A degree in Government equips students with theoretical and practical knowledge concerning many different dimensions of politics, including:
- Domestic political institutions and processes in the United States and throughout the world;
- International and transnational relations; and
- The scope and nature of ethics, justice, rights, and obligations in political life.
Courses in the Department are located in one (or more) of four subfields:
- American Government;
- Comparative Government;
- International Relations; and
- Political Theory.
The Department seeks to provide its students with more than extensive knowledge of political institutions and processes; it aims to arm them with additional tools that help them to better evaluate, advance, and refute political arguments. These tools involve logical analysis, causal inference, research skills, and effective communication of ideas.
A degree in Government cultivates relevant skills in a number of different ways. Most Government courses require students to practice and develop analytic writing skills -- whether in the form of in-class essays, out-of-class essays, or research papers. Students also must complete at least one Department Seminar. These seminars, which majors usually take during their junior or senior years, are limited to fifteen participants and involve significant writing assignments geared toward developing a student's skills under the close supervision of a faculty member or advanced graduate student.
The Government Department takes a pluralistic approach to methodological issues; it aims to instill its students with an understanding of a variety of different forms of rigorous causal and logical analysis. Majors should therefore expect exposure to various forms of statistical inference, singular causal analysis, deductive reasoning, and conceptual analysis.
Many students take classes on statistical techniques and go on to more extensive work with--or even the development of--data sets on topics that interest them. Others focus on the explanation of specific historical events and develop skills in, for example, process tracing, the identification and vetting of causal mechanisms, and qualitative counterfactual analysis. Some students prefer to focus on methods appropriate for the assessment of normative claims about political institutions, justice, and other important issues in political theory.
Through the required introductory courses, students develop competency in multiple methodologies. In order to ensure a thorough understanding of key normative and ethical concerns in political life, the Department requires students to take an upper-level course in political theory. This requirement not only reflects Georgetown's Jesuit traditions, but the long history of student and alumni engagement with domestic and international politics.
In all of these respects, a Government degree not only assists students to become better national and global citizens, but also provides them with a foundation for leadership in their chosen vocations.
Comprehensive information about the undergraduate program can be found in the Undergraduate Program Handbook.
Contacts and Links
The Directors of Undergraduate Studies are Professor Mark Rom and Professor Matthew Carnes. Please see the Directors of Undergraduate Studies to declare your major and request approval for studying abroad.
Course scheduling information can be found via the registrar's website and the MyAccess system. When prompted, select "Government," "Political Economy," "International Affairs" or "All." You may also sort courses by Professor or type.