A degree in Government and Political Economy equips students with theoretical and practical knowledge concerning many different dimensions of politics, including:
- Domestic political institution 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.
These subfields reflect customary divisions in the academic discipline of Political Science, but, because most important themes (such as democratization, electoral politics, warfare, and trade adjustment) transcend these labels, students in the Department do not declare a specific subfield concentration. While some students take a majority of their upper-level classes within one or two subfields, other students focus on particular issues that defy subfield boundaries, and still others prefer to survey a wide variety of topics across different subfields.
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 gain sufficient exposure to these different ways of studying politics to make informed decisions about which specific methodological skills they are most interested in pursuing; most develop some level of competency in more than one. But, in order to ensure a better 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.
Contacts and Links
The Directors of Undergraduate Studies are Professor Mark Rom
and Professor Dan Nexon. Please see the Directors of Undergraduate Studies to declare your major and request approval for studying abroad.
Students are also encouraged to discuss the major and their particular interests with their faculty adviser and the Field Chairs within the major. They are:
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.
Government majors are required to take ten courses in their major: four introductory courses and six electives. The required introductory courses are:
- International Relations (GOVT-006);
- U.S. Political Systems (GOVT-008);
- Elements of Political Theory (GOVT-117); and
- Comparative Political Systems (GOVT-121)
The electives are organized into the four aforementioned subfields: 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: IR, Field: CG; Field PT; Field: PECO for subfields American Government, International Relations, Comparative Government, Political Theory and Political Economy, respectively.
Math-006, Math-040, or AP credits for these courses may count for one elective. The Department encourages majors to take either Math-006 or Math-040, which will count toward both the General Education requirement as well as the major.
During the junior or senior year, students are required to take one Department Seminar, a small class with a full-time faculty member that centers on research and writing skills. These seminars, which count as one of the six electives, will be indicated in the semester course listings as “Department Seminar:” or “DEP SEM:” on the Registrar’s course listings.
Students can receive credit towards their major for no more than two courses taken outside of Georgetown University, unless the student is a transfer student. Transfer students who wish to major in Government may receive credit for up to five political science courses taken at another college or university. It is strongly recommended that students take the four required introductory courses (i.e., 006, 008, 117, and 121) 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-008.
The Department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies assigns an advisor 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-006, 008, 117, and 121) 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.
Students who minor in government must take the four introductory courses of the Government major and any two electives. Students can credit 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.
The Government Honors Program is an intensive, three-semester program of closely mentored research and writing that culminates in a Senior Honors Thesis. As part of the program, students take an advanced seminar in Political Theory and a course on Scope and Methods of Political Science in the spring of the junior year. Students then prepare a thesis proposal in the fall of their senior year (as participants in the Honors Research Seminar) and complete the thesis (in consultation with their mentor) in the spring. Students defend their work in an oral examination at the conclusion of their last semester. Aside from a waiver of the elective in political theory, students are expected to meet all the normal requirements for the major. Prerequisites for the program include a declared government major and a minimum GPA of 3.5 overall and in government courses. A call for applications from interested Juniors is issued in the fall.
Students may take no more than four of the six electives in any one of the four subfields and must include at least on in political theory. All majors are encouraged to take Govt 229: Introduction to Quantitative Methods. This course is required for honors students and will count as a Government elective for majors. During the junior or senior year, students are required to take one Department Seminar, which will count as one of the six electives.
Still have questions? Need a signature for your major declaration, study abroad, or transfer credit forms? Please talk to either of our Directors of Undergraduate Studies - Professor Mark Rom
and Professor Dan Nexon
Intercultural Center 681
Washington, DC 20057-1034
Phone (202) 687-6130
Fax (202) 687-5858