The Department of Government is an umbrella for a remarkable range of political subjects and approaches to studying them. The department is an umbrella, in part, because political science is not a unified discipline. It stands at the cross-roads of history, law, economics, sociology, philosophy, and ethics. It borrows from these disciplines and constructs theories and methods of its own. Government department faculty teach about China and statistical methods, civic virtue (and corruption), and the logic of congressional committee structures. Like our students, our research is inspired by many things: by the personal experience of participation; by moral outrage; by commitment to exploring a political problem; or by fascination with a model for explaining, measuring, or predicting political outcomes. 

Against this background, a secondary field in Government is not one single thing. We encourage students with either specific or eclectic political interests to explore our courses and faculty. There are good reasons to range across areas, institutions, ages, and countries. For students with a focused interest, it may be best to assemble courses that cohere around a single subject or approach. For some students that may mean taking all their courses in a single subfield, such as American politics. Others with a focused interest may construct a program that includes courses from several subfields that are united by subject: perhaps Africa, or international political economy, or political ethics. Models of study for the secondary field are available on the department website. 

REQUIREMENTS: 5 courses (20 credits) 

Students must take 5 courses in the Government Department: 

All courses must be taken for a letter grade and passed with a grade of B- or better, except for courses graded SAT/UNSAT (such as Gov 92r or a Freshman Seminar offered by a Government department faculty member).   

Only one course grade SAT/UNSAT may be counted towards the secondary. 

No courses taken Pass/Fail may count towards the secondary. 

No more than two foundational courses (Gov 10, 20, 30, and Gov 40) will be counted toward a secondary field; three courses must be 50 or above. 

Gov 91r (Supervised Reading and Research) cannot be used to fulfill Government secondary field requirements. 

Most courses outside the Government Department do not count for the secondary field. For instance, no HKS classes can be used toward the secondary-field requirement.  


Unlike the requirements for Government primary concentrators, all courses taken for the Government secondary field must have a “Gov” number (except for Gov 91r, which counts for neither the primary nor the secondary field). In addition, there are a small number of outside courses taught by Government Department Faculty that may count towards the secondary field:  

FS 42r, FS 70u, FS 71h, FS 71l, FS 71w, GenEd 1008, GenEd 1052, GenEd 1058, GenEd 1119, Soc Stud 98hp, Soc Stud 98nu, Soc Stud 98ox, Soc Stud 98rd. Please note that this list is different than the list of courses available to concentrators for concentration credit. 

The following classes are no longer offered, but count for the secondary field if previously taken: EMR 13, ER 22, ER 39, ER 44, FS 30v, Soc Stud 98oa, Soc Stud 98of, SW 15, SW 50, USW 15, USW 20, USW 31. 

Petitions of any kind for exceptions to Government secondary field requirements will not be accepted. 

Secondary concentrators can count only one Harvard Summer School Government course, taught on campus by a Harvard Government Department faculty member, towards their secondary concentration in Government. 

Gov 91r (Supervised Reading and Research) cannot be used to fulfill Government secondary field requirements. 

Please note that these secondary field requirements differ from those for Government primary concentrators. 


Advising for those with a secondary field in Government will be done through the Undergraduate Program Office and our regular undergraduate advising staff including the Director of Undergraduate Studies, the Concentration Advisers, and administrators. Students interested in pursuing a secondary field in Government or those who have any questions or concerns regarding the secondary field should contact the Government Undergraduate Program Office (; 617-495-3249). The office, located at CGIS Knafel Building, Room K151, 1737 Cambridge St., is open for drop-in advising M-F, 10am -5pm.