Applying to the Political and Social Thought Distinguished Major
Students in the College of Arts of Sciences apply to the Program in their fourth semester of study, normally on the Thursday before spring break. As a distinguished major, the Program admits a limited number of students each year, typically between 18 and 22. A 3.00 cumulative GPA is generally required for admission, but the average GPA of recent classes is substantially higher.
Before the Application
Is the Program Right for Me? Students should browse the PST website, especially the abstracts of recent PST theses, to get a sense of what kind of projects have been undertaken within the major. The director of the PST Program holds a meeting for the prospective majors in mid-February to answer any questions about admission procedures and Program requirements. Students are also encouraged to meet with the Director of the Program (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Study Abroad. The program requires students to be in Charlottesville during their third and fourth years. If you wish to study abroad, you should do so during your sophomore year.
Courses Toward the Major. It is recommended, but not required, that students take at least one “Foundation” course that will count toward the major. Please click here to see a partial list. All courses that satisfy the major’s requirements can be counted toward the major, even if taken before admission to the major.
Applications should be delivered by ONE of the following methods:
- A paper copy of all files (except your letter of recommendation) delivered to Allan Megill’s office (you can slip it under the door) at 434 Nau Hall. Please place your application in a manila envelope. If you are out of town and want to submit a paper application, the address is Allan Megill, Corcoran Department of History, 434 Nau Hall, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400180, Charlottesville VA 22904-4180.
- An electronic copy of the entire application (except your letter of recommendation, which must be e-mailed by the recommender, and your official transcript, which must be delivered to Allan Megill’s office), consisting of one single .pdf file, emailed to Allan Megill (email@example.com). (Don’t know how to combine multiple pdfs? Mac users click here; PC users click here)
Students interested in becoming PST majors should submit:
- A cover sheet including your full name (Last, First, Middle), student ID number (from your student card [transfer students in process are exempted from supplying an ID number]), e-mail address, cellphone number (if available), cumulative GPA, permanent mailing address, recommender name and department, and recommender e-mail.
- Your official transcript.
- A letter of recommendation by a faculty member, emailed directly to Allan Megill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A 300-500 word essay and statement of preferred areas of study. This essay should address the following questions: (1) What are your intellectual goals and why are they best addressed in the interdisciplinary PST major? (2) At this (tentative) point, what three “Study Areas” (aka “Area Studies”; see below) might you select in constructing your PST curriculum and why? This answer does not commit students to a particular course of study if they are accepted into the Program, but it should reflect a thoughtful and coherent curricular plan.
- A writing sample from a previous course. This sample should consist of a previously-completed AND GRADED term paper or essay, preferably with the instructor’s feedback included. The sample should represent your best work.
- A “informal” one-page CV that describes significant life and/or educational experiences, including extra-curricular interests/hobbies. (Since the goal is to say something about yourself, we assume that this document will be a bit different from a traditional CV, where the goal is to lay out your qualifications for a job.)
Candidates can expect to hear from the committee by the end of March.
Information about the PST Program, in brief:
The major has four basic components: PST Seminars (8 credits), consisting of two intensive seminars, one each in fall and spring of the third year, and a one-credit Thesis Seminar in fall and spring of the fourth year; two Foundation Courses (drawn from a large number of possible courses; 6 credits): and 6 credits each in three “Study Areas” (or “Area Studies”) defined by the student in collaboration with the Director; and a Thesis completed in the fourth year (6 credits, full year).
PST “Study Areas” can be rather freely defined. They might correspond to a theme; to a particular object of study; to A region of the world; or to a discipline or sub-discipline. Confused? E-mail the Director for an appointment (email@example.com). He can also put you in touch with current students. Note also that many past PST theses are to be found in Gibson 134 (do not remove from that room).