Courses of Study 2015-2016 
    Oct 20, 2018  
Courses of Study 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


In the College of Arts and Sciences .

 Course Offerings  

“Government” is what Cornell calls a department that elsewhere is usually termed political science. The focus of this discipline is power applied to public purposes. Some faculty concentrate on purposes, some on applications. Some engage in the close reading of classic texts of political philosophy, while others analyze the behavior of power-wielders and publics in this and other societies. Government is divided into four subfields: American government, comparative politics (other nations), political theory (philosophy), and international relations (transactions between nations).



M. Jones-Correa, chair; C. Way, assoc. chair; S. Kreps, director of graduate studies; T. Pepinksy, director of undergraduate studies; D. Bateman, R. Bensel, V. Bunce, A. Carlson, B. Corrigan, P. Enns, M. Evangelista, G. Flores- Macias, J. Frank, J.A. Frank, S. Garcia-Rios, R. Herring, P. Katzenstein, J. Kirshner, M. Krewel, A. Kuo, A. Levine, A. Little, A. Livingston, J. Margulies, A. Mertha, S. Mettler, J. Michener, Y. Orlov, K. Roberts, D. Rubenstein, E. Sanders, M. Shefter, A. M. Smith, N. T. Uphoff, N. van de Walle, S. Ward

The Major

To be admitted to the major, a student must pass two Cornell government courses.

To complete the major, a student must:

  1. pass two of the introductory government courses (GOVT 1111 , GOVT 1313 , GOVT 1615 , GOVT 1817 );
  2. pass an additional course in one of the following subfields: American government (AM), comparative government (CP), political theory (PT), or international relations (IR). This course may be any course offered in the government department, including introductory courses, upper-level courses, or seminars but must be a minimum of 3 credits. Students are strongly advised to take at least one course in each of the four subfields;
  3. accumulate an additional 28 credits of government course work at the 3000-level or above;
  4. complete at least one seminar-style course in government (which can be applied toward the 28 credits). These courses include those numbered 4000.XX; and other 4000-level GOVT courses in which no more than 15 students are enrolled and must be taught by government faculty. Cornell in Washington seminars can count toward this requirement if taught by a Government faculty member.
  5. all courses used to fulfill a government major must be passed with a letter grade of C minus or above. No courses with S–U grades can be used toward the major.

To summarize, a total of 10 government courses are required to complete the major. For more information about the government major, please visit our website:

Major Seminars. Fall or spring. 4 credits. These seminars, emphasizing important controversies in the discipline, cap the majors’ experience. Thus preference in admission is given to majors over nonmajors and seniors over juniors. Topics and instructors change each semester. For more information, please visit “Guide to the Undergraduate Major in Government” on

Honors. Application to the honors program is made in the early spring of the second semester of a student’s junior year. For more information about the honors program and an application form, please visit

First-Year Writing Seminars. Consult the John S. Knight Institute website for times, instructors, and descriptions.

Related Programs

Cornell in Washington Program. Government majors may apply to the Cornell in Washington Program which offers students in all colleges an opportunity to earn full academic credit for a semester in Washington, D.C. Students take part in small seminars led by Cornell faculty, gain work experience through an internship, and carry out individual research projects while living in Cornell housing in the heart of Washington, D.C. Learn more about Cornell in Washington, Semester Program .

European Studies Minor. Government majors may elect to group some of their required and optional courses in the area of European studies, drawing from a wide variety of courses in relevant departments. Students are invited to consult Jason Hecht, Associate Director of European Studies for advice on course selection and foreign study programs or visit

International Relations Minor. See the description under