The Department of Government offers programs of study leading to either the Ph.D. or M.A. degree. The major fields of instruction in the Ph.D. program are: political theory, American government, comparative government, and international relations.

Master’s concentrations are offered in the fields of American Government; Democracy and Governance; Conflict Resolution; and Development, Management and Policy (Argentina Program).

Please note that the Department of Government does not offer a standalone M.A. in International Relations.  Students interested in foreign affairs should consider the MSFS program offered by the School of Foreign Service.

Our academic programs build on foreign policy, national security and regional studies and focuses on the normative and philosophical dimensions of political science and public policy, as well as disciplinary training in analytical methods and quantitative techniques. The programs also capitalize on the university’s location in Washington, D.C., and emphasize national politics, institutions and policy.

Although Ph.D. students normally specialize in one of the four major fields, they may also develop individual fields utilizing the resources of other departments or interdisciplinary resources within the University.

Degrees Offered

Joint Degree Programs:

  • Ph.D. Government (any concentration)/J.D.
  • Ph.D. Government (Comparative)/M.A. Arab Studies
  • Ph.D. Government (Comparative or International Relations)/M.A. German and European Studies
  • Ph.D. Government (Comparative)/M.A. Latin American Studies
  • Ph.D. Government (International Relations)/M.A. Security Studies
  • Ph.D. Government (Comparative)/M.A. Russian and East European Studies
  • Ph.D. Government (American, Comparative, International Studies)/M.P.P. Public Policy

Accelerated Degree Programs (Georgetown University undergraduates only)

  • A.B./M.A. Democracy & Governance

Application Deadlines

Fall 2021

December 15, 2021 (Ph.D. programs)

January 15, 2021 (M.A. programs)

Application Requirements

Please be sure to review the Graduate School Admissions How to Apply page.

Program Admissions Requirements

  • Application Form
  • Non-refundable Application Fee
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Transcripts – Applicants are required to upload to the application system copies of official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended. Visit our How to Apply (new window) page for additional details and FAQs.
  • Official Recommendations (3)
  • GRE Scores*
    • *M.A. in Democracy and Governance and M.A. in Conflict Resolution – GRE is recommended but not required
  • TOEFL/IELTS Score (please see below)
  • Writing Sample
  • CV/Resume

Please review the program website for additional information on program-specific admissions requirements (these are listed under the program descriptions below).

Although it is desirable that applicants have completed 18 undergraduate semester hours in political science, the admissions committee does not apply this credit requirement rigidly. It may accept related courses or recommend that the applicant complete courses beyond the minimum degree requirements. The Department will consider individuals from a wide diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and careers. Its key criterion for admission remains strong scholarly promise.

Statement of Purpose: A statement of purpose should discuss the following: your reasons for wanting to study in the Government Department at Georgetown University; how your research interests fit with those of the various faculty members in the Department of Government; and your long-term academic and/or professional goals. The statement of purpose should be a 500 word (approximately) essay.

Academic Writing Sample: The Department of Government requires that all applicants submit an academic writing sample. There is no minimum or maximum length to the writing sample. The average length of samples received by the Department of Government is 15 – 20 pages. This sample should be scholarly, academic in nature and perhaps of a level that is publishable. It is not mandatory but it is preferable that the writing sample be on a topic you wish to study here at Georgetown. The academic writing sample should be a single-authored work.

GRE – Graduate Record Exam: Results of the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required for Ph.D. applicants and M.A. American Government applicants and recommended for M.A. Democracy and Governance and M.A. Conflict Resolution applicants. There is no minimum required score on the GRE. Test scores must be received by the application deadline date. Georgetown University’s score reporting code is: 5244. Applicants should allow six to eight weeks from the test date for the reporting of scores to the institution. Applications will not be considered without GRE scores.  Information on registering to take the GRE can be found at:

English Proficiency (TOEFL / IELTS): All applicants are required to demonstrate a level of proficiency in the English language sufficient to meet the admission requirement of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Proficiency can be demonstrated by the receipt of a bachelor’s or advanced degree from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or from a university where English is the primary language of instruction (please note that applicants receiving degrees at universities in U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico, are required to submit the TOEFL or IELTS unless the primary language of instruction at the institution is English).

All other applicants must achieve at least a minimum score on either the TOEFL or IELTS test. Test scores must be received by the application deadline date. Applicants should allow six to eight weeks from the test date for the reporting of scores to the institution. Applications will not be considered without TOEFL/IELTS scores.

TOEFL: A minimum score of 80 (iBT test) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).  Georgetown University’s score reporting code is: 5244.  TOEFL information:

IELTS: A minimum score of 7.0 from the International English Language Testing System. IELTS Information:

Degree Requirements

Ph.D. in Government


The mission of the Government Department Ph.D. program is to provide students with the analytical skills and substantive knowledge needed to both generate and evaluate research in political science, preparing them for careers at the highest levels of scholarship and teaching. A Georgetown Ph.D. in Government signifies theoretical, methodological, and substantive expertise in various topics of political significance, as well as the research and communication skills necessary for productive scholarship.

The degree indicates that the recipient has acquired extensive knowledge in at least two fields, both typically drawn from the four major subfields of political science, but which may also include related fields such as history, security studies, or public policy. A Georgetown Ph.D. in Government is granted only to students who have demonstrated the ability to synthesize large quantities of information and rigorously evaluate the merits of competing theoretical and empirical arguments. The degree indicates that its holder has obtained the analytical and methodological skills to design and conduct original research of the highest quality. It further certifies that its holder has the written and oral communication skills necessary to engage with debates at the leading edge of the field. Individuals holding a Georgetown Ph.D. in Government are also equipped with the knowledge and skills to teach political science at the university level in both survey courses and specialized seminars.

Doctoral-level seminars taken during coursework are designed to familiarize students with the scholarly literature in at least two fields of study. Students gain a broad understanding of the development and major topics of research within these fields, as well as expertise in several more specialized areas. Students learn to evaluate and engage with the major scholarly debates in their fields of study, both in classroom discussion and in written work. All students learn the methodological skills needed to carry out original research in their respective fields.

Ph.D. students are required to take comprehensive examinations in one major and one minor field. The purpose of comprehensive examinations is to demonstrate a student’s broad familiarity with the literature in his or her fields of study. This prepares students both as professional members of a scholarly community and as future teachers at the university level. Our doctoral students write dissertations that consist of rigorous original research that contribute to our understanding of a topic of empirical importance and theoretical significance to the field of political science. Once a dissertation of high quality is complete, there is a dissertation defense at which the student presents the results of his or her research and is questioned about the implications of the work for the field of political science by the dissertation committee.

In addition to the formal requirements of the doctoral program, students are encouraged and expected to participate in opportunities for professional socialization and development. All four subfields of the department organize speaker series to host scholars from other universities and promote intellectual exchange. Doctoral students are also encouraged to attend our seminars on various aspects of the academic profession, including teaching, publishing, and the job market. Students acquire teaching skills in a number of settings. Many serve as teaching assistants for the larger undergraduate courses offered by the department, while others may have the opportunity to teach their own undergraduate-level seminars. Students may also take advantage of training seminars offered by the department, as well as the certification offered through the Apprenticeship in Teaching Program run by the Center for New Designs in Teaching and Learning. Doctoral students engage with the political science community outside of Georgetown by attending specialized seminars and presenting their research at academic conferences.


In addition to the department requirements listed below, each field has additional major- and minor-area requirements. Please visit the department’s website for more information on degree requirements.

  • Forty-eight hours of course work
  • Each student will select one major and one minor field
  • A satisfactory appraisal by department faculty at the end of the second semester and a cumulative average of “B+” or better
  • A first-year workshop
  • Five courses in theory and methods, except for those in Political Theory
  • Research competence in a second language must be proven by students in Comparative Politics, International Relations and Political Theory. Native speakers of foreign languages may fulfill the language requirement by showing fluency in English.
  • Successfully pass a Ph.D. written comprehensive examinations — students may also be required to pass an oral examination in their major field.
  • Presentation of a thesis proposal and the subsequent completion of a doctoral dissertation.
  • Up to 24 hours of work from another accredited university may count toward the Ph.D. degree. Students with a previously earned M.A. degree, which directly prepares them for the department’s Ph.D. program, may apply for advanced standing for up to 18 credit hours.

Please see for more information.

M.A. in American Government


The goal of the MA Program in American Government is to prepare students to be effective leaders in careers in the government sector broadly defined, including federal and state governments, non-profits, political organizations, the media, education, academia, think tanks and government-related private industry. Students who complete the program will be able to:

  • Understand and explain historical context of U.S. politics including the Constitution, the development of government and political institutions and contemporary political developments.
  • Understand and critique theoretical and practical approaches to major topics in American politics including: presidential politics, congressional politics, bureaucratic politics, judicial politics, environmental policy, religion and politics, mass media, public opinion, voting behavior, law and society, public policy, women and politics, federalism, statistical methodology, and political economy.
  • Analyze quantitative data effectively up to the level of regression analysis.
  • Discuss and write clearly about complex ideas in both a theoretical and professional context.
  • Ten graduate courses. This includes five electives (at least three of which should be in the American Government subfield) and five required classes: Approaches/Topics in American Politics; Analysis of Political Data; M.A. Capstone Seminars on Leadership and Process in American Government and the M.A. Paper Writing Seminar
  • Twenty to thirty hour-per-week in a graduate internship (practicum) during the spring and summer
  • Proven competence in statistics, as demonstrated by a B- or better in GOVT 501/Analysis of Political Data
  • Successful completion of a major applied research paper on a topic related to the practicum experience
  • Successful completion of every course with at least a grade of B- and an overall grade average of at least a B

Please see for more information.

M.A. in Democracy and Governance


The Master of Arts in Democracy and Governance stands at the confluence of three distinct fields: public policy, international development, and security studies. Practitioners in these three diverse areas have come to realize that effective and accountable government is central to successful programs in their field. Democratic reform and improved governance are thus not stand-alone programs, but integral to more effective government across a range of sectors. Georgetown University’s multi-disciplinary Master of Arts in Democracy and Governance Program, the most comprehensive degree of its kind in the United States, seeks to inform policies for more effective government through understanding the foundations of democracy and accountable government, translating theories into practical and effective policies, and preparing students for both careers and further study in these areas. To realize these goals, this academically demanding program requires the successful completion of 42 credit hours of coursework over two years. Leading scholars and practitioners teach classes examining the challenges that contemporary democracies face, the philosophical, social, and economic forces that have fostered political change across the globe, and the practical problems of democracy assistance and governance reform.

Beyond providing academic training, the Democracy and Governance Program advances research and policy in areas of democratic change and governance reform through the Center for Democracy and Civil Society (CDACS). CDACS publishes the biannual Democracy and Society journal, undertakes policy advocacy, and hosts speakers and conferences in areas relevant to the broad objectives of the Democracy and Governance Program.

  • At least 42 credit hours (courses numbered 350 and above), with a grade of B- or better in each course, and with an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Students may opt to complete an internship in lieu of taking two three-credit electives.
  • Subject to the approval of the Graduate School, up to six credit hours of work at another fully accredited university, and with a grade of “B” or better, may be credited toward the M.A. degree, provided that it is earned in graduate-level courses and did not count toward another degree
  • Successful completion of a comprehensive examination
  • Only courses in which students earn grades of “B-” or better may count toward the MA degree, and students must maintain an overall grade average of 3.0

Please see  for more information.

M.A. in Conflict Resolution

For more information about this program, please see the separate entry in the Graduate School catalog at and and the program website at

M.A. in Development, Management and Policy

For more information about this program, please see the separate entry in the Graduate School catalog at and the program website at