Major in Government
Requirements for the A.B. in Government
Government majors are required to take ten courses: four foundational courses and six electives. The foundational courses are:
- U.S. Political Systems (GOVT-020)
- Comparative Political Systems (GOVT-040)
- International Relations (GOVT-060)
- Elements of Political Theory (GOVT-080)
The six electives must include a second course in political theory and at least one Department Seminar (generally taken in the junior or senior year). Both Department Seminars and political theory electives are searchable by attribute in the Class Schedule Search page; the attributes are “College/GOVT: Dept Seminar” and “College/GOVT: Pol Theory,” respectively.
The Department recommends majors take GOVT-201 Analysis of Political Data because it focuses on statistical methods particular to political science. GOVT-201 counts as an elective in the major and also counts towards the College core requirement in math/science as a class in mathematics. 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 Department Seminars), students undertake longer (generally 25 pages or more) writing assignments and individual research. Since Department Seminars feature intense class discussion and substantial reading and writing assignments designed to help students write persuasively on political topics, any Government course labeled “Department Seminar” fulfills the College’s requirement for one “Integrated Writing” course in the major. Students are free to take more than one Department Seminar, as all Department Seminars also count as electives in the major.
The Government Honors Program is an intensive, three-semester program of closely mentored research and writing that culminates in a Senior Honors Thesis.
A call for applications from interested juniors is issued in the fall. The Honors Program begins in the spring semester of junior year. Note: Students studying abroad in the spring of their junior year are not eligible for the Honors Program.
Prerequisites for the program include a declared government major and a minimum GPA of 3.5 overall and in government courses.
In the initial semester, students take an advanced seminar in Political Theory—which satisfies the requirement for a second political theory course in the major—and GOVT-201: Analysis of Political Data (unless they have already taken the course). Students prepare a thesis proposal in the fall of their senior year, in the Honors Research Seminar, and complete the thesis, in a three-credit tutorial with their mentor, in the spring. The thesis satisfies the requirement for a Department Seminar. All four required Honors courses count as electives for the major.
Students defend their work in an oral examination at the conclusion of their last semester. Those the faculty deem to have succeeded in writing an Honors quality thesis receive Honors in the major at graduation.
Students in the College and MSB who minor in government must take the four foundational courses of the Government major and any two electives. Students in SFS and NHS who minor in Government also complete six courses, after meeting with the director of undergraduate studies to determine if any modification should be made for the foundational courses requirement. 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.
For more information about the requirements for a major or minor in Government, please see the Undergraduate Program Handbook.