William & Mary

Declaring a Government Major

Required Credit Hours:


Major Computing Requirement:

Students must satisfy a Major Computer Proficiency Requirement in Government by successfully completing Government 301 (as of Fall, 2008, this requirement can not be met in any other way and there are no exemptions).

Major Writing Requirement:

The Major Writing Requirement is fulfilled by obtaining a grade of “C-” or better in any course numbered above 400, except Government 494, 495 and 496.

Core Requirements:
  • Government 201 – Introduction to American Government

  • Government 203 – Introduction to Comparative Politics

  • Government 204 – Introduction to International Politics

  • One of the following courses in political theory:

  • Government 303, 304, 305, or 392

  • Government 301 - Research Methods

  • One upper-level Government seminar numbered between 401 and 491

Students planning to major in Government are strongly advised to complete Government 201, 203 and 204 before junior year.

No more than two of the following courses may be counted toward a major in Government: Government 381, 382 and 384. One freshman seminar in Government may be counted toward the Government major.

It is recommended that majors complete Economics 101, 102 and carry their foreign language study beyond the minimum general education requirements.

The Department does not offer a Minor.

Get info on seeking course credit for summer internships.

Why should you declare a major in Government?

There are lots of good reasons (indeed, too many for the entire internet to hold), but please bear in mind that Government is the study of political science, not just politics or current events. There are other majors that overlap (in some cases substantially) with Government.

When should you declare?

You may declare a major once you have completed 39 credits (including credits you had when admitted, e.g. AP or transfer credit, provided these show up on your Banner); this is normally the spring semester of sophomore year, though it may be earlier in some cases. You must declare a major once you have completed 54 credits (or you will not be allowed to register for courses for the following semester). You need not necessarily have taken a Government course at the College before declaring.

Who should be your advisor?

You may ask any fulltime Government faculty member to be your advisor (not those listed as Visiting, Adjunct or Emeritus, please). If your Freshman advisor was in this Department, you may ask him or her to serve as your major advisor, but you may also ask someone else. It is possible that the professor you first ask may be on leave of absence or otherwise unable to help that semester; if you do not have another person in mind, feel free to ask the Department Secretary in Room 10 for help.

If once you have declared, you need to or would like to change advisors, you may do so by getting approval from your new advisor; you must fill out a Change of Advisor form (PDF) and get his/her signature. You do not need approval from your previous advisor to make such a change. Note: You do not need to fill out this forms in order simply to shift from your freshman advisor to your major advisor.)

How should you prepare?

It will save you and your advisor time if you fill in the first page of the declaration form before meeting, above all putting down (perhaps in pencil) courses that you believe will satisfy your Proficiency and GER requirements (consult your DARS form). It also helps to pencil in future courses on the reverse side of the form; though this schedule is not binding in any sense, it tells the Advising Office that you know what courses you will still need to fulfill proficiency, GER and major requirements (it helps to check the catalog to see the semester in which courses you need are likely to be offered).

What form needs to be filled out to declare?

Declaration/Change of Major Form (PDF)