International Relations

The International Relations (IR) concentration is a rigorous program that combines student choice with cross-disciplinary training in international and comparative perspective. The IR curriculum emphasizes:

  1. a solid grounding in the methods of analysis used in the social sciences and humanities to help students think critically about international phenomena,
  2. the exploration of the empirical and the normative domains of the subject, and
  3. flexibility to allow students to customize their IR concentration.

The objective is to foster creative thinking about pressing global problems and equip students with the analytic tools, language expertise, and cross-cultural understanding to guide them in that process. To this end, the concentration draws on numerous departments including political science, history, economics, anthropology, sociology, psychology, religion, and environmental studies, and has a 3-year language requirement.

The IR concentration is organized around a multidisciplinary core and two sub-themes: security and society, and political economy and society. It offers a quality honors program in which students undertake thesis research on an international topic. The concentration is located within and draws upon the expertise of the Watson Institute for International Studies, a research and policy-oriented center whose faculty come from many different countries and international agencies.


The IR concentration requires 14 courses and the equivalent of 3 years study of a second language.

  1. The core courses (5 courses): Required for all students, preferably to be taken during their freshman or sophomore years. These five courses provide a multidisciplinary, conceptual basis for approaching international relations. Advanced Placement credit does not count toward the concentration. The five courses are:

  2. The Tracks (5 courses from ONE track distributed between the sub-themes): (This is only a subset of the more comprehensive list of applicable courses.)

  3. Security and Society:

    Political Economy and Society:

  4. Regional Focus (2 courses): Both courses must be on the same area. Content must build on track of study. Students are required to link these with language study.

  5. Research Methods (1 course) Prior to 7th semester. Quantitative or qualitative course from approved list.

  6. Senior Capstone (1 course):
  7. Language Requirement: Three full years of university study or equivalent (see IR website). Must correspond to region.

  8. Study Abroad: Strongly Recommended.

Detailed lists of courses that satisfy these requirements may be obtained from the IR program website:

The program has a director, an associate director/concentration advisor, and a faculty advisor for each track to assist students in planning their academic programs.

Page last updated in October, 2012.

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