SFS Degree Requirements and Academic Policies
- Degree Requirements
- Core Curriculum Requirements
- Language Proficiency Requirement
- Academic Policies and Procedures
The School of Foreign Service educates the next generation of world leaders through a globally focused core curriculum, second language proficiency, and the opportunity to develop deep subject matter expertise through a required major and optional minors, certificates, electives, study abroad and other programs.
Consistent with Georgetown’s Jesuit identity, the SFS goal is to facilitate engaged citizens who will act with ethics and morality and apply their knowledge and insights to serve their communities and the world as students and throughout their lives.
The curriculum is governed by the SFS Curriculum Committee and is delivered and administered by the faculty and the curricular deans. Each major is governed by its respective field committee.
1. Degree Requirements
All candidates for a Bachelor’s degree from the School of Foreign Service must:
- fulfill the requirements of the University and SFS or BSBGA Core Curriculum,
- fulfill the foreign language proficiency requirement as outlined herein,
- fulfill the requirements of a major from the School of Foreign Service,
- complete additional credits through electives, certificates or minors for a minimum of 120 credits,
- complete at least half of the degree program (60 credits) and half the credits for a major in residence as an SFS student as outlined in the Matriculation section of the Academic Regulations, and,
- attain a final cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or better.
2. The Core Curriculum
The BSFS Core Curriculum (“the Core”) is an interconnected set of classes jointly required by Georgetown University and the School of Foreign Service. Core classes are drawn from a range of approaches and methods central to global understanding including economics, geography, history, humanities, philosophy, political science, science, theology and writing.
Students pursuing a B.S. in Business and Global Affairs (BSBGA) should refer to the BSBGA page in this bulletin for specific requirements.
Students studying at the Georgetown University in Qatar campus should refer to the Georgetown University in Qatar Bulletin for specific requirements.
For all other students pursuing the B.S. in Foreign Service degree, the combined Georgetown and SFS Core requirements and the courses that meet them are:
Map of the Modern World – 1 credit
- INAF 008: Map of the Modern World
Proseminar – 3 credits
- INAF 100: First-Year Proseminar
Economics – 9 credits
- ECON 001: Microeconomic Principles
- ECON 002: Macroeconomic Principles
- ECON 242: International Economics, ECON 243: International Trade, or ECON 244: International Finance
Note: International Economics, International Political Economy, and Global Business majors require both ECON-243 and ECON-244 as requisites.
Government – 6 credits
- GOVT 040: Comparative Political Systems
- GOVT 060: International Relations
History – 9 credits
- HIST 099: Any course
- Macro-Integrative History
- Non-Western Regional History (or regional seminar course, with permission)
Of these three courses, one must be designated an “early” history and one a “late” history.
Humanities: Arts, Literature, and Cultures (HALC) – 3 credits
- Any course that carry the HALC attribute
Philosophy – 6 credits
- PHIL 099: Political & Social Thought
- PHIL 100-199: Any course
Theology – 6 credits
- THEO 001: Problem of God or THEO-011 Biblical Literature
- THEO 001-199: Any course
Science – 3 credits
- INAF-180: SFS Science or other approved natural science or Science for All course
Writing – 3 credits
- WRIT-014 Critical Reading and Writing Seminar (for non-native English speakers only)
- WRIT 015: Writing and Culture Seminar
- One Domestic Diversity course (3 credits)
- One Global Diversity course (3 credits)
Courses that meet the Engaging Diversity requirements may also be used to meet core or major requirements.
3. Secondary Language Proficiency
The School of Foreign Service modern language requirement forms part of Georgetown University’s mission to prepare students to be reflective, engaged and informed global citizens. The goal is to prepare students for professional discussions in a modern language other than English that occur in public, private and non-profit sectors of international affairs. Thorough language study builds both linguistic competency and develops cultural literacy—a goal of the SFS curriculum. To satisfy this proficiency requirement, a student must demonstrate the ability to exchange ideas in conversation on contemporary issues involving international affairs in a modern language other than English. Students who complete this requirement early in their matriculation are strongly encouraged to continue to study, practice, and use the language to maintain and enhance competency.
All undergraduate students in the School of Foreign Service are expected to enroll in a modern language class each semester, for a letter grade, until they have met the proficiency requirement. Students cannot take a language course pass/fail. Language classes occupy elective slots in the academic schedule.
There are four ways a student can fulfill the language requirement. These options are listed below.
Graduating from a secondary school in which the language of instruction was a language other than English. Students must provide relevant documentation to their dean during their first semester at Georgetown. At the dean’s discretion, students may still be required to take a language placement test or proficiency exam during the first semester to verify whether further coursework is needed to obtain language proficiency.
For languages offered by Georgetown, passing a proficiency exam offered by the relevant language department A “pass” on the proficiency exam is comparable to achieving, depending on the language, an Intermediate High to Advanced Mid on the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages Proficiency Guidelines (ACTFL) rating, or a B1/low B2 in the Common European Framework of Reference. Students should check with individual departments for language specific examination formats, criteria and testing schedules and deadlines. Proficiency exams are also offered on-site at the end of some Georgetown-approved, summer intensive language program. Seniors who do not pass the examination in April may be able to retake the exam in May.
For languages not offered at Georgetown, obtaining a score of Advanced Mid on the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages Proficiency Guidelines (ACTFL). Tests are organized by the dean’s office.
Directly matriculating in a Georgetown-approved university whose language of instruction is not English and successfully completing one semester of full-time study in the regular coursework of degree seeking students.
Additional Language Policies
All students are expected to complete the language proficiency requirement prior to study abroad if they are nominated to an English language site or to another site in a language other than the one the student is pursuing to fulfill the requirement.
With an enrollment of about 350 students per class, the undergraduate program of the School of Foreign Service offers an intimate setting within Georgetown University. This scale makes it possible for students, faculty members, and deans to interact with one another on a personal basis. Each student is able to build up a network of professors with relevant expertise, as well as a rapport with one or more academic deans. This structure begins during the first year. For example, the professors who teach first-year proseminars get to know their students individually and offer general advice and support.
The Dean’s Office serves as the point of contact for students, for matters ranging from academic to personal. Each entering first-year or transfer student is assigned to one of the Associate and Assistant Deans, who are available via office hours or email throughout the academic year. One of their primary responsibilities is to help students work out an academic program that will enable them to complete their studies on schedule while also pursuing interests in elective subjects. The deans continue to provide support to students during junior and senior years on a wide variety of subjects, including study abroad. They also direct students to members of the faculty who share their interests in one or more areas, and these introductions are among the most fruitful ways of identifying professors to serve as mentors in the major during junior and senior years. The deans support the students when they encounter challenges or problems.
Advising for BSBGA Students is outlined on the BSBGA page of this Bulletin.
Descriptions of Courses Sponsored by the School
As noted above, the coursework for the Core and for SFS majors draws on the offerings of several different departments as well as courses sponsored directly by the School of Foreign Service. Courses sponsored by an academic department are described under the heading of that department. Courses sponsored by the School appear under International Affairs (prefix “INAF”), each of the majors, and several of the SFS centers and programs.
Honors in the School of Foreign Service
Every semester academic honors are noted on full-time students’ transcripts based on their grade point average for that semester. “First Honors” is awarded to students who earn a 3.900 GPA or higher; “Second Honors” is awarded to those who earn at least a 3.700 GPA, and students who earn at least a 3.500 achieve the “Dean’s List,” provided that there are no failing grades that semester. Semester honors are recognized by a permanent notation on official transcripts.
Note: “full-time” status for the purpose of computing honors requires that a student be enrolled in at least twelve credits of coursework for which quality points are awarded. Pass/fail grades are not awarded quality points.
Upon graduation, final academic honors are determined by the cumulative GPA. For information on Latin Honors please see the Undergraduate Bulletin section on Studying, Grades and Credit.
Honors in the Majors
Students who meet the criteria to graduate with honors in the major receive an honors citation on their final transcript. They are also recognized at the annual Tropaia ceremony during graduation weekend.
The Peter F. Krogh Honors Seminar
Named for the Dean Emeritus of the School of Foreign Service, this seminar offers 15 highly qualified students the opportunity to work closely with a senior member of the faculty. The Krogh seminar always addresses a theme of central importance in international affairs. Participation in the Krogh seminar is by application. Students who successfully complete the seminar receive the Peter F. Krogh medal at the annual Tropaia ceremony during graduation weekend.
National Honor Societies
Students in the School of Foreign Service are eligible for election to Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Sigma Nu (Jesuit National Honor Society), Omicron Delta Epsilon (Economics National Honor Society), Pi Sigma Alpha (National Honor Society in Political Science), Phi Alpha Theta (International Honor Society in History), Pi Delta Phi (National French Honor Society), Sigma Delta Pi (National Spanish Honor Society), Phi Lambda Beta (Portuguese National Honor Society), and Dobro Slovo (National Slavic Honor Society).
For detailed information on each of the honor societies open to School of Foreign Service students, please see the section Honors and Awards in this bulletin. The foreign language honor societies are listed under “Awards of the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics.”
Fellowships, Scholarships, and Prizes
Students from the School of Foreign Service are very successful competitors for a variety of post-graduate fellowships and scholarships, including the DAAD, Fulbright, Luce, Marshall, Mellon, Rhodes, and Truman. For more information, please refer to the Georgetown Office of Fellowships, Awards, and Research.
The School of Foreign Service offers undergraduates a wide range of fellowships and programs for research and study. Undergraduates may pursue scholarships toward internships, travel for academic research, study abroad opportunities, economic conferences, and more.
Tutorials offer students special opportunities to study subjects that are not part of the regular curriculum. Usually, tutorials involve one student and one faculty member, although occasionally a group of two or three students will band together to pursue a subject of common interest. Normally, tutorials are given by full-time faculty members to full-time students in good academic standing. Tutorials represent a teaching overload for professors, so students cannot expect that faculty members will necessarily agree to offer tutorials at their convenience. Tutorials should represent an intellectual commitment and workload similar to that required of a normal three-credit course. As a rule, students take no more than two tutorials in the course of their undergraduate careers, although special arrangements in place of honors in some SFS majors might fall outside this guideline.
Students in the School of Foreign Service interested in setting up a tutorial must meet five conditions: 1) the subject of the tutorial is not available as a regular University course; 2) there is an intellectually compelling reason for studying this subject as part of the undergraduate degree; 3) a faculty member with the appropriate expertise is available and willing to offer the tutorial; 4) the Department Chair and the director of the undergraduate program, approve the request; 5) the appropriate paperwork is submitted to the Dean’s Office in a timely fashion (note: forms to request approval for tutorials are available online). Any tutorial that is approved as a substitute for a Core or major requirement must be taken for a quality grade (A through D). Tutorials that are taken for elective credit may be taken for a quality grade or on a pass/fail basis. Credits for tutorials cost the same as regular course credits. All the academic regulations governing the regular curriculum are applicable to tutorials. Tutorials come in two varieties, reading courses and research tutorials:
- Reading courses usually focus on mastering the scholarly literature on a particular subject. For example, a reading course on the origins of the French Revolution might focus on the major historiographical interpretations of the Revolution as well as on critiques of this literature. The backbone of any reading tutorial is a substantial reading list put together with the help of the supervising professor. The tutorial would meet weekly or biweekly and stress discussion of the readings for that period. A variety of written assignments could be an appropriate means of assessment, including, for example, bibliographical essays, critical reviews, or analyses of one or more problems raised by the literature.
- Research tutorials focus on the collection and analysis of primary materials in the form of a major research paper. In framing a project, guidance should be sought from the professor. The most typical flaw in undergraduate research projects is overestimating the amount of material that one can reasonably digest in a single semester or choosing a subject on which necessary data is unavailable. Research tutorials meet weekly or as the pace of the project demands. The final papers vary in length according to the subject, but a 25-page minimum would be typical for the social sciences.
Please note: the material addressed in both reading courses and research tutorials should be defined in a way that allows you to finish all work for the tutorial by the end of the semester. Incompletes are not routinely granted for tutorials.
The School of Foreign Service strongly believes that a period of study in another country can contribute an invaluable intercultural dimension and language-learning opportunity to the educational preparation of all who aspire to international careers. Students are, therefore, encouraged to develop appropriate plans for international study in conjunction with their educational program at the School. In most cases during semester or academic year study abroad students must be fully enrolled in a recognized university and study in the native language with students of the host country. Such direct matriculation puts a premium on post-advanced knowledge of the appropriate language and is most feasible in countries in which French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (or English) are the languages of instruction. Modified options are available in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian-speaking parts of the world. These programs combine a heavy emphasis on language acquisition with a limited selection of coursework in English, often with a regional focus. The Office of Global Education has developed a range of study abroad programs that meet other needs, including intensive language study and directed field research.
One of the most important issues to address in terms of study abroad is how the course work taken abroad will or will not contribute to one’s progress towards the BSFS degree, especially the requirements for the major. This is a subject for careful planning and consultation with the curricular dean responsible for coordination of the major. The deans bear final responsibility for crediting course work taken abroad towards degree requirements.
- Participants must be full-time students while overseas, unless their dean has given preapproval for a reduced course load. A full course load is considered to be the same as that of a regular full-time degree candidate at the host university, as defined in the courseload and grading policy developed for each program by the Office of Global Education. Recreational travel must not interfere with regularly scheduled classes. Students may not request early or alternative examinations to facilitate departure before the end of the program. All course assignments and examinations must be completed by the time of departure from the country at the end of the semester.
- The student code of conduct applies to students while overseas.
- Participants are expected to comply with the laws of the country where they are studying and those of the countries in which they travel. Students are also subject to all academic and disciplinary regulations of the host university. While overseas, students should conduct themselves as guests, keeping in mind that they are subject to all the laws of the country while not necessarily enjoying the same privileges as nationals. Georgetown University students are expected to remain observers of political activities rather than participants. Becoming a political activist may endanger one’s safety or that of one’s colleagues in the program, and will almost certainly jeopardize the program itself.
- Students are expected to complete their language proficiency requirement before being approved for study abroad in a language other than the proficiency target language (including sites where English is the language of instruction) unless they have received explicit approval from the SFS Standards Committee.
5. Academic Policies and Procedures
The School of Foreign Service operates within the parameters of the general academic policies shared by all undergraduate schools of the University which are outlined in the Bulletin under “Academic Regulations.”
All students are required to comply with University academic regulations. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with these regulations, and no student can claim that unfamiliarity with these regulations warrants an exception to them.
SFS students studying at the Doha, Qatar campus must refer to the GU-Qatar specific academic policies. Any GU-Qatar policy that differs from the SFS policies supersedes the SFS policies on the Qatar campus.
Regulations particular to the School of Foreign Service include, but are not limited to the following:
- Students must complete a minimum of six semesters of university study, four of which must be full-time and in residence in the School of Foreign Service. A minimum of 60 credits must be completed in residence. Semesters are defined as fall and spring semesters (not summer). Study abroad at GU-Qatar and Villa le Balze count toward the residency requirement.
- Students are required to complete at least half of the coursework for an SFS major at Georgetown. Transfer credit for courses (including study abroad courses and non-GU summer courses) in excess of half of a major will be counted as free electives toward the degree.
- Undergraduate students are expected to be full-time. Seniors who have met all residency requirements may be part-time in the final semester. Students with compelling academic reasons, prior to the final semester, may petition the Academic Standards Committee for part-time status.
- Courses that fulfill requirements for core curriculum, major, minor, certificate or fellows programs must be taken for a letter grade. Courses that are part of the sequence of language courses taken to prepare students to attain the foreign language oral proficiency requirement (or additional language proficiency certifications) must also be taken for a letter grade.
- Audited courses do not count toward the undergraduate degree. GU-Q students are not allowed to audit GU-Q courses.
- With the exception of summer school courses listed in the usual departments of the four undergraduate schools on campus (College, SFS, MSB and NHS), SFS students may not enroll in courses offered through the School of Continuing Studies for its various degrees, certificates, and special programs.
- All students are required to maintain continuous enrollment in a foreign language course each semester until or unless they have fulfilled the foreign language proficiency requirement.
- Students who meet the foreign language oral proficiency requirement with their native language must have the completion of this requirement confirmed by the end of their first academic year.
- All students are expected to complete the Foreign Language Proficiency requirement prior to overseas study if they plan to study at an English language site or a site in a language other than the one they are pursuing to fulfill the oral proficiency requirement.
- No more than four courses may be taken in summer school away from Georgetown in the course of completing the undergraduate degree. Prior approval for such courses must be obtained from the Undergraduate Program Office.
- Students on elective leave of absence may not transfer credit for courses taken elsewhere during their leave. In rare circumstances, and with written approval of the Undergraduate Program Office prior to the leave, students may be allowed to transfer a limited number of courses.
- Students with more than one outstanding incomplete course must receive permission from their dean to enroll in a full courseload in the subsequent term. Students with more than one outstanding incomplete course may be directed to take a leave of absence or enroll in a partial schedule.
- Students must declare their intended major after the end of add/drop in the fall semester of second year and before fall registration in the spring semester of second year or be subject to academic sanctions.
- All seniors are required to complete a Senior Review during the penultimate semester to obtain confirmation of final degree requirements and to apply for their degree. Failure to apply for the degree by the designated deadline may necessitate the postponement of graduation.
- A request to waive any of these requirements must be made in writing to the SFS Committee on Academic Standards through the student’s dean.
Academic Performance and Review
At the conclusion of each semester, the Committee on Academic Standards (Standards Committee) convenes to review the academic records of all undergraduates in the School of Foreign Service. The Standards Committee is comprised of the BSFS Associate and Assistant Deans. The Standards Committee meets in closed session and the Committee’s decisions are communicated to students in writing.
Academic infractions that require action by the Standards Committee include:
- Low cumulative and/or semester grade point averages
- Unsatisfactory grades
- Failures (including a grade of U in Map of the Modern World)
- Failure to enroll in required classes or make progress toward the degree
- Failure to enroll in a foreign language if the proficiency requirement is not completed
- Patterns of course withdrawals
- Unauthorized incomplete courses (which are treated as failing grades)
- Failure to complete a minimum of twelve academic credits in a semester.
The Standards Committee has the authority to impose sanctions on students whose academic performance is deemed deficient. Sanctions reflect the nature of the academic deficiencies they aim to address.
Students who fail a course, earn a semester or cumulative GPA below 2.00, or who fail to earn a minimum of twelve credits are automatically placed on probation. While on probation, students are expected to complete at least twelve credit hours and earn a semester GPA of 2.00. No notation of academic probation is made on the transcript.
Students may be suspended for one or more semesters for unsatisfactory academic performance or for failing to meet the terms of academic probation. The length of the suspension is determined by the Standards Committee. The committee may also impose requirements for readmission to SFS. Students who are suspended may not transfer credits to Georgetown earned elsewhere during the suspension period. Academic suspensions are noted on the transcript. While suspended, students must adhere to the University’s Code of Conduct that outlines permissible and non-permissible access to campus and campus resources for suspended students.
Students may be dismissed from the university because of unsatisfactory academic performance. In cases of dismissal, students are permanently separated from Georgetown. Dismissed students may not register for or attend classes, attempt to complete a Georgetown degree, live in a residence hall, or participate in any activities reserved for students in good standing at Georgetown. Academic dismissal is noted on the transcript.
The Standards Committee reserves the right to impose other sanctions as necessary.
Students who are suspended or dismissed may appeal the decision of the Standards Committee by petitioning the School of Foreign Service Appeals Board.
The SFS Appeals Board consists of two members of the Faculty and the Director of the Undergraduate Program, or his/her designate, who serves as Chair. No member of the Faculty may sit on the Appeals Board if he/she has at any time graded the student who is appealing.
The Appeals Board is an educational hearing board and not a court of law. Its purpose is twofold:
- To determine whether or not the Standards Committee made significant and material errors in its procedures or in its application of academic policy; and
- To determine whether or not new evidence exists that would warrant a different sanction from that which was assigned by the Standards Committee.
To file an appeal, a student must submit a written request the Chair of the Academic Standards Committee within the timeline specified by the Standards Committee. The student is expected to present evidence to the Appeals Board that demonstrates cause for amending the initial decision. Students may appear in person to support their case.
The Appeals Board deliberates in closed session. The Board may recommend upholding the Standards Committee’s initial decision or it may recommend a mitigation of the decision. The Appeals Board may not recommend a more severe judgment. The Board’s decision is final and is not subject to further appeal. The final decision of the Appeals Board is communicated to the student in writing.
Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business and Global Affairs should consult the BSBGA page of this bulletin for information on the academic standards of that program.