written by
Brynlee Emery

The Government Major at Georgetown

Advisor Tips 6 min read

As a prospective Georgetown student, there’s a good chance that you’re at least curious about taking one or two Government classes. As a student, I loved the flexibility of the program, the fantastic professors, and the internship opportunities around Washington, D.C. Whether you’re wondering what the differences are between the School of Foreign Service and the Government major, hoping to demystify the course requirements, or are worried about balancing classes and internships, I hope you find some answers here!

View of Georgetown campus
Kevin Dooley | Flickr
This informational essay was written by Brynlee Emery, Georgetown ‘19. If you want to get help writing your Georgetown application essays from Brynlee or other Bullseye Admissions advisors, register with Bullseye today.

What School?

Georgetown has four undergraduate colleges, and when I was applying, I was torn between applying to the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) and Georgetown College. A few of my students have struggled with the same question. There’s certainly no right or wrong answer—the two programs have considerable crossover and many classes include both Government and SFS students—but there are some differences.

The SFS aims to give its students a multidisciplinary background in international affairs. Students take classes in foreign languages, economics, history, science, and (of course) international relations, usually with an emphasis on a particular region or country. For example, you could take classes in Arabic and on Middle Eastern history, politics, and culture. There is often room for some elective courses through the College, but the core curriculum and major requirements will encompass most of your course load.

Georgetown's campus and the potomac
ehpien | Flickr

On the other hand, Georgetown College is much more flexible, and the Government major has a wider scope. You can absolutely still take classes in international relations, but the program also has strengths in political theory and American politics, as well as opportunities to study the relationship between government and other disciplines. I should note—the Government major is not a political science major.

Political science tends to focus more on quantitative research that is rooted in the present day. Government at Georgetown is a humanities-based approach to studying the theory and practice of government. Ultimately, this broader scope appealed to me, and I chose to apply to Georgetown College.

Government Major Requirements

To major in Government, Georgetown requires a total of ten courses. First, students take one introductory course in each of the four topic areas: U.S. political systems, comparative political systems, international relations, and political theory. Then, students choose six additional courses to finish the major. You can choose to informally focus on one or two of the four subject areas, but there is no requirement that you pick a concentration within the major. The only limits on your choice of electives is that one must be an advanced political theory class, and one must be a “department seminar.”

Scotland’s First Minister at Georgetown | Flickr

Department seminars are specialized, advanced courses that emphasize discussion with professors who are experts in the field. You may have even heard some of their names before—Donna Brazile, E.J. Dionne, and Madeleine Albright all teach advanced seminars from time to time. Georgetown usually offers several department seminars in each of the four areas every semester.

I took my seminar on twentieth-century Chinese politics. Other offerings include seminars on the Supreme Court, refugee policy, the theory of liberalism, and many more. Most students take these seminars as juniors or seniors, and there’s no requirement that you finish all your other major classes first.

I definitely recommend taking your four required classes as early as possible, and keeping an eye out for a department seminar that interests you as soon as you have the space—seminars usually aren’t repeated every semester, or even every year! With that said, be sure and keep an open mind as well. Some of my favorite classes were ones that initially felt out of my comfort zone.

Can I double major? What else can I do?

One of my favorite things about the Government major was its flexibility. Georgetown requires a total of 38 courses to graduate, and the government major only includes ten. That means you have at least 28 other courses at your disposal to study a foreign language, take a wider variety of classes, or add another major, minor, or certificate.

Photo courtesy Georgetown University

I decided to add a second major in History as well as a minor in English. I loved how much my classes reinforced each other across multiple disciplines. When I was researching the development of U.S. immigration policies for a history class, I was so glad I had already taken a class on Congressional policymaking in the Government department!

Most of the other Government majors I knew also chose a second major—from English to Economics, Theology to Math, and just about everything in between. There are also additional opportunities within the Government department. During your junior year you can apply for the Government Honors program and, if accepted, write a thesis in cooperation with a faculty mentor over the next three semesters.

Georgetown also has two BA/MA dual degrees if you want to get a head start on grad school. If that interests you, just be aware that you will need to take the GRE by the end of the fall semester of your junior year. Finally, the Government Special Courses are a fantastic and unique resource. The Prison Reform Project is one of the most popular due to the opportunity for students to work on overturning wrongful convictions cases.

What about internships?

Being in Washington, D.C., Georgetown makes it easy for students to supplement the theoretical knowledge from their classes with practical experience. Many students “hilltern” with a Senator or Representative during their time at Georgetown, and many more complete internships with government agencies, museums, nonprofits, think tanks, and other institutions before they graduate.

Living in D.C. year-round means that Georgetown students can often fit in more internships than would be possible if they could only stay for the summer. I did four internships during my time as a student. Because two of those took place during the school year, I was still able to study abroad one summer.

Photo courtesy Georgetown University

Internships helped me to figure out what career options I liked and didn’t like, which in turn helped me to choose classes that were more relevant to what I wanted to do after graduation. Although internships don’t count for direct course credit at Georgetown, you can enroll in a 1-credit class called “College Internship Experience” during the same semester of your internship that will be applied to your degree requirements. Credit aside, internships can be a great way to inform your class choices and prepare you for your career after graduation.

Government is the most popular major in Georgetown College, and with good reason. Plenty of graduates go on to study law, public policy, or foreign service, but Government majors end up in almost any field you can dream up. If you think Government at Georgetown might be right for you, start thinking now about all the ways you can make it work for your goals!

Warren LeMay | Flickr

This informational essay was written by Brynlee Emery, Georgetown ‘19. If you want to get help writing your Georgetown application essays from Brynlee or other Bullseye Admissions advisors, register with Bullseye today.

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