Frequently Asked Questions about the Minor in Democracy Studies

About the Minor in Democracy Studies

The University of Chicago’s Minor in Democracy Studies provides students essential knowledge, insights, methods, and critical perspectives necessary to understanding the world around us and the historical developments that have placed it in such a precarious state.

We have compiled a set of frequently asked questions about the minor below. If you have other questions, please contact Abigail Clark (

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Minor in Democracy Studies?

    • First, let’s start with what a minor is. According to the College, minors provide “a way of focusing a student’s general electives, demonstrating fluency in areas not reflected in a major, complementing a major, or simply allowing students the opportunity to widen the scope of their education in the College.”
    • The Minor in Democracy Studies is aimed at students interested in establishing a grounding in the study of self-government as an element of their intellectual and civic competence.


What courses do I have to take to complete the minor?

    • Students who wish to complete the minor in Democracy Studies will need to complete five courses, including one required course called Democracy and Its Critics, and four electives. The list of approved courses for these electives is continually updated on the minor’s webpage.
    • Students are required to take one “global” course, which largely focuses on the democratic experience of countries outside of the United States. Students are further encouraged, but not required, to take one course on democracy in ancient times (defined as prior to 650 AD). Qualifying courses are indicated in the approved courses list.


My major is not in the social sciences. Can I still minor in Democracy Studies?

    • You can, and you are encouraged to! Minors are meant to expand the educational scope of a student’s education, and the Democracy Minor is improved by having students with a wide variety of perspectives.


How is this different from a Political Science major?

    • Democracy is not just a political system; it is a mode of social organization and cultural cohesion. It can thus be studied from many perspectives. The approved courses for the minor reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the minor, with courses included from disciplines including classics, history, human rights, and public policy, among others.


I can just double count courses from my major for the Minor in Democracy Studies, right?

    • Courses in the minor may not be double counted with a student’s major(s), other minors, or general education requirements.


I want to sign up for this minor. How can I do that?

    • Interested students must complete the Democracy Minor Map and return it to Abigail Clark ( to declare their intention to pursue the minor, no later than Spring Quarter of their third year. Students can also meet with Abigail in person or via Zoom for a longer meeting, should they wish.


I might be interested in the minor, but I’m not sure. How can I stay in the loop without making a decision yet?

    • Sign up for the minor’s mailing list here.


I have taken a course that discussed democracy in depth, but it is not on the approved list of courses. Can it count towards the minor?

    • If you have taken a course that you feel should count towards the minor, we are happy to review it and decide whether or not it will fulfill an elective credit for the minor. You might be asked to defend, in writing, why the course should count. A good guideline is to ask yourself, “Could I write a strong, 250-word argument for why this course is applicable to the minor?” If the answer is yes, please send the syllabus to Abigail ( Please note that it may take some time to review a course.


What is the Chicago Center on Democracy? How is it different from the Institute of Politics?

    • The Minor in Democracy Studies is run collaboratively by the Social Sciences Collegiate Division and the Chicago Center on Democracy. The Chicago Center on Democracy is an academic center that serves as a hub at the University of Chicago for research, discussion, and education around topics of democracy. There is some overlap with the work of the Institute of Politics, but the Chicago Center on Democracy is distinguished by its focus on broader disciplinary approaches, interest in global issues of democracy, and programming for faculty, graduate students, and undergrads.


Can I focus on global democracy or U.S. democracy while taking the minor?

    • Yes! The minor is set up to be flexible. If you are interested in global democracy, we offer many such courses. It is also possible to focus on the United States. However, all students must take at least one course that fulfills the global democracy requirement. If you are interested in focusing on U.S. democracy, you could consider fulfilling your global requirement with a course such as HIST 27103 American Revolution in Global Context.


Where can I read more about the minor?


How will this minor prepare me for life after college?

    • Democracy is not just a political system; it is a mode of social organization and cultural cohesion. It can thus be studied from many perspectives. The approved courses for the minor reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the minor, with courses included from disciplines including classics, history, human rights, and public policy, among others.


How can I find an internship related to democracy?

    • Career Advancement and the Democracy Curriculum are proud to offer UChicago Democracy Careers. Get involved to explore exciting careers in a range of fields, from journalism to public service, focused on democratic institutions.


What other democracy activities are happening on campus?

    • Entities across the university are working hard to foster a community engaged in democracy at UChicago. Democracy initiatives on campus can be divided into two categories: academic and extra-curricular. Academically, the College now offers the Democracy Core Sequence, which can be taken as your Social Sciences Core sequence. The Democracy Minor is a separate initiative intended for those students who wish to pursue additional education on d Students who have taken the Democracy Core as well as those who have not taken the Democracy Core are welcome to join the minor. Students in the minor and students who may decide that the minor is not right for them alike are invited to take part in extra-curricular activities related to democracy. In addition to talks and lectures, we also have a Student Advisory Board and opportunities to be a research assistant or intern with the Chicago Center on Democracy. A wonderful way to stay up-to-date and involved in the Democracy community is to sign up for the Democracy Studies’ newsletter. We would love to have you involved in the community at any and all levels.


I am interested in minoring in Democracy Studies, but I do not know which classes to take. What should I do?

    • Meet with Abigail or send her an email ( She will be happy to discuss your interests and help you to customize an academic plan that suits your interests and fulfills the requirements of the minor.

Beyond its broader educational and civic value, a minor in Democratic Studies offers preparation for a range of career interests, from politics, law, and public policy to education, social work, journalism, media, and public interest advocacy.