Major in Government

The Government Major

Major Requirements

The Government Major at Georgetown comprises ten courses:  four foundational courses and six electives.

  • GOVT 1200 U.S. Political Systems (unless satisfied by a qualifying score in AP American Government and Politics)
  • GOVT 1400 Comparative Political Systems 
  • GOVT 1600 International Relations 
  • GOVT 1800 Elements of Political Theory 

To the extent possible (with the exception of Transfer students) Government majors are expected to take the foundational courses at Georgetown and early in their undergraduate program.

In addition to the foundational courses, Government majors are required to take six electives—but may certainly take more.  The electives must include a second, upper-division, Political Theory course and a Department Seminar.  On the Registrar’s schedule, these carry the attributes of “PT” or “DepSem.” 

Through the elective courses they choose, students are encouraged to construct a strong academic foundation within the discipline that matches their own intellectual and professional goals.  While six electives are required, Government majors may certainly take more. 

In addition to reviewing each semester’s set of GOVT courses offered, majors are encouraged to consider innovative and experience-based classes designated as GOVX.

Given the reliance in Political Science on statistical methodology, the Government Department strongly encourages majors to include among their electives GOVT 2201:  Analysis of Political Data.  [NB:  Beginning in Fall 2018, Math 1400 no longer counts as an elective toward a Government Major.]

Courses offered by other units in the University that are cross-listed with GOVT may count toward the Government major.  On the Registrar’s schedule, these are marked with the attribute “govt x-list.”

A government major may also receive elective government credit for up to two courses taken outside the department, if the course syllabus in question includes a substantial component of Political Science, Political Theory, International Relations, or Political Philosophy.   The DUS makes the decision whether to approve such courses for credit toward the government major.

Integrated Writing Requirement

Government majors complete the College Integrated Writing Requirement by practicing various political science research methods and skills across the foundational courses and within their upper-division electives.  Through short, to medium-length, assignments, they gain experience in writing data-analytic papers, policy briefs, text-based critical essays, comparative case studies, and argumentative and persuasive essays.  Learning to write for the discipline culminates in at least one required “Department Seminar”, taken during the junior or senior year, during which each major undertakes substantive research and a significantly longer paper (generally 25 pages or more) while completing the reading on the course topic.  Any course designated as a “Department Seminar” in a given semester carries the registration attribute: COL/GOVT DEPSEM.  By completing at a Department seminar, capped at fifteen students, a GOVT major  fulfills the College’s graduation requirement for an “Integrated Writing Course” in the major.  

The Government Honors Program

Government Majors who would relish the opportunity to write a senior thesis and whose GPA is 3.5 or better are encouraged to apply, in Fall of Junior year, for the Government Department Honors Program.

The Honors program begins in Spring of Junior year, and the new Honors cohort take two designated courses together.  Thus Government majors who hope to be selected for the Honors Program should not plan to study abroad in the Spring.  

During senior year, Honors students participate in a research seminar and write a Senior Thesis under supervision.  If that thesis is deemed of Honors quality, then the student graduates with Honors in the Major. 

The senior thesis fulfills (and surpasses) the Department Seminar requirement and the College requirement for one integrated Writing Course in the major.  

Study Abroad

Government Majors who study abroad may transfer up to two courses toward the Government major, with the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies [DUS].  Before study abroad, students review their proposal with the DUS.  After returning, students bring complete syllabi to the DUS who approves them for transfer credit toward the major, if the courses in question are structured as Political Science, Political Theory, International Relations, or Political Philosophy.  Students then submit to their Dean the “Transfer Credit Form” available from the College Dean’s Office.  

Transfer Students

Upon matriculation, Transfer Students who want to major in Government work with the College Dean and the DUS to decide which courses from their previous institutions may be transferred for credit toward the Government major and which may not.  To graduate from Georgetown with a major in Government, Transfer students must take at least five of their major courses at Georgetown. Upon consultation with their Dean and the Govt DUS, Transfer students who decided to study abroad may be approved to take courses that count toward the major.

Declaring the Major

Students ordinarily declare the Govt major in Spring semester of sophomore year.  The prerequisite is completion of two foundational courses with a C+ or better.  The Major Declaration process includes an orientation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies and completion of the “Major Declaration Form” available from the Dean’s Office.  During this orientation, students are assigned a Government Faculty Advisor.

More Information

Contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies with any particular questions about the major, study abroad, or transfer course credit. 

Consult the Undergraduate Program Handbook. 

The Government Minor

A. Requirements for the Minor

The Government Minor, at Georgetown, comprises six courses:  four foundational courses and two electives. The foundational courses include:

  • GOVT 1200 U.S. Political Systems (unless satisfied by a qualifying score in AP American Government and Politics)
  • GOVT 1400 Comparative Political Systems 
  • GOVT 1600 International Relations 
  • GOVT 1800 Elements of Political Theory 

[NB: With the exception of transfer students, those who minor in Government must complete the foundational courses at Georgetown.]

In addition to the foundational courses, students who want to minor in Government take two electives offered by the Government Department.

Declaring the Minor

Students may declare a minor in Government at any point after the first semester of sophomore year, by notifying their College Dean.  The DUS is happy to meet with anyone who wants to discuss minoring in Government, but such a meeting is not required. 

However, if student would like to have a course offered by another Department count for credit toward the Government minor, that requires review and approval by the DUS.  This is limited to one class. 

Study Abroad

Government Minors may take one course during Study Abroad that can count toward the Minor, provided the course is Politics, Political Science, Political Theory, or International Relations.  The Director of Undergraduate Studies [DUS] decides whether the course merits transfer credit toward the minor, upon review of the syllabus, after the student returns.

Transfer Students

Upon matriculation, Transfer students work with their Dean to decide whether courses at the previous institutions may be accepted for credit toward the Government minor.  The limit, for a Government minor, is two. 

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.