The purposes of the major are to increase general knowledge about the history, institutions, interactions, and events of the international system; to develop insight into the objectives, decisions, and policies of state and nonstate actors; to provide a conceptual vocabulary and diverse theoretical perspectives to help explain and interpret international behavior; to build skills in critical analysis and evaluation of global issues; to develop an appreciation of commensurability and difference and acceptance of "others"; and to encourage evaluation and the solving of global problems.

The international relations major provides a general education for students seeking greater knowledge about world affairs. It also provides a sound preparation for students interested in pursuing an M.A. or Ph.D. in international relations and related social sciences or a J.D. in law, and for careers in the Foreign Service, the federal government, international law, international business, banking and finance, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. International relations alumni have been accepted to the top graduate programs and law schools in the country, and are well represented in all of the listed international careers.

Specific Requirements

The Course Catalog provides detailed information about specific major and minor requirements. Course lists are available showing which courses count towards the area concentrations and thematic tracks.


Students with high grade point averages or a scholarly bent are encouraged to apply for honors in international relations or to conduct research with a faculty member.

Study Abroad

One semester of study abroad is strongly recommended in a country within the area concentration and where the language being used for the language requirement is spoken or in a study abroad program compatible with the selected thematic track. Off-campus study in Washington, D.C., including the Washington Semester or Washington Center, also is recommended, but not as highly as overseas study. Students should contact the Office of International Education for information about off-campus study.


The department encourages students to pursue summer internships in positions related to international relations. Students have interned in embassies abroad, as well as in government agencies in Washington, D.C.

Preparing for Graduate Study

Students planning to pursue graduate study in international relations should consider taking a course in statistics, computer science, and microeconomics and macroeconomics.


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