Major in Government

Government majors are required to take ten courses: four introductory courses and six electives. The required introductory courses are:

  • U.S. Political Systems (GOVT-020, previously GOVT-008)
  • Comparative Political Systems (GOVT-040, previously GOVT-121)
  • International Relations (GOVT-060, previously GOVT-006)
  • Elements of Political Theory (GOVT-080, previously GOVT-117)

The electives are organized into four subfields: American Government, Comparative Government, International Relations, and Political Theory. The subfield designations are indicated by attribute in the Class Schedule Listing, and courses can be searched for by subfield in the Class Schedule Search page: "College/GOVT: American Govt.," "College/GOVT: Comparative," "College/GOVT: Int'l Relations," and "College/GOVT: Pol Theory."

The six electives must include at least one course in political theory and one department seminar (which is generally taken in the junior or senior year). Department seminars will be indicated with the "College/GOVT: Dept Seminar" attribute tag in the Class Schedule Listing and can also be searched for using the attribute in the Class Schedule Search page.

The Department encourages majors to take one course in statistics, either GOVT-201 or MATH-040. GOVT-201 is particularly recommended given its focus on statistical methods particular to political science.  Either one of these courses counts as an elective in the Government major and also counts towards the core requirements of the College as a class in mathematics. Note: these two courses are mutually exclusive; only one of them may be taken for credit towards the degree.

Students may transfer a maximum of two courses from outside of Georgetown to the major, inclusive of study abroad and any summer courses taken elsewhere. An exception is made for transfer students, who may transfer a maximum of five courses to the major, inclusive of coursework at their previous institution(s) as well as study abroad and additional summer coursework taken elsewhere.

Any course cross-listed with Government in the Schedule of Classes will count as an elective in the major. Courses not cross-listed with Government can only count with approval of the director of undergraduate studies. 

Integrated Writing Requirement

Students acquire and practice a variety of political science research methods and writing skills across the introductory courses in the major. Through short- to medium-length assignments, they gain experience in writing data-analytic papers, policy briefs, comparative case studies, and argumentative and persuasive essays.

In addition, in their advanced coursework (normally numbered 300 and above, and designated as Departmental Seminars), students undertake longer (generally 25 pages or more) writing assignments and individual research. These courses feature intense class discussion and substantial reading and writing assignments, designed to help students write persuasively on political topics. Therefore, all Government courses label "Department Seminar" fulfill the College’s requirement for one “Integrated Writing” course in the major.

Government Honors

The Government Honors Program is an intensive, three-semester program of closely mentored research and writing that culminates in a Senior Honors Thesis. As part of the program, students take an advanced seminar in Political Theory and GOVT-201 Analysis of Political Data I (previously Scope and Methods of Political Science) in the spring of the junior year (note that students who have taken either MATH-040 or GOVT-201 prior to being admitted to the Honors Program will not be required to take GOVT-201 or an additional course in statistics). Students then prepare a thesis proposal in the fall of their senior year (as participants in the Honors Research Seminar) and complete the thesis (in consultation with their mentor) in the spring. Students defend their work in an oral examination at the conclusion of their last semester. Aside from a waiver of the elective in political theory, students are expected to meet all the normal requirements for the major. Prerequisites for the program include a declared government major and a minimum GPA of 3.5 overall and in government courses. A call for applications from interested juniors is issued in the fall. Note: students studying abroad in the spring of their junior year are not eligible for the Honors Program.


Students who minor in government must take the four introductory courses of the Government major and any two electives. Students can receive minor credit for no more than one course taken outside of the university; transfer students may receive minor credit for up to two political science courses taken at another college or university.

More Information

For more information about the requirements for a major or minor in Government, please see the Undergraduate Program Handbook.

(For course listings for Government see