Major in Government

Major Requirements

Government majors are required to take ten courses in their major: four introductory courses and six electives. The required introductory courses are:

  • GOVT 020 U.S. Political Systems (formerly GOVT 008)
  • GOVT 040 Comparative Political Systems (formerly GOVT 121)
  • GOVT 060 International Relations (formerly GOVT 006)
  • GOVT 080 Elements of Political Theory (formerly GOVT 117)

The electives are organized into the four subfields of American Government, International Relations, Comparative Government, and Political Theory. Political Economy courses may exist in each of the four subfields.

Students may take no more than four of the six electives in any one subfield and must include at least on in political theory.

The subfield designations are listed in the Registrar’s course listings under the course title: Field: AG, Field: CG; Field: IR; Field PT; Field: PECO for subfields American Government, Comparative Government, International Relations, Political Theory and Political Economy, respectively.

The Department encourages majors to take one course in statistics, either GOVT-201 Analysis of Political Data I or MATH-040 Probability and Statistics or ECON-121 Economic Statistics. GOVT-201 is particularly recommended given its focus on political issues.  Note all these classes count towards the General Education requirement of the College as a class in mathematics, and one of the three can serve as an elective in the Government major. It is important to underscore that only ONE of these classes may count as an elective in the major.

During the junior or senior year, students are required to take one Department Seminar. These seminars, which count as one of the six electives, will be indicated in the course title as “Dept Sem:” on the Registrar’s course listings.

Students can receive credit towards their major for no more than two courses taken outside of the Government Department, unless the student is a transfer student. It is strongly recommended that students take the four required introductory courses (i.e., GOVT 020, 040, 060, and 080) offered by the Department rather than counting courses outside the Department toward those requirements. Students with a score of 4 or 5 on the AP American Government exam may receive credit for GOVT 020.

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 Departmental Seminars), students undertake longer (generally 25 pages or more) writing assignments and undertake individual research. These courses feature intense class discussion and substantial reading and writing assignments, designed to help students write persuasively on political topics. Therefore, all Government courses label "Department Seminar" fulfill the College’s requirement for one “Integrated Writing” course in the major.

Declaring a Major:

Students usually declare their majors in Spring semester of their Sophomore year. Students should go to the College Dean’s office and request a “Declaration of Major” form. The form should be completed by the students and then brought to either Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Government for approval and a signature. Students then return the approved form to the College Dean’s office. One of the Department’s Directors of Undergraduate Studies will assign an adviser to students upon declaration of the major.

In order to declare a major in government, students must complete at least two of the four introductory courses in Government (GOVT 020, 040, 060, and 080) and obtain a grade no lower than a C+ in each. The G.P.A. in all Government courses taken prior to declaration must be a C+ or higher. Similarly, transfer students must have completed at least two courses in political science with a grade no lower than a C+ in each. Please check the schedule each semester for a list of courses and prerequisites.

Minor Requirements

Students who minor in government must take the four introductory courses of the Government major and any two electives. Students can receive credit for no more than one course taken outside of the department to the minor. Transfer students may receive 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 see the Undergraduate Program Handbook.

Please see the Government Honors Program for information about the specific requirements for honor students.

Still have questions? Need a signature for your major declaration, study abroad, or transfer credit forms? Please talk to our Director of Undergraduate Studies.