“What better way to examine the multiple ways that political problems and questions cross borders than by living and studying abroad? Politics majors – open yourself to intellectually and culturally challenging experiences, explore how politics is lived and experienced in different places, and learn how to ask and navigate some of the most difficult political questions that emerge from cross-cultural encounters - in other words, study abroad!” Shampa Biswas, Professor of Politics, Politics Department

Off-Campus Studies can help Politics students …

  • Learn about the salience and expressions of politics in other countries and regions, such as different political institutions and movements; the most pressing political issues, problems and concerns in other contexts; how people think and talk about politics, etc.
  • Improve foreign language skills
  • Develop a global perspective
  • Gain primary research skills from field studies or work with primary sources
  • Expand cross-cultural communication and problem-solving skills

How does a semester or year of OCS help students in Politics prepare for graduate school or various career opportunities?

  • For students seeking graduate degrees in Political Science, Public Policy and Law (these are the areas most commonly chosen by our majors), a study abroad experience helps students understand the conduct and study of politics from a comparative and global perspective.
  • Living and studying overseas, especially in relatively challenging physical and cultural contexts, help students develop essential skills for cultural negotiation and critical thinking that are increasingly necessary in most careers, whether pursued in the U.S. or abroad.
  • Study abroad experiences help students gain and enhance foreign language acquisition, which makes graduate student applications and job applications stronger.
  • OCS programs that include collaborative work with community partners exposes students to future career possibilities, organizations and networks.

As a general rule of thumb, the Politics Department recommends the following for students who wish to study off campus.

  • Prior to studying off campus, students should take at least one 300-400 level Politics course. We recommend that students meet with their Politics major adviser when planning for off-campus studies and keep in mind when courses are offered here at Whitman.
  • Politics majors do not usually base their senior thesis on research undertaken during study abroad; however, the off-campus studies experience often informs and inspires the senior thesis. Consult with your major advisor prior to studying off campus about research abroad and senior thesis.

Which requirements can Politics majors fulfill while off campus?

  • Elective major credit at the 100 or 200-level. (The 300-400 level politics courses required for the major must be taken at Whitman.)
  • General Studies distribution credit
  • General degree credit

Major Credit Limitations

  • The maximum number of credits that can be applied to the Politics major from off campus studies (including AP credit, IB credit and credits from other U.S. institutions) is 8 credits with the approval of your major adviser.  These 8 credits can only be for courses at the 100-200 level.
  • Business courses typically cannot be transferred to Whitman because they are vocational in nature and not considered liberal arts.

Minor Credit Limitations

  • For the minor, only four credits at 100-200 level can be transferred from outside of the department.

What are the types of OCS programs recommended by the Politics department?

  • Programs that offer an opportunity for independent study research
  • Field study programs with opportunities to engage in research with the local community
  • Programs that offer an opportunity for an internship or service learning embedded in an academic course as part of the program
  • Programs that offer an opportunity to increase proficiency in foreign language skills or learn a new language in the context of an academic experience.
  • Direct enrollment in a foreign university with local students

Students interested in Off-Campus Studies should attend an OCS First Step meeting in the fall of their second year, discuss their interests with their major adviser, and schedule an appointment with an OCS adviser.