The mission of the Government and Law Department within the College’s liberal arts tradition is:

  • to educate students in the theories, processes, institutions, and historical development of domestic and global politics, law, and governance
  • to provide students with intellectual tools and knowledge for informed citizenship and political participation
  • to provide students with a sound basis for pursuing further study or undertaking professions in government, public policy, law, nongovernmental organizations, and related fields
  • to promote faculty research

Requirements for the Major

Ten courses within the department, including:

  • three of the four introductory courses (Govt 101, 102, 103, 104*)
  • exposure to each of the four subfields** (American Politics, International Politics, Comparative Politics, Political Theory)
  • exposure beyond the introductory level to at least three of the four subfields**
  • two 400-level seminars, or one 400-level seminar and an honors thesis***.

*Because all upper-level political theory courses require Introduction to Political Theory as a prerequisite, majors should plan to take Govt 104.

**Some courses are designated as providing exposure toward more than one subfield. To fulfill the exposure requirements, students who take a course designated as satisfying two subfields can count that course toward either of the identified subfields, but not toward both.

***A Government and Law honors thesis proceeds over two semesters (GOVT 495 and GOVT 496); only one of those courses can count toward the ten courses required for completion of the major.

Keep track of your major requirements by filling out the Govt and Law Major Worksheet.

View a listing of course offerings by subfield designation here.

Requirements for the Minor

There are three ways to complete a minor in Government and Law.  Students may pursue one of the following options:

  1. A general minor—three introductory courses and three courses above the 100-level in the respective subfields of the three introductory courses.
  2. A subfield/concentration minor—one introductory course and five other courses in the same subfield.
  3. A thematic minor—six courses focusing on a self-designed theme. A student pursuing a thematic minor must provide to the department head a brief statement explaining the rationale for the thematic minor and a list of courses from which the student would choose to complete of the minor.

All students pursuing a minor must submit a petition form to the Registrar, signed by the student’s academic adviser and the Government and Law department head.

Government and Law Honors Thesis

Students who meet minimum GPA requirements may be eligible to pursue an honors thesis in government and law.
Learn more about the honors thesis.


Students may be eligible to receive course credit for fieldwork with a government agency, law firm, political campaign, news organization, or NGO.
Learn more about earning credit for an internship.

Coordinate majors

Government and law with religion, and foreign languages and literatures
Learn more about the coordinate majors.