Curriculum Overview 

The Government major is designed to prepare and enrich students for their professional lives and their roles as active citizens and leaders. The department has a long tradition of encouraging its majors to think conceptually about politics and to immerse themselves in their political environment through internships, civic activism, study abroad and service learning.

Students in Government study the processes by which societies make collective decisions, explore the theoretical and ethical foundation of political action, raise critical questions about the nature and use of power and examine how societies and international systems attempt to address basic problems of liberty, equality and order. As a complement to coursework in the major, students develop skills in language, economics, mathematics or philosophy.

A major in Government consists of ten courses in Government and a three course Cognate. Requirements are:

  • GOV 100;
  • GOV 120;
  • GOV 130;
  • GOV 241 or 242;
  • GOV 250;
  • four electives, of which at least two must be at the 300-level or above;
  • one 400-level Government seminar (taken at Franklin & Marshall).


Also required is the completion of one of the following Cognates:

  • PHI (three courses, at least two of which must be at the 200-level or higher);
  • MAT (any three courses not counting 105 or 116);
  • Foreign Language (three courses in a new language or three courses beginning where the student is placed);
  • ECO (100, 103, plus a 200-level course that is approved in advance by the Government Chair); or
  • one full semester of study abroad at a College-approved program.


Prospective majors are encouraged to begin planning for the Major by the first semester of their sophomore year. To declare a major, students must have taken at least one Government course and have taken or be planning to take one Cognate course by the first semester of junior year. GOV 250 should be completed no later than the first semester of the junior year.

Students considering study abroad should contact the Office of International Programs.

For students completing the Government major, MAT 116, MAT 216, BIO 210, ECO 210, BOS 250, PSY 230 or SOC 302 may be substituted for GOV 250.

Students intending to major in both Public Health and Government may not apply more than three Government courses toward the second major.

To be considered for honors in Government, students must have a major GPA of at least 3.30 at the end of their seventh semester, complete a two-semester Independent Study project and defend it in an oral exam. The project must include an original argument that is placed in the context of other scholarship. An award of honors will be made by the committee for projects that demonstrate originality, intellectual engagement and depth of understanding of the topic.

Please note as well, that the numbering system for Government courses corresponds to the following subfield divisions: x00 – x19 (American Politics); x20 – x29 (Comparative Government); x30 – x39 (International Relations); x40 – x49 (Political Theory); x50 – x59 (Political Research).

Majors in Government have participated in the following off-campus study programs in recent years: Washington semester, American University, Washington, D.C.; F&M in Paris, Paris, France; Butler University and other programs in London and Oxford, UK; International Education of Students (IES) in Barcelona, Spain and Buenos Aires, Argentina. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

Courses Offered 
A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement. 

Topics Courses & Seminars Expected to be Offered in 2014-2015


Topics Courses 

Fall 2014

  • 372. Democratic Theory.

Spring 2014

  • 370. 21st Century Security.

Senior Seminars

Fall 2014

  • 411. Presidential Character.
  • 471. Power, Strategy, and Security.


Spring 2015

  • 412. Political Parties.
  • 472. Postwar Japanese Politics and Society.
  • 474. Political Virtue and Political Vice.