The Government Department offers an A.B. in Government, as well as a minor in Government.

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.

Foundational Courses:

  • GOVT 1200: U.S. Political Systems
    • [N.B.] Students who earned a 4 or 5 on the AP exam in US Government and Politics, take instead a “Sequential Course in American Politics,” as searchable by attribute in the Class Schedule Search page; the attribute is College/GOVT AmPol Seq.
  • GOVT 1400: Comparative Political Systems
  • GOVT 1600: International Relations
  • GOVT 1800: Elements of Political Theory

When possible, the Government Department sponsors some of the First-Year Seminars the College. A student who takes a Govt First-Year seminar can satisfy a Social Science Core Curriculum requirement. Depending on the syllabus and decision of the Professor, a GOVT First-Year seminar may also satisfy the appropriate Foundational course for a student who decides to major or minor in GOVT. In such a case, the student remains free to take the Foundational course if desired.

Those who plan to major in Government should take their foundational courses early in their undergraduate program. The foundational course is often a prerequisite for enrolling in intermediate or upper-level courses in that subfield. Completion of the relevant foundational course is also required for approval of courses taken in the subfield while studying abroad.

Elective Courses:

  • Six electives, including at least one elective in Political Theory and one Department Seminar

Government Majors are urged to select their six electives with the purpose of putting together a coherent set of courses that grounds their particular intellectual foundation in the discipline.
In addition to reviewing courses with the GOVT designation, students are encouraged to search, by attribute, “X-List: GOVT,” to find courses offered in other units of the university already approved as electives for the Government major.

The six elective courses 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 current majors take GOVT-2201: Analysis of Political Data in order to develop the statistical methods particular to and important for political science.

N.B. Beginning with students who matriculate in Fall 2024, GOVT 2201 is one of various courses offered across the University that fulfill the Core Curriculum Requirement in Quantitative Reasoning and Data Literacy [QRDL].

Students admitted as Transfers to Georgetown University may receive credit for a maximum of five courses taken at the previous institution(s), depending on the syllabi and pending approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Doing so does not limit their ability to study abroad and earn up to two courses if approved.

Georgetown 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 or approved summer courses taken elsewhere.

A Government major who thinks a course without a “GOVT” or “X-List: Govt” designation contributes to the student’s design of the major may make this case to the Director of Undergraduate Studies who is authorized to approve up to two courses as electives for the major, if the course meets department standards and the case is persuasive.

Integrated Writing Requirement

In order to graduate, all students in the College complete an Integrated Writing Requirement that demonstrates their ability to research and write according to the standards of their major field.
Government majors 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.
To fulfill the College’s Integrated Writing Requirement, students complete a “Department Seminar,” searchable by attribute. In a Department Seminar, majors engage in a longer individual research and writing project (generally 25-50 pages or a series of interrelated essays of 10-15 pages each) in conjunction with assigned readings and discussion. Students may take more than one Department Seminar.

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.

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 a course focused on the analysis of political data. 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.

Government Minor

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.  

More Information

For more information about the requirements for a major or minor in Government, please visit the Government Department website.