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.

REQUIREMENTS: 5 courses (20 credits)

Students must take five courses in the Government department for a letter grade and pass them with a grade of B- orĀ better, except for Freshman Seminars or Gov 92r taught by Department faculty, which are graded SAT/UNS. No more than one course graded SAT/UNS may be taken for the Government Secondary Field.

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.


The five courses may include graduate courses taught by Government department faculty with the permission of the instructor.

Outside courses (Freshman Seminars, General Education courses, courses cross-listed with another Department or Harvard school, and Social Studies tutorials) will count ONLY if they are taught by Government department faculty or visiting faculty. Social Studies 10 will count only if the full year-long course is taken, and will count for one course (4 credits) towards the Government secondary field requirements.

Courses taken abroad will not be counted towards a secondary field.

Courses taken in Harvard Summer School will not be counted towards the Government secondary field, with the exception of the four foundational courses: Gov S-10, S-20, S-30, and S-40, and those courses taught by Government departmental faculty.

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

Students are not required to take a sophomore or junior tutorial. They may enroll in a tutorial if space permits; concentrators have priority.

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

The Government department has four official subfields: American politics, international relations, comparative politics, and political theory. Students taking Government as a secondary field are not required to fulfill a distribution requirement, but they may wish to focus their interests in one area or another. Models of study for the secondary field are available on the department website.


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 department Undergraduate Program Office (; 617-495-3249). The office, located at CGIS Knafel Building, Room K151, 1737 Cambridge St, is open M-F, 9:30-5:30.