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Undergraduate Majors

The Department of International Studies offers two degrees: the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and the Bachelor of Science (B.S.). The two degree options begin the same way, making it easy to adjust your path as your interests develop. Advanced students pursuing the B.A. also have the option of applying for the new five-year Integrated BA/MA degree.

Overall Degree Requirements

The curriculum for the BA/BS degree consists of a minimum of 120 credit hours attained through required and elective courses. Of these 120 credit hours, 42–45 credit hours are devoted to general/supportive liberal arts courses and 35 credit hours to international studies courses. The remaining required credits are earned through elective courses.

Students select a thematic concentration through which they gain an understanding of a topic or set of issues across several different cultures. They also choose a regional focus in order to develop a depth of knowledge about a particular region. All students are also required to fortify their degree through extensive foreign language study, an overseas experience, and a minor that connects to their thematic or regional focus. A final Capstone Project allows our students to integrate their interests in an in-depth research project.

Thematic Concentrations

Global Health & Environment(Core course: I202)

Drawing from social and natural sciences and humanities, this concentration focuses on theories and analytic tools useful for understanding and addressing the social, political, and economic contexts of global health and environmental issues

Global Development(Core course: I203)

Focus in on understanding how social, political, and economic processes, along with geographic and environmental considerations, shape and are shaped by development at the local, national, and global levels.

Human Rights & International Law(Core course: I204)

Focus is on social movements, the meanings of human rights and humanitarian activism, and the interpretation and enforcement of international accords on human rights at multiple scales through cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, and historical perspectives.

Culture & Politics(Core course: I205)

Focus on institutions, practices, and identity formations and their effects on world political events. Issues include the global circulation of subcultural and high art forms; museums and the cultural production of soft power; cultural heritage work as soft diplomacy; art and activism; the possibilities and limits of digital technologies. Concepts such as performance and cultural representation in global and local cultures, indigenous cultures and youth cultures offer students analytic strategies for the interpretation of and interconnection with diverse peoples and their distinctive modes of expression and being-in-the-world.

Peace & Conflict(Core course: I206)

Peace and Conflict takes students beyond conventional approaches that privilege great power politics, state sovereignties, and the material aspects of war and conflict. Instead, this multi-disciplinary concentration offers a capacious understanding of conflict as a complex process with divergent outcomes, burdens, and histories. Issues include the emergence and development of armed conflicts, war-fighting and peace-building strategies and their cumulative effects in social, political and economic spheres. Courses also focus on how analytic concepts such as nation, state, nation-state, ethnicity, race, gender, and religion have contested intellectual genealogies that resonate in the world with real consequences for peoples’ lives.

Diplomacy, Security, Governance(Core course: I210)

Focus is on understanding the evolution of international society and how states, international institutions, and non-state actors grapple with diplomatic, security, and global governance challenges.

Regional Concentrations

A region can be defined:

  • geographically
  • linguistically (example: the French-speaking world)
  • religiously (example: the Islamic world)
  • ethnically (example: the African diaspora outside the United States)

Students should consult with their academic advisor to discuss how to fit in their regional interests.

Foreign Language Study

All students in the College of Arts & Sciences must study a foreign language through the fourth semester. International Studies majors must study language for an additional two semesters. This can be more of the same language, or a new language.

Note: American Sign Language and Lakota may fulfill the foreign language requirement of the College of Arts & Sciences but not the additional foreign language requirement for International Studies.

Non-native speakers of English may establish proficiency in their native language by completing the Foreign Language Proficiency Form.

For Special Credit consult with the academic advisor to find out how to get credit in your particular language.

Overseas Experience

All International Studies majors are required to complete an overseas experience of at least six weeks, either through a study abroad program or internship. The following are some resources students may utilize when making their plans:

Most importantly, students should discuss their plans with their academic advisors, who will help with understanding options and finding appropriate resources.

Travel Warnings

International Studies follows the IU Overseas Policy regarding travel warnings and does not support or encourage travel to locations deemed unsafe by the U.S. State Department.

Capstone Seminar

All International Studies majors will complete a senior capstone course where they conduct a research project that integrates their thematic and regional interests, along with drawing from the international experience and language background. INTL-I 400 course should be taken during the fall semester of the senior year so that students have the most possible coursework and experiences to draw from in their work. Students will complete the INTL-I 315 Research Design prior to this to begin building their research skills.

Within INTL-I 400, students will select a faculty mentor who can assist them with developing the content of the paper. As students go throughout their INTL courses, they should try to build relationships with faculty with common interests as grounds for the capstone project. At the end of the semester, students will present their work, either in class or as part of the Capstone Symposium.

Preparing for INTL-I 400:

  • Build relationships with faculty who share your interests
  • Keep track of readings or resources that interest you in other classes
  • Think about how your interests relate and try to select relevant courses when possible
  • Take a look at a Sample Capstone Seminar syllabus
  • See a selection of past I400 theses titles; sample theses are available in the International Studies advisor's office.

Capstone Process

  • Students in the Capstone will conduct a signature project that would bring together their foreign language skills, study abroad experiences, and critical investigation of a specific subject area within the major.
  • Students are encouraged to take the I400 course in their semester before the last in their senior year, and are encouraged to take I315 during their junior year/before their study abroad experience.
  • The writing of the capstone thesis in International Studies is an iterative process. It is carried out with the guidance of the capstone course instructor and in consultation with the student’s designated mentor.
  • Although the faculty mentor can remain engaged throughout the project on the basis of mutual interest with the student, they should be involved in at least two phases of the process: (i) the development of a research statement; (ii) the development of a bibliography.
  • If expertise in the topic area is not available in the department, students can draw on faculty members outside the department and, if needed, on doctoral candidates with relevant areas of expertise across the campus.

Honors Thesis Track

  • Students in the Honors track are motivated by research, passionate about a specific topic, and interested in pursuing advanced study related to International Studies. These students will participate in an in-depth, rigorous research and writing experience.
  • Approval to this track is contingent on an application submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies by the end of the junior year, as well as a preliminary interview with the student.
  • Students applying to the honors track are expected to have demonstrated a sustained interest in their research topic through coursework, travel, work, and volunteer experiences; and to have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.5. Applicants will identify 2 potential faculty to serve as mentors.
  • An honors student’s thesis committee will consist of 2 faculty members: the honors instructor, and the mentor.
  • The student will make an oral defense of the thesis in the last two weeks of the semester. Should their grade be below an A-, the student would be automatically disqualified for an Honors degree.

Publishing your Thesis

Students are encouraged to submit their research paper for publication to the following journals:

  • The Undergraduate Scholar is a journal that publishes non-fiction essays from all disciplines, from art history to zoology. Each issue reflects our intellectual engagement with the political, social, moral, and aesthetic issues of both the past and present. If you have any questions or are curious about how to join the UGS staff, contact Lauren Conkling at or
  • The Indiana University Journal of Undergraduate Research. The IU Journal of Undergraduate Research is an annual, open access journal published through IUScholarWorks.

Note: Students should consult the College of Arts & Sciences Academic Bulletin to learn about their specific degree requirements, based on their date of matriculation.