Political Science Transfer Credits

This policy governs the use of off-campus course credit(s) for satisfaction of the major and minor requirements of the political science department.

Last Updated: Fall 2022

This policy applies to courses taken as part of a study-abroad program and also courses completed at American colleges and universities. Generally, concentration credit for courses taken off campus are awarded on the basis of criteria and guidelines spelled out in this policy, and as applied by the department’s transfer credit representative, Professor Matt Luttig (mluttig@colgate.edu) Details of the steps to obtain provisional approval of transfer credits for political science (POSC) major or minor concentration credit are listed below; please consult them and then complete the Course Equivalency Form.

Submit Transfer Credit Course Equivalency Form
Please note, this policy does not govern whether transfer credit(s) are accepted by Colgate University for general graduation credit, but governs only whether transfer credit(s) may be used to satisfy requirements for the political science major or minor. For more information on the University’s general transfer credit policy, please visit the registrar’s webpage.

POSC courses, which are presented to the registrar but not approved for POSC concentration credit, may nonetheless be designated as POSC courses by the registrar’s office, even though they will not be counted as satisfaction of concentration major or minor requirements. Thus, their designation as “POSC” courses does not mean they satisfy concentration requirements.

This policy also does not govern which transfer credit(s) may be counted toward the international relations major or minor. The international relations program’s transfer credit representative is Professor Navine Murshid (nmurshid@colgate.edu).

What follows is a brief layout of the political science department transfer credit policy.

Steps to Obtain Provisional Approval of Transfer Credits for POSC Major or Minor Concentration Credit

To begin the process of obtaining approval of transfer credits for POSC concentration credit, you must complete the Transfer Credit Course Equivalency Form and attach the requested items. If you have any questions, please send an email to Professor Matt Luttig (mluttig@colgate.edu).

The first item is a complete electronic copy of the syllabus for the course(s) for which you wish to receive concentration credit. Submit the syllabus as an attachment instead of a link, because links often disappear or change. The syllabus copies you provide will be used to determine whether the course qualifies for concentration credit. If you are unable to obtain a current syllabus for the course, then past syllabi for the same course will suffice until a current syllabus becomes available. If current or past syllabi are inaccessible at the time of your application, then a comparable course description that contains a weekly breakdown of reading, a listing of course requirements, and the grade distribution may be considered in lieu of syllabi. If none of these items are available, then consult with the transfer credit representative to determine whether there is a suitable alternative. Please note, that without some form of documentation that details the focus, substance, and requirements of each course listed on your application, it will be difficult to determine whether the listed course satisfies the department’s transfer credit policy, and specifically the criteria for awarding concentration credit. 

Allot 10–14 days for the department’s review process to be completed, assuming you have submitted all of the necessary documentation. If you have not submitted all of the necessary documentation, then it will take longer. So, be sure not to wait until the last minute to submit your application and accompanying documents. You should understand also that applications are reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis. Consequently, just because a course was previously approved for your roommate or friend does not mean it will be automatically approved for you as well, given that courses and the instructors assigned to them often undergo changes from one semester to the next.

If the department transfer credit representative has approved the course, he or she will notify you and the registrar by email that provisional approval has been granted for the course, and will give it a Colgate course designation. If the course has a near equivalent in the department, it will be designated with the number of that course. If a similar course is not offered in the department, it will be given a generic designation, usually POSC 391.

Types of Department Approval

The following two types of approval are ordinarily obtained through the approval process just described:

If the review of your transfer credit application is done prior to your completion of the course or on the basis of something other than the final complete course syllabus, then only a “provisional approval” will be granted, assuming the course satisfies the criteria outlined below. To actually receive POSC concentration credit, however, a final approval must be granted.

If the review of your application is done following your completion of the course, then a final review will be conducted to determine whether “final approval” is granted provided:

  • the course satisfies the criteria outlined below;
  • you have submitted the final complete course syllabus to the department’s representative;
  • you have submitted the graded writing assignment(s), and;
  • you earned a satisfactory grade (“C” or better) in the course.

In the event that a copy of the graded assignment cannot be produced, electronic proof that it has been graded (an email from the instructor to that effect, a screenshot from an electronic teaching platform, etc.) will suffice. Provisional approval is not necessary in order for you to obtain final approval.

Criteria Used to Determine Whether Transfer Credits May Count as Concentration Credit

The following criteria are used to determine whether an off-campus course is comparable to a course offered in the political science department. There are no hard and fast standards guaranteeing that a course will be approved for POSC concentration credit. But it will help if you bear in mind these criteria as you select your course of study:

For a typical 15-week semester course, a substantial amount of reading must be required each week.

Assignments must be substantial, including a midterm and final and a significant writing assignment or assignments (approximately eight pages or more). The substitution of considerable other work for one of these elements may be considered sufficient, though a course requiring only short assignments (journal entries, diaries, etc.) will not be considered favorably.

In addition to the criteria just outlined, the following restrictions also apply:

Colgate students planning to study off-campus or abroad: The department will accept for
major credit a maximum of two political science courses taken at other institutions. Only one
transfer credit will be accepted toward the minor. These courses must have been approved for
transfer credit by the Colgate registrar and the by the member of the Department of Political
Science designated to evaluate them. In all instances, courses accepted for major or minor
credit must be comparable in quality, quantity of reading and writing, and scope of coverage to
courses offered in the department. Transfer credits will not ordinarily be offered for POSC-100
level courses or POSC 232. 400-level courses will not be accepted under any circumstances.
Students who anticipate applying for major or minor credit for a course or courses to be taken
at another institution should consult with the department’s transfer credit representative
before enrolling elsewhere.

Students transferring to Colgate from other universities: The department will accept for major
credit up to four political science courses at the 100-, 200- or 300-level taken at a student’s
prior academic institution. Up to two courses may be accepted toward the minor. In all
instances, courses accepted for major or minor credit must be comparable in quality, quantity
of reading and writing, and scope of coverage to courses offered in the department. 400-level
courses will not be accepted under any circumstances. Transfer students who anticipate
applying for major or minor credit for a course or courses they have already taken at another
institution should consult with the department’s transfer credit representative before declaring
political science as their major or minor.

The following types of off-campus courses are also not eligible for POSC concentration credit:

  1. Courses of three to five weeks or less than 37 contact hours are unlikely to be approved. 
  2. Transfer credits from the American University Washington Study Program or the University of Pittsburgh’s Semester at Sea will not be approved.
  3. Courses taken at community colleges
  4. Internships
  5. Independent studies

Department Deadlines for Approval of Transfer Credit as Concentration Credit

The political science department does not have a deadline for approval of transfer credit for concentration credit. At any time prior to graduation from Colgate University, you may apply for concentration credit — either before completion of an off-campus course or after completion of the course. Keep in mind, however, that while the POSC department does not have deadlines for approval, you should allow 10–14 days for processing of your Application for Transfer Credit, once the form and all accompanying documentation have been fully submitted.

The Off-Campus Study Office has its own deadlines to which you must adhere, and those tend to fall around November during the fall semester and around February and April during the spring semester. The Office of the Registrar has its own set of deadlines as well. To learn of the deadlines set by these other offices, please visit their websites. Or you may contact Cas Sowa in the Off-Campus Study Office (csowa@colgate.edu) or the registrar’s office (transfercredit@colgate.edu).

Department-Recommended Study-Abroad Programs

The political science department currently has a list of study-abroad programs that it recommends to its students. You can access that list using the “Approved Programs Recommended for Majors” tab on the Off-Campus Study Office’s website. You are strongly advised to consult with the POSC department’s representative prior to enrollment in these recommended programs. You should not expect that every course offered by a program on the POSC-recommended programs list will qualify for POSC concentration credit. Each course must be reviewed to ensure it satisfies the criteria outlined above. (The latter includes courses offered by non-department–recommended programs.)

In a similar vein, not every course offered on Colgate University–sponsored study groups will count toward concentration credit. The exceptions to the latter rule are the department’s Washington, D.C., Study Group and its Geneva, Switzerland, Study Group. To learn which of the courses offered on the department’s own study groups satisfy the major requirements, you should consult the study group director.

Students participating in the AB+MA program with the Graduate Institute in Geneva can receive 300-level elective credit for political science–designated courses taken at the Graduate Institute during their senior fall semester. Up to three such courses can be counted toward a student’s POSC major or minor at Colgate.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no department deadline. You may submit your application for concentration credit at any time. However, the registrar’s office and the Off-Campus Study Office each has a set of deadlines you must meet. Please consult those offices concerning their deadlines.

Ordinarily, 10–14 days should be allotted for the review process. In some instances, more time is required, in others less. To be safe, allot 10–14 days.

Submit your application via the Transfer Credit Course Equivalency Form and attach the requested items. If you have any questions, please send an email to the transfer credit representative.

Yes. It is possible to obtain approval for University transfer credit and, at the same time, not receive approval for concentration credit. However, it is not possible to obtain concentration credit if the course(s) is not approved by the registrar for University transfer credit.

Yes. Note, however, the approval process will begin anew, which means you must follow all of the steps listed earlier.

No. Every off-campus course you take must be reviewed and approved for concentration credit, including courses offered by a recommended program. Why? Because the course offerings of recommended programs often change, as do the instructors. Hence, it is necessary to review your course selections. It is strongly suggested that you obtain provisional department approval for concentration credit prior to enrollment in a department-recommended off-campus program.

No. There is important give-and-take that occurs between an instructor and student during the research and writing process. The POSC department will not impose this additional workload on non-Colgate instructors, especially where this additional work was not configured into the original course design.

No. Each application for transfer credit is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Just as there are separate requirements for the IR major and the POSC major, so there are separate considerations that go into deciding whether an off-campus course satisfies the requirements of each major.

You may submit your application and documentation at any time you wish. However, the provisional approval process is intended to help you select quality courses and also potentially save you money by helping you maximize your off-campus study experience.

After extensive review and consultation, the department as a whole makes the decision whether to recommend a program to its major. The review is based on a wide variety of considerations, including prior experience with departments, careful review of a department’s offerings, the instructors, etc. The fact that the program of interest to you is not on the POSC list does not mean it is a low quality program, only that the POSC department has not yet opted to include it.