FAQ

Is the list of courses that meet secondary-field requirements the same as the list of courses that meet the concentration "elective" requirements?

No. Only courses in the Government Department, and a small number of outside courses taught by Government Department faculty, may be used toward the secondary field requirements. Many of the courses outside the Department that concentrators take for elective credit (for instance, courses at the Harvard Kennedy School) cannot be used toward the secondary field.

If you are interested in the...

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Can I drop the thesis if I need to?

Yes, you may. Each year, whether due to having picked a topic that proves intractable to research or deciding that other commitments are more pressing, a small number (usually not more than 10%) of thesis writers abandon their thesis project. If you know you will not continue to write past the Fall term, complete the requirements for that semester’s Gov 99 and do not register for 99 in the Spring term (it is divisible for precisely this reason). However, if you register for the second half of Gov 99 and do not drop it by the Add/Drop deadline, you’ve committed to handing in a thesis in...

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What is the role of Gov 99 in the thesis-writing process?

Gov 99 is meant to help you write the thesis in three main ways: 1) by providing deadlines to keep you on track and get your writing; 2) by focusing on peer-review of your work; 3) and by building a small and supportive community of individuals who are in the same boat as you are.

The Department takes Gov 99 seriously, which is why only faculty members and the most experienced TF are selected to teach this course. In general, you should think of it as playing a supporting role to the advice and mentoring you get from your primary adviser. A good way of thinking about this is...

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What are the “right” reasons for writing a senior thesis?

The “right” reasons for writing are many: the satisfaction of digging deep into a topic and seeing a long capstone project through; proving to a PhD admissions committee you “have what it takes” to become a professional academic; taking that last opportunity before finding a job to explore something you’re really passionate about; and yes, even just to get the highest level of honors you can.

 

However, there are other ways to make your last year at Harvard memorable, and these may even be a better use of your time. The point is, only you can determine if...

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If I am doing Government as a secondary field, how many Gov courses can I double count with other requirements?

You are limited to counting only one course for your Secondary Field and your primary concentration.  However, you may double-count more than one Secondary Field course with other programs, such as Gen Ed or language citations. See the Secondary Fields website for more information. Read more about If I am doing Government as a secondary field, how many Gov courses can I double count with other requirements?