Overview of Advising in Government

ADVISING IN THE HOUSES: Concentration Advisers (CAs)

The Department of Government has a House-based advising system. Each House has a Government Concentration Adviser who is the official adviser for all Government concentrators who live there. Usually the CA is also a Resident Tutor, but if there is no Government resident tutor, another CA will be officially assigned to the House and he/she will hold office hours and information sessions in that House.

Whenever you have a question about requirements, course selection, the direction of your program—whatever it might be—please contact your CA. In addition to signing your study card and most other forms, your CA will serve as your primary resource in the Undergraduate Program. While anyone in the Undergraduate Program Office is available to help you, we strongly encourage you make an effort to meet with your assigned CA so that you will be able to call upon an adviser in the department who knows you. Each CA has regular weekly in-House office hours and can be reached by email.


Because sophomore spring is such an important time for decision-making about your particular path through the Government concentration, the Department builds an extra “layer” of advising into sophomore tutorial. In addition to the house CAs, the teaching fellows in Gov 97 have official advising duties. Each Gov 97 tutor is responsible for two individual meetings with each student in his or her tutorial to discuss the student’s academic interests and plans. 


Staff and Faculty with offices in the Undergraduate Program Office on the first floor of the CGIS Knafel building are always happy to see Government concentrators and those interested in joining the Department. They can provide a wealth of information about the concentration and can always get you hooked up with the right person for whatever it is you need.

Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies   - Karen Kaletka oversees the administrative functioning of the Undergraduate Program Office.  She is happy to answer your questions about your progress in the concentration, provide details about the Honors/Thesis program, and answer general advising questions.  She can be reached at her office at 1737 Cambridge St., K151B via email or 6-8528.

Student Services Staff Assistant – Tricia Vio  is the person whose friendly voice you will first hear when you call the office. She is here to answer any questions you might have about the Undergraduate Program or to put you in touch with the person or persons who can be most helpful to your specific questions or concerns. She is also the person to contact to make an appointment with the DUS via email or 5-3249.

Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies – George Soroka is a Lecturer on Government and the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies (ADUS). To make an appointment with the ADUS during his office hours, call him at 5-9890 or email him.

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Cheryl Welch is a Senior Lecturer on Government and the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in the Government Department. She holds regularly scheduled office hours every week during the term and is available for advising during these hours. To make an appointment with the DUS during her office hours, call 5-3249 or e-mail Tricia Vio.

Although your assigned CA or Gov 97 TF is your primary advising link with the Department, either the DUS, or Undergraduate Program Office staff members are happy to talk to you about your particular path through the Government Department or other advising issues. In addition, you must have the explicit approval of the DUS in the following cases:

  • Before you enroll in courses outside the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (e.g. another Harvard school such as GSE or another university such as M.I.T.), if you wish to get concentration credit for these courses. Note that there is a list of pre-approved HKS courses that you may automatically use for Government elective credit, but you still need to get the signature of the DUS on your cross-registration form in order to get the credit.
  • Before you enroll in courses in a study abroad program.
  • If you wish to have a senior thesis adviser from outside the Department of Government.
  • If you wish to make the case that certain courses not specifically listed as counting for Government concentration credit should be so counted (“petitioning”).

Peer Concentration Counselors (PCCs)

The Peer Concentration Counselors are upperclassmen in the department who have volunteered to act as peer advisers for other Government concentrators, as well as for potential concentrators. You can find their contact information and bios on the PCC page of our website.

General Faculty Advising

You should consider all the professors in the department as supplementary advising resources for you. What this means is that you are free to go to any professor at any time during his or her office hours to talk about your interests in political science, whether or not you have taken a course with that professor.  Students frequently report feeling shy about doing this, but faculty members welcome talking to undergraduates and will be happy to see you in their office hours..  Faculty office hours are posted on the Government Department website every term.  Keep in mind that you should go to a Concentration Adviser (CA), the DUS, or a staff member in the Undergraduate Program Office for specific advice on department requirements and regulations.  Don't depend on faculty members for this!  Government professors know many things, but the specific points of the undergraduate concentration requirements are not always among them. The supplementary advising that faculty members can offer may include, for instance, suggestions about academic sources for a research project you have under way, or advice about grad schools, or recommendations about good courses to take on topics that interest you.  Sometimes faculty members are looking for undergraduate research assistants to work on their current projects, and so they may also be able to offer you research experience in an area that interests you.

Senior thesis advisers

If you decide to write a senior thesis, one of the first things you will need to do is find a thesis adviser: either a faculty member or an advanced graduate student with teaching experience in the Department.  Here again, you should consider all faculty members in the Department (who are not on leave) to be potential thesis advisers, and you should make a point of going to office hours to talk with all those whose interests are close to your own. Advising styles vary, but in general what you can expect from your thesis adviser is guidance through the early stages of identifying a worthy question and a sound methodological approach, and feedback on drafts of your thesis chapters. Consult “A Guide to Writing a Senior Thesis in Government” and talk to your CA and the DUS or ADUS for more advice on finding the right thesis adviser.

Here are a couple of other advising resources that you should keep in mind:

Thesis writers' seminar for seniors (Gov 99): meets regularly throughout the year to provide advising and support for seniors who are in the process of writing a thesis.

Thesis writers' workshops for juniors: meet throughout the spring term to help juniors who are planning to write a thesis get ready for their projects.