Undergraduate Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I go to see if I can get major credit for Politics courses in a Study Abroad Program?

First, go to the Study Abroad Office in Minor Hall and visit with a Study Abroad Advisor. Next, once you have completed the process inside the Study Abroad Office (and well before you actually go abroad), bring the major credit approval form to the DUP with as much information about your courses as you can gather: course description; syllabus; name and qualifications of the faculty member; number of weeks and hours the course meets . We will look over the classes you propose to take and let you know which specific classes will count toward the 30 hours of PL classes required for the major, giving these classes a “TM” designation (as in PLCP 3000-TM). You will then need to bring the form to Abigail Holeman  in Monroe Hall to have her sign off on both the form and any elective credits in departments other than those for which you need major credit. These elective credits will be designated with a “TR” (as in HIEA 3000-TR).

I’m enrolled in a class that is cross-listed with Politics and another department. I’m enrolled under the other Department’s mnemonic. How will this course apply to my major or minor?

PL** courses that are cross-listed count towards our majors and our minor as PL** courses, even when you are enrolled under the cross-listed mnemonic (e.g. EVSC, MDST, PPOL). To make the course count for your major or minor, please see the Undergraduate Program Administrator (Ms. Sharon Marsh, Gibson room S183) and she will see to it that SIS recognizes the course as a Politics course. Because cross-listed courses are Politics courses, we do not also count them as related courses. SIS will NOT count credits earned under cross-listed mnemonic towards the related course requirement.

How many courses do I need to complete to declare a major in Government or Foreign Affairs?

You must complete at least two courses with no grade below C.  Your average grades for all Politics courses you complete before declaring must be 2.5.

Where are the forms to fill out for a major?

The forms are available in S183 Gibson Hall. Electronic copies of most departmental forms are also available on our Forms page.

Can I count an Advanced Placement (AP) class toward the 30 hours of PL coursework required for the major or for related class credit?


Can I count a dual enrollment course I took while in high school toward major requirements?


Can I count a class for which I received UVA Transfer Credit toward the 30 hours of PL coursework required for the major?

Yes. You can count up to six hours of PL transfer credit toward the “elective” PL credits, with approval of your major advisor. If you are a transfer student, you can count these hours toward the “distribution” PL credits instead, if you prefer. If you spend a full year studying abroad, you can count up to nine hours of PL transfer credit. If you study abroad for any length of time, you may count these transfer credits toward any of the specific major requirements (such as the Foreign Affairs “area” requirement), as long as your major advisor approves. To get SIS to record approval of your transfer classes, please have your major advisor email the DUP  the name of your prior institution, the number and title of the course you took there, and the course number the advisor considers to be equivalent at UVA (if any).

Can I count a class for which I received UVA Transfer Credit toward the 12 hours of related coursework required for the major?

Yes. You can count up to six hours of related transfer credit from domestic or foreign institutions, as long as the specific classes have been approved by your major advisor.

Can I count transfer credit from a Study Abroad program for the Minor in Politics?

No. The Minor in Politics requires 15 credits earned with grades of C in courses taken in residence at UVa. Some UVa direct credit programs, e.g. Semester at Sea, are considered in-residence, but not all UVa sponsored programs provide direct credit. Check with the Study Abroad office to verify whether the credit you will receive is direct or transfer credit.

Can I count a UVA Direct Credit Study Abroad class toward the 30 hours of PL and 12 hours of related classes required for the major?

Yes. UVA Direct Credit Study Abroad classes are treated like UVA classes taught on grounds. Students can therefore count as many courses as they wish toward the 30 hours of PL classes required for the major and the 12 hours of related classes, as long as the related classes are approved by your major advisor.

Can I create an independent study course in Politics?

We discourage independent studies by undergraduate students in the Politics Department. It almost always better for undergraduate students to find a seminar that meets their interests and enroll in that. We allow very rare exceptions. These are instances when a Politics Department faculty member and an undergraduate student decide together to pursue a particular topic outside of the confines of an established course.

If a faculty member has suggested an independent study to you, then you should consult with her or him about preparing a syllabus for the independent study. You and the instructor will need to create a schedule of weekly meetings outside of faculty office hours and a complete list of readings and assignments you will complete during the term of the independent study. Your readings and assignments should be at least the amount you see in a typical 4000 or 5000 level seminar, meaning at least 150-200 pages of reading a week and writing assignments adding up to at least 2,500 words. Then you will submit your plans to the DUP, who will approve or disapprove your independent study.

Can I double-count a class toward the major and toward another UVA graduation requirement?

Yes. You can count classes that are counting toward your UVA distribution requirement (e.g. “social science”, “humanities”) toward the 30 hours of PL credit required for the major and toward the 12 hours of related credit.

Can I double-count a class toward multiple majors or a major and a minor?

College rules prohibit double-counting a single course toward two majors or a major and a minor, but we allow students to double-count up to four related courses (e.g. course in history that counts toward a history major).

Can I double-major or minor in Government and Foreign Affairs?

No. You must choose just one of our majors. You can of course take more than the 30 hours required.

Can I receive credit for an internship?

Yes, but you cannot receive PL credit toward the 30 hours required for the major. Four credits of SOC credit are available through the University Internship Program (UIP) for internships that are vetted and approved by Ms. Karen Farber (kaf5f@virginia.edu), under an arrangement that requires students to attend orientation meetings, a seminar, and write papers. These credits can count toward your related course requirement for the major.

For my Foreign Affairs major’s geographical area requirement, am I limited to classes that are listed under each region in the SIS?

No. We often offer PLCP and PLIR 4000-level seminars with significant area content that are not on the official SIS list but will count toward an area requirement as long as your major advisor approves.

The courses that SIS should pick up automatically is available here.

What do I do when I want to declare a major or minor in Government or Foreign Affairs?

See our How to Declare page.

My advisor is gone for the semester/year. How do I get a new one?

You have been assigned a new advisor. If your advisor is gone for only one semester, see someone else temporarily.

What counts as a related course for my major?

Both of our majors require that you take twelve credits of courses in closely related disciplines other than Politics. SIS will automatically pick up courses with the following mnemonics: AAS, AMST, ANTH, EAST, ECON, ETP, HI** (HIAF, HIEA, HIEU, HILA, HIME, HISA, HIST, HIUS), MDST, MEST, PHIL, PSYC, REL* (RELA, RELB, RELC, RELG, RELH, RELI, RELJ, RELS), SOC, SWAG.

In extraordinary circumstances, your major advisor will consider other courses for approval.

How can I change the courses that SIS counts toward the Related Courses requirement?

SIS automatically picks up Related Courses based on the mnemonic (see the FAQ, What counts as a related course for my major? for a list), and there is no way to tell SIS not to count one of those courses.  You may petition your major advisor to approve courses that are not automatically picked up by SIS.

SIS says my Foreign Affairs Area is Asia, but I want to do Africa. How can I change it?

SIS automatically picks up the first of your courses it sees that fulfill any area requirement. For example, if you have taken a course that covers Asia, it may list Asia as your Area. However, if you later take two courses in a different area, SIS will automatically notice this and switch your Area.  If you have taken two courses in each of two or more areas, SIS will pick one of the areas; this choice cannot be over-ridden.  However, your area of concentration does not print on your transcript, so you may legitimately claim specialization in any area that you’ve taken two qualifying courses.

Can I change the courses that SIS includes in its calculation of my major GPA?

SIS’s algorithm for identifying major courses cannot be changed. However, your major GPA does not print on your transcript, so consistent with the honor code you may calculate your major GPA using whichever courses you have taken that meet the major requirements.  (See these pages for the Government and Foreign Affairs requirements, and consult with your advisor if you have any questions or concerns about which courses count toward which requirements.)

May I stop by to see my advisor or the DUP at any time during the day Monday through Friday?

Most faculty members have regular office hours and prefer that you visit them during those hours if possible. Please note that these are subject to change each semester.

Where can I find the official academic requirements for the University?

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.