What’s the difference between Government and Social Studies?

The main difference between Government and Social Studies is that Social Studies requires a thesis, while Government does not.  Beyond that, you should think about how you want to approach your studies. The sophomore year looks quite different. In Social Studies, students take two semesters of Social Studies 10, a course focused on the texts of social science “greats.” In Government, students take Gov 97 in the spring of the sophomore year, a challenging course providing theoretical perspectives on “democracy” and introducing students both to ways of practicing “political science” and to tenured faculty in the Government Department who do research in the area. Students can and often do similar work in both Gov and Social Studies, but Social Studies has a relatively greater emphasis on social theory and interdisciplinary research. A Social Studies concentrator is expected to take the initiative, in consultation with Social Studies advisers, in designing his or her own coherent plan of study that is organized around a "focus field" and culminates in a relevant senior thesis. Thus Social Studies students often have a particular issue or problem that anchors their studies from sophomore through senior year.. By contrast, Gov concentrators are free to count for their concentration requirements any Government courses that interest them. While some have very specific interests in a subfield or area of political science, some pursue several distinct “foci” (for example political philosophy and Middle Eastern politics, or American presidential politics and the political economy of development).