 credits in electives

The workplace

A Political Science degree from Carleton is a proven road to career achievement in government, parliament, parties and interest groups, the research and voluntary sectors, business and teaching. Our graduates can also be found working as consultants, lobbyists, pollsters, journalists and market researchers.

Graduate studies

Graduates of our program are well qualified to go on to graduate studies in political science. Some also choose related disciplines such as international affairs, public administration, Canadian studies, political economy and women’s studies.

Professional programs

Many professional programs, including law, teaching and journalism, are interested in attracting well-rounded applicants from a variety of backgrounds. Political science provides a strong foundation for such programs, and you are encouraged to pursue interests you may have in these fields after completing your undergraduate degree.

What students are saying about Political Science

Being able to live and learn in the Canadian political hub of Ottawa was a great experience. Not only was I able to learn in the classroom from some of the best professors in the country, but I was able to gain practical experience working in the political field, through a number of different opportunities available on Parliament Hill. Carleton also helped ensure that completion of my degree became a reality, through its generous scholarship and bursary program. Carleton was everything I hoped it would be, and more.
Dustin Hutton-Alcorn, Political Science and Human Rights student