Political science is a highly diverse field united around a core interest.  Political scientists study power, and especially power used for public purposes:  how it is created, organized, distributed, justified, used, resisted, and sometimes destroyed.  They study power both normatively and empirically.  They study it in different settings:  within states, among states, and in spaces that states do not (or no longer) control.  They consider past as well as contemporary patterns.  They use a wide array of approaches and methods to gain leverage on the even wider array of questions they pose.

Planning Your Major

The field of Government, or Political Science, is divided into four main "subfields." These are American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory/Public Law. We also have courses that cover Political Analysis.  The course numbers for these areas are as follows:

  • American Politics (Intro. 3, Midlevels 30's, Seminars 83's)

  • Comparative Politics (Intro. 4, Midlevels 40's, Seminars 84's)

  • International Relations (Intro. 5, Midlevels 50's, Seminars 85's)

  • Political Theory/Public Law (Intro. 6, Midlevels 60's, Seminars 86's)

  • Political Analysis (Prerequisite 10; Midlevels courses 11 – 19)

  • Courses that Cross-Subfields (Midlevels 20's, Seminars 81's)

The Department of Government offers courses at several different levels:

  • Prerequisite: a course in the statistics and methods of social sciences (GOVT 10 or its equivalents).
  • Introductory courses: The Department offers four courses (GOVT 3, 4, 5, and 6), designed to provide an overview of each of the four subfields in Government: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory & Law. Introductory courses are generally designed to be taken as the first courses in the major and usually not later than the end of a student's second year.
  • Midlevel courses: Courses that explore specific topics in Government in greater depth (these courses are assigned numbers between 11 and 69).
  • Seminar courses: Advanced, discussion-based, research and writing-intensive courses (these courses are assigned numbers between 80 and 86). Seminars are generally designed to be taken in a student's third or fourth years.
  • Upper-level courses: Any course except for introductory or prerequisite courses

To plan your Government Major or Minor, please use the following Major Plan of Study Forms:

  • Major Plan of Study Form
  • Minor Plan of Study Form

You are welcome to see a faculty member for guidance on selecting courses.

For classes of 2016 and beyond - Enter your major plan in Dartworks for review and approval. If you have question, please check the Registrar's Guide.


The Modified Major - Politics, Philosophy, and Economics

The Department of Government offers three Modified Government Majors:

  • For those combining Government with Economics, the transcript will read, "Government Modified with Economics";
  • For those combining Government with Philosophy, the transcript will read, "Government Modified with Philosophy"; and
  • For those combining Government, Philosophy, and Economics, the transcript will read, "Government Modified".

In order to plan your Government Modified Major, please use the following study forms:

  • Major Plan of Study Form - Government Modified with Economics
  • Major Plan of StudyForm  - Government Modified with Philosophy
  • Major Plan of Study Form- Government Modified

You cannot declare a PPE modified major on DartWorks until you first do the following:

1) Complete one of the study forms above, listing all past, present, and future courses. For the most up-to-date listings of future course offerings, see the Philosophy, Economics, and Government websites. Your future course selections may change, but you must show a complete path through the modified major. ATTENTION: Only study forms currently posted on the Government Department website will be approved.

2) Do not forget to circle one of the "10" courses as a prerequisite.

3) Once your modified major study form is complete, please submit it to Professor Murphy via email for approval:

4) If approved, Professor Murphy will forward your study form to the Department Administrator who can help you declare your PPE major on Dartworks.

5) If you have further questions about these PPE majors or about how to complete your study form, please email Professor Murphy. We can arrange a meeting if necessary.

6) Every year, we revise and update the information available in this study form. Sometimes the departments make changes between the revisions. Please check the government, economics, and philosophy departments' websites for updated information.

Apart from these three pre-set modified majors, no other modified Government majors will be approved under any circumstances. This includes both Modified Majors in which Government is the primary component (e.g., Government Modified with History) and those in which it is the secondary component (e.g., History Modified with Government). Students who seek to modify a Major in another department with courses in Government may do so by using the option of a Modified Major without indication of the secondary department (e.g. History Modified).

Faculty and Their Advising Fields

Choosing your major advisor:

We do not assign advisors to our majors. Instead, we encourage all interested students and declared majors to review the current list of our faculty and contact someone whose research interests align with your own. Further information about each professor may be found under people.

​Faculty Advising Fields ​


Special Provisions

  • The prerequisite to the Government major is one course in statistics and the methods of social science. The department recommends that majors fulfill this requirement with Government 10, when possible, but QSS 15, Economics 10, Math 10, LING 10, PSYC 10, or SOCY 10 are also accepted.

  • Under College policy, Government 7 (First-Year Seminar) may not be counted toward the major or minor.

  • Transfer Credit information:

    •  Transfer students will normally be expected to complete at least five of the ten courses required for the major (or at least four of the seven courses required for the minor) on campus, or in courses taught by members of the Department.
    • Students should be aware that transfer credits may not qualify for the modified majors (transfer credits for courses in the Economics Department are never accepted for the Government Modified With Economics major). Students considering using transfer credits for any of the modified majors must contact the Government department to verify that the course will be accepted.
  • Unlike other Departments whose higher course numbers indicate advanced level, Government courses numbered 11-79 are all midlevel courses. Higher numbers simply indicate different subfields.

  • Faculty legislation prohibits any course overlap among majors and/or minors. Although a course may be part of one major and prerequisite to the other, or prerequisite to each major. For more information see the ORC/Catalog.

  • Major GPA is figured on all Government courses taken (not including the pre-requisites), but those counted towards other majors or minors. The modified majors GPA is figured using the courses listed in the modified major plan (not including the pre-requisites).

  • No Government courses may be taken under the NRO. Courses from other departments taken under the Non-Recorded Option may not be counted toward the government major, minor, or modified majors.

  • Courses offered in other departments that satisfy the requirements of modified government majors normally DO NOT qualify for the unmodified government major. Therefore, students should consider the decision to undertake a modified major carefully, since reverting to the unmodified major is likely to require taking additional government courses.