Paul N. Franco, Department Chair
Lynne P. Atkinson, Department Coordinator

Professors: Paul N. Franco, Michael M. Franz†, Janet M. Martin, Christian P. Potholm, Andrew Rudalevige, Allen L. Springer, Jean M. Yarbrough†
Associate Professors: Ericka A. Albaugh, Laura A. Henry, Christopher Heurlin (Asian Studies), Henry C. W. Laurence (Asian Studies), Jeffrey S. Selinger**
Assistant Professors: Barbara Elias, Chryl N. Laird, Maron W. Sorenson, Shana M. Starobin (Environmental Studies)
Visiting Faculty: Alyssa Maraj Grahame, Michael C. Hawley, George S. Isaacson

Courses within the department are divided into three levels:

Level A Courses (Government 1000–1999)

First-Year Seminars (1000–1049)
All first-year seminars offered by the department are designed to provide an introduction to a particular aspect of government and legal studies. Students are encouraged to analyze and discuss important political concepts and issues, while developing research and writing skills. Registration is limited to sixteen first-year students in each seminar.

Introductory Lectures
Government 1100, 1400, and 1600 are large lecture courses, limited to fifty students in each, and designed to provide a substantive introduction to American politics, comparative politics, or international relations, respectively. These courses are intended for first-year students and sophomores. Others may take them only with the permission of the instructor.

Level B Courses (Government 2000–2999)

Courses are designed to introduce students to or extend their knowledge of a particular aspect of government and legal studies. Courses range from the more introductory to the more advanced. Registration is limited to thirty-five students in each course. Students should consult the individual course descriptions regarding any prerequisites.

Level C Courses (Government 3000–3999)

Courses provide seniors and juniors, with appropriate background, the opportunity to do advanced work within a specific subfield. Registration is limited to fifteen students in each seminar. These courses are not open to first-year students. Students should consult the individual course descriptions regarding any prerequisites.


Courses within the department are further divided into four subfields:

  • American politics: Government 1000–1009, 1037–1039, 1100, 2000–2199, 2700–2799, 3000–3199, and 3700–3799
  • Comparative politics: Government 1017–1029, 1400, 2300–2599, and 3300–3599
  • Political theory: Government 1007–1019, 1040–1045, 2100–2399, 2800–2899, 3100–3399, and 3800–3899
  • International relations: Government 1025–1045, 1600, 2500–2899, and 3500–3899

Requirements for the Major in Government and Legal Studies

The major consists of nine courses.

  • no more than two courses taken at Level A, no more than one of these a first-year seminar
  • a field of concentration, selected from the above list of subfields, in which at least four courses including one Level C course and no more than one Level A course are taken
  • at least one course taken in each of the three subfields outside the field of concentration

Requirements for the Minor in Government and Legal Studies

The minor consists of five courses from at least three of the departmental subfields.

  • no more than two courses taken at Level A, no more than one of these a first-year seminar

Honors Projects and Independent Study

Students seeking to graduate with honors in government and legal studies must petition the department. Interested students should contact the honors director for specific details. Students must prepare an honors paper, which is normally the product of two semesters of advanced independent study work, and have that paper approved by the department.

Only one semester of independent study work, at any level (intermediate or advanced), may count toward the major or minor. Therefore, graduation with honors normally requires a student to complete at least ten courses in the department. An advanced independent study or honors project may be used to fulfill the Level C major concentration requirement.

Additional Information

  • To fulfill major or minor requirements, a grade of C- or better must be earned in a course. Courses used to fulfill major or minor requirements must be taken for regular letter grades (not Credit/D/Fail).
  • A total of two credits from outside Bowdoin can normally be applied to the government major or minor. Only one credit can be applied (as a Level B course) to the four-course major concentration requirement. The Level C concentration requirement must be completed at Bowdoin.
  • The following courses, while not fulfilling the requirement for any of the four fields of concentration, may be counted toward the total number of courses required for the major or minor: Government 1046–1049, 2900–2969, 2990–2999, 3900–3999, 4020–4029.
  • Students who received a minimum score of four on the US Government AP exam or the Comparative Government AP exam are eligible to receive up to one general credit toward the degree after completing a Level B course in government and legal studies in the same subfield as the AP exam and earning a minimum grade of B-. If a student has scores for more than one exam, only one total credit will be awarded. In order to receive credit for AP work, students must have their scores officially reported to the Office of the Registrar by the end of their sophomore year at Bowdoin.