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International Relations

Graduates from the International Relations program are well prepared for careers in government, private industry, law, education and the nonprofit sector, as well as for graduate study in political science or international affairs.

Summary of Curriculum

The International Relations major is an interdisciplinary field of study designed for students who seek a holistic understanding of international affairs. The curriculum is rooted in political science and provides students with a strong background in international relations and comparative government.

At the same time, the curriculum reflects the recognition that international political phenomena are best understood from a variety of perspectives and includes courses from disciplines such as history, economics, religious studies, fine arts and literature.

Study Abroad Requirement

Students must take at least 3 units outside the United States, as part of a study abroad experience. These units may be in any academic discipline, and may be either upper division or lower division units. This requirement does not add to the overall number of units required in the major. No more than 6 units from non-USD faculty led study abroad courses may be applied toward Section B of the major or toward the minor. 

Careers in International Relations

The International Relations Major is recommended as a field of study for students seeking careers abroad in government or in private industry, as teachers, and for those seeking careers in journalism, law and related field, or intending to pursue graduate studies. The major consists of 33 upper division units (under the 2010-14 course catalogs) and 42 units (under the 2014-16 course catalog) selected in consultation with an advisor from the Political Science faculty.

International Relations Research Seminar

International Relations majors have the option of taking an International Relations Research Seminar, offered each Fall. This will help students to conduct research and write scholarly papers on a variety of international and/or comparative political topics.

  • All Honors Students who are International Relations majors are required to enroll in the Research Seminar the semester before their Honors Thesis seminar.
  • All International Relations majors who plan to go on to graduate school are strongly encouraged to enroll in the Research Seminar during their junior or senior year.
  • All students who would like to write a senior thesis, or who want to conduct independent research in international relations, should enroll in the Research Seminar in lieu of independent study.