International Relations Overview

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2020-2021, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on April 1, 2020. Access the catalog of record at

  • The International Relations (IR) 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. Graduates from the IR 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 and international affairs. Students should note that courses counted toward another major/minor cannot also be counted toward the International Relations major or minor and that the department does not accept on-line transfer credits toward the major/minor.

Study Abroad

In order to complement their academic training with first-hand experience in a foreign country, IR majors are required to complete three units outside the United States. These units may be lower or upper division in any academic discipline. This requirement does not add to the overall number of units required for the major.  USD offers a wide array of study abroad opportunities during the fall and spring semesters, January intersession, and summer. No more than six units from non-USD faculty-led study abroad courses may be applied to the IR major or minor.

USD Internship Program

Students are encouraged to participate in an internship while at USD. An internship provides an opportunity to gain practical, “real world” experience that gives depth and understanding to political issues and concepts discussed in the classroom. It also provides an opportunity to experience political and administrative activities, which may suggest future career possibilities. Students may enroll in up to six internship units, but no more than three units (POLS 436, 448, 486, 498) may be counted toward the IR major or minor.

USD/Washington Center Intersession Seminar and Internship Semester

Students have the opportunity to enroll in a 3-unit intersession course (POLS 400) in Washington, D.C. This course provides students with an opportunity to study current political, social, and economic issues while living in Washington, D.C. for two weeks in January.

University of San Diego students have the opportunity to earn academic credit in a semester or summer-long internship program in Washington, D.C. These experiences are coordinated through the Political Science and International Relations Department and The Washington Center, a nationally recognized internship program that pioneered the development of full-time internships in the nation’s capital. The internship program combines real-world work experience with academic learning in a unique environment that fosters success and achievement. Students earn 12 semester units for participating in a full-time fall or spring semester program, and 6 to 9 units in the summer. Students may enroll in up to six internship units, but no more than three units (POLS 436, 448, 486, 498) may be counted toward the IR major or minor.

The Department of Political Science and International Relations offers two majors. For information on the Political Science major, please see the Political Science section of this catalog.