Study Abroad

The Government Department encourages its concentrators to study abroad. Living in a foreign country and gaining fluency in another language not only are valuable parts of a liberal education, but also can lead to a better understanding of the keys concerns of political science.

The first step in any plan to study abroad, whether during term time or summer, is to consult with the Office of International Education. It is located at 1414 Massachusetts Avenue, 3rd floor and can also be reached at (617) 496-2722, or The OIE maintains a list of approved programs and a database of reviews by returning Harvard students.

Once you have one or more programs in mind, the next step is to meet with the Government DUS for a conversation to make sure that your plan of study makes sense, given your intellectual interests and aims.  For example, if you intend to write a thesis, you may need to plan carefully to make sure that you have time to take the required Gov 94 seminar(s), to find a thesis adviser, and to meet any thesis funding deadlines. The DUS is the only person who can sign the “Approval of Term-Time Study Abroad Plan” or “Approval of Summer Study Abroad” forms giving preliminary approval for courses that will count towards the concentration in Government. (Note: you must also get the signature of your House Allston Burr Resident Dean.) Normally only two courses taken in any one semester abroad will be approved for concentration credit and these are generally electives, rather than courses that count for subfield or seminar credit. Normally, only one course taken in the summer, whether abroad or at Harvard, may count towards your Government concentration requirements. Note also that the DUS approves only courses for concentration credit. The Government Department does not decide which courses meet the standards for Harvard transfer credit, or whether a course may count towards the General Education requirements.

Once abroad, you may find that you need to change your preliminary course selection. Students in this situation should enter any changes through the Study Abroad portal. It is in your interest to keep the Government Undergraduate Program and the OIE informed of all course changes as they occur. 

To receive final approval for concentration credit, you must earn a B- or better in each course. The OIE and the Department will receive a copy of your final transcript. Study abroad courses do not show up individually on a student’s Harvard record/transcript, so they cannot count toward your concentration or overall GPA, even if they have been approved by the DUS for concentration credit and there are grades on the study abroad transcript.