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.

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


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, Upper-Levels 30's, Seminars 83's)
  • Comparative Politics (Intro. 4, Upper-Levels 40's, Seminars 84's)
  • International Relations (Intro. 5, Upper-Levels 50's, Seminars 85's)
  • Political Theory/Public Law (Intro. 6, Upper-Levels 60's, Seminars 86's)
  • Political Analysis (Prerequisite 10; Upper-Level courses 11 – 19)
  • Courses that Cross-Subfields (Upper-Levels 20's, Seminars 81's)

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 Degree Works for review and approval.


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

Before declaring your modified major, please meet with Prof. James B. Murphy for guidance on selecting courses and modified major pre-approval.

Faculty advisor for government modified major:

Prof. James B. Murphy - Office: Silsby 206

Office Hours:

Mondays 9:00 am to 10:00 am, and

Thursdays 11:00 am to 12:00 pm

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).

Special Provisions

  • The prerequisite to the Government major is one course in statistics and the methods of social science: Government 10, Economics 10, or Math 10.  Another course in statistics and the methods of social science may be substituted for Government 10, with permission of the department chair, in consultation with the full-time department faculty members who teach Government 10. Advanced Placement (AP) credit for Mathematics 10 or other AP courses may not be used to substitute for the prerequisite for the Major, effective with the class of 2023.
  • 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.
  • Unlike other Departments whose higher course numbers indicate advanced level, Government courses numbered 11-79 are all of intermediate level. Higher numbers simply indicate different subfields.
  • No course may count toward both the Major and a Minor.
  • Major GPA is figured on all Government courses taken (not including the pre-requisites), but the ones counted towards other majors or minors.
  • 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.