Major in Government
Requirements for the A.B. in Government
Government majors are required to complete at least these 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 strongly recommends majors take GOVT-201: Analysis of Political Data in order to learn the statistical methods particular to and important for political science. GOVT-201 counts as an elective in the major. Students may transfer a maximum of two courses in the field of politics, political science, or international relations from outside of Georgetown to the major, inclusive of approved study abroad and 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 or approved summer coursework taken elsewhere.
Any course cross-listed with Government in the Schedule of Classes counts as an elective in the major. The director of undergraduate studies may approve up to two other courses for Government major elective credit, if the course meets department standards.
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 advanced courses specifically designated as “Department Seminars” during the specific semester of enrollment, students undertake longer (generally 25 pages or more) writing assignments and individual research, in addition to intense class discussion and substantial reading and writing assignments. A “Department Seminar” fulfills the College’s graduation 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, completion of the four foundational courses, full-time enrollment, 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.