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.

Area Concentrations

Options include Africa, Asia, Europe, Eurasia and Russia, Latin America and Caribbean and the Middle East.

Thematic Tracks

Complementing the Area Concentrations are the four thematic tracks. Each track exposes the students to a particular set of issues, problems, and solutions that cut across geographic areas.

Global Governance and Conflict Resolution
In this track, courses focus on the way in which states, international institutions, non-state actors, and transnational networks act to coordinate, regulate, and intervene to address problems commonly affecting the international community. The track also includes courses that address the sources of both conflict and conflict avoidance.

Foreign Policy and Diplomacy
In this track, courses focus on the policies and processes of states as they pursue their national goals in relationship to other actors and international problems. A number of courses, while not focusing on states, focus on issues of central concern to states in the international community.

Sustainability and Development
In this track, courses address the economic and social development of humanity with the understanding that economic growth must be in balance with our natural resources and ecosystems.

Culture and Identity
In this track, courses cover issues in international relations related to culture and identity, such as power, gender, sexuality, feminism, violence, migration and immigration, popular culture, literature, borders, poverty, mobility and social actions.

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 with a particular scholarly interest are encouraged to pursue honors by writing an honors thesis.

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. 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.