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The Major

Political and Social Thought is an excellent major for a variety of future activities—in many cases perhaps even better than a major within a single department. Many students graduating with a PST major pursue further studies in graduate and professional schools, often gaining admission to the nation’s top programs. Members of recent classes, for example, have been accepted to law schools at Harvard, Yale, N.Y.U., and Virginia and to Ph.D. programs at the same and similar institutions. Other students have gone on to careers in publishing, investment banking, community organizing, theater, and positions in NGOs and advocacy groups like Amnesty International. In short, PST majors find themselves well-prepared for careers in a wider variety of fields.


  • The PST Core Seminars (6 credits, taken in the third year);
  • Two Foundation Courses (drawn from a large number of possible courses; 6 credits);
  • 6 credits each in three “Study Areas” defined by the student in collaboration with the Director;
  • A Thesis completed in the fourth year (6 credits attributed to the thesis itself, plus 2 credits for the thesis-workshop seminars).

The third-year Core Seminar is intended to build a strong sense of intellectual community. In the fourth year, students focus on their individual thesis projects, receiving guidance from the bi-weekly thesis seminar and workshop. “Study Areas” are flexible, and might correspond to a theme; to a particular object of study; to a region of the world; or to a discipline or sub-discipline.

Because of the intense and cohesive nature of the program over two years, study abroad during the school year cannot ordinarily be allowed.

The program attracts able, creative, diverse, and independent students with strong interests — theoretical and practical — in politics and society. Each spring, 18-20 rising third-year students are selected for the program from a substantial applicant pool. Students are chosen on the basis of grades, a writing sample, a faculty recommendation, and a short application essay.