Students in each of the department's programs select a primary and secondary subfield.
- Undergraduate majors and concentrators choose a primary and secondary subfield from among the four traditional subfields.
- M.A. candidates normally choose a primary and secondary subfield but may follow other patterns of study with the permission of the Director of the M.A. program.
- Ph.D. candidates choose a major from among the four traditional subfields. They also choose a minor field from among the traditional four, or they pursue defined minors in political methodology, political economy, economics, or law, or, with permission of the Director of Graduate Studies, an individually designed minor field.
- The undergraduate major and the Ph.D. program require at least one course in political methodology.
Many faculty members in the department work in more than one of the traditional subfields. The faculty also includes scholars who focus on political methodology and political economic theory.
Columbia political science faculty study real-world questions, using methods ranging from ethnography, historical process-tracing, archival research, and interviews, to quantitative data collection, complex statistical analysis, lab and field experiments, and game-theoretic modeling. The department is proud of its reputation for employing empirically rigorous and diverse methods to address large and fundamental problems facing society.