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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.
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.
- SAT - Georgetown's SAT code is 5244. Georgetown only considers the critical reading and math portions of the SAT, not the writing section. If an applicant takes the SAT more than once, the admissions committees will consider the highest critical reading score and the highest math score from multiple test sessions when reviewing the application.
- ACT - Georgetown's ACT code is 0668. Georgetown accepts the ACT in lieu of the SAT. Applicants who take the ACT more than once will have their highest composite score considered in the evaluation process. The optional writing section on the ACT is not required, nor is the writing subscore used in the application review process.
- SAT Subject Tests - It is strongly recommended that all candidates, whether they have taken the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT, submit three SAT Subject Tests scores. The scores from writing portion on the SAT Reasoning Test and the optional writing portion of the ACT will not be used in place of a Subject Test.
- TOEFL - Georgetown's TOEFL code is 5244. TOEFL is recommended for candidates studying in non-U.S. educational systems and whose native language is not English. Georgetown also does accept results from the IELTS. Please contact either the Educational Testing Service (ETS) or the American College Testing Program (ACT) for details about this exam.
- If you will graduate from a school with a final examination such as the British A-Levels, Cambridge Pre-U, German Abitaur, French Baccalaureat, or International Baccalaureate, you will need to submit both Projected and Final results. These should be included in the Secondary School Report sent from your college counselor, teacher or the Head of School.
Georgetown University is Need-Blind for all applicants.
Admitted students who have requested financial aid and are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents will be considered for a very limited number of need-based scholarships. To be considered for one of these scholarships, the student/applicant will need to indicate their intent to apply for financial aid on the Application for Undergraduate Admission and should submit a CSS/Financial Aid Profile online at http://www.collegeboard.com. For further details, please see the Office of Student Financial Services website.
Whether admitted either under our Early Action or Regular Decision review periods, all candidates for financial aid will be notified about their eligibility for aid, their financial aid awards or about missing documents during the first week of April.
Please note that we are now using the CSS/Financial Aid Profile in place of the International Student Financial Aid form.