About Us


The Faculty

The Department of Political Science was founded in 1974 and currently has 40 faculty members, 11 adjunct faculty, and numerous affiliated faculty who represent a broad spectrum of backgrounds, methodologies, and approaches. Ours is a young department and yet it has skyrocketed to prominence among political science departments in the United States. The most recent National Academy of Sciences study ranks us among the top graduate programs in political science in the country.

When asked to identify the most important qualities of our program, we come up with a list of characteristics that make UCSD's department an unusually congenial place to be, for faculty and students alike. Members of our department are bound together by our commitment to theoretically informed research; our individual projects may be empirical case studies, philosophical investigations, or formal theory, but they all contribute to the major theoretical developments in the discipline. In addition, we value the collegial community of scholarship in which intellectual differences are not battle lines, but points of fruitful exchange, the informal environment in which faculty and graduate students can easily involve themselves in each other's research, and in which opportunities for independent work are made available to undergraduates; and the devotion to excellence in teaching.


Graduate Program

Consistent with our NAS rating, the most recent US News and World Report survey ranks our graduate program as 8th in the nation. Another study completed at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, ranks us as 6th in the world. The department also ranked 1st in the nation in overall graduate student satisfaction in the most recent NAGPS National Doctoral Program Survey. Another recent survey, published in Foreign Policy, ranks our department in the top 10 International Relations schools for both academic and policy careers.

We believe these impressive rankings are a reflection of our commitment to building a program in which our students benefit from and contribute to the intellectual vitality of the department not only in their dissertation research, but also through their work with faculty on collaborative research projects. Our faculty and students produce cutting-edge research that impacts scholars, decision-makers, and citizens around the globe. In addition, they have worked with numerous governmental and non-governmental institutions and groups and have led or assisted in the design and implementation of many policies and projects that promote human rights, racial and gender equality, fair elections, effective aid programs, and so on.

Our doctoral program encompasses five broad sub-fields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, methodology, and political theory. The department and the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies also offer a joint Ph.D. which builds on the considerable strengths that each unit currently possesses and offers a distinct focus. The department enrolls approximately 15-20 new graduate students each fall.

Graduate placements include appointments at leading government agencies and research institutions and assistant professorships at University of Michigan, New York University, Columbia University, Yale University, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, Duke University, Harvard University, Notre Dame, UCLA, University of Minnesota, SUNY, and other prestigious universities.


Undergraduate Program

Political Science is the fourth largest concentration on campus and offers a general political science major along with six areas of concentration - American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, public law, and public policy - and one minor. We educate thousands of students each year about the political world thereby enhancing their skills as citizens and future leaders while also preparing them for premier graduate and professional programs as well as successful careers in government and community service, law, teaching, research, and a wide range of other professions.

The heart of the UCSD campus belongs to its six undergraduate colleges Eleanor Roosevelt, Earl Warren, Thurgood Marshall, John Muir, Revelle and our newest college, Sixth. Our college system combines the friendly intimacy of a small campus with the academic advantages of a major research university. Each of these colleges has a unique educational philosophy and different graduation requirements. Each faculty member is formally affiliated with one of these colleges. Departmental courses are open to students of all colleges and we have a single set of major requirements.


Departmental Activities and Affiliated Programs

There are currently a number of active speaker series and ongoing research projects in the department including the American Politics and Institutions Project, Center for the Study of African Political Economy, Political Theory Colloquium, Comparative Politics Speaker Series, Political Economy Lunch Group, and Project on International Affairs. The political science community at UCSD spans the campus through its connections with number of important research centers and academic departments, including Center for Global Justice, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (CalIT2), Center for California Cultures in Comparative PerspectiveCenter for US-Mexican Studies, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, Cognitive Science, Economics, School of Global Policy (GPS), International Studies Program (ISP), Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies (CILAS), Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC), and the Urban Studies and Planning Program.


Campus and Locale

UC San Diego is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through excellence in education and research at the undergraduate, graduate, professional school and postdoctoral levels. The campus is committed to community engagement, public service and industry partnerships in order to advance the health and well-being of our region, state, nation and the world. UCSD is an academic powerhouse and economic engine, recognized as one of the top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report, ranked number one in the nation for public service by the Washington Monthly, ranked among the nation’s top best value public colleges for 2012 by The Princeton Review, and has earned national recognition for its ambitious sustainability "green" initiatives. UCSD also recently ranked 5th in the nation for annual federal research and development spending. We excel in both traditional scholarly disciplines and fields that cross these disciplines, such as neuroscience, nanoscience, and climate science. UCSD faculty and researchers consistently earn international acclaim and include Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners, members of the National Academies, and recipients of MacArthur Foundation "genius grants." UCSD is ideally located near the Pacific Ocean, the U.S.-Mexico border and the Pacific Rim. Our diverse student population is drawn from the best and brightest world-wide. Occupying a beautiful 1,300 acre wooded site on the La Jolla bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the climate is perhaps the most mild in the United States, year-round (in July the mean high temperature is 77 and in January it is 65). Learn more by reviewing our Campus Profile.