Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Undergraduate Program

international studies

Table of Contents


  • Director: Robert G. Murphy, Associate Professor, Economics, Maloney Hall, Room 394, 617-552-3688,
  • Associate Director: Adjunct Assistant Professor Hiroshi Nakazato, Carney 247, 617-552-4892,
  • Program Administrator: Patricia McLaughlin, Gasson 109, 617-552-2800,

Undergraduate Program Description

The International Studies Program offers an interdisciplinary curriculum to students interested in the international aspects of Arts and Sciences disciplines. Both a major and a minor are available to qualified students. Course offerings under the Program are drawn from nearly all departments in the College of Arts and Sciences. A key goal of the Program is to provide students with the opportunity to combine insights from different disciplines so as to develop a broad understanding of international affairs. The Program encourages study abroad and advanced study of a foreign language.

Back to the top

Applying for the International Studies Major

Students are accepted into the International Studies major by application only. Admission to the major is by competitive application at the end of freshman year.  Approximately 90 students will be accepted into the major each year, after they have completed one year of study at Boston College. Admission is determined by the Academic Board of the International Studies program, which includes faculty drawn from many departments and an associate dean from the College of Arts and Sciences. Criteria for admission include academic achievement (overall GPA, rigor of the academic program, and other noteworthy aspects of academic performance), student's personal statement, and foreign language proficiency (where applicable to the proposed course of study).

The deadline for submitting applications is early May, at the end of your freshman year. The application form and further details about the program are available online at

Back to the top

Major Requirements

At least 43 credits as described below. As an Interdisciplinary major, students may choose more than one major, but in each major, the student must fulfill the minimum requirements set by the department and the school. IS major students may count no more than ONE course toward both majors, or ONE course toward a major and minor.

International Studies Core: At least 22 credits in at least 7 courses as described below.
  • INTL2500 Introduction to International Studies (4 credits)
  • ECON1131 Principles of Microeconomics (3 credits)
  • ECON1132 Principles of Macroeconomics (3 credits)
  • One Comparative Politics (POLI) Course (3 credits)
  • INTL/THEO5563 Ethics, Religion and International Politics (3 credits)
  • Two of the following History, Culture & Society courses (6 credits):
    • COMM2262/INTL2262 Online Communication & Global Society
    • ENGL4503/INTL5503 Global Englishes
    • HIST1005–1006 Asia in the World I and II
    • HIST1077/1078 Globalization I and II
    • HIST1019 Democracy, Rights & Empire
    • HIST1023 Eurasia in the World I
    • HIST1055–1056 Globalization I and II
    • HIST1059–1060 Islam and Global Modernities I and II
    • HIST1063–1064 Latin America in the World I and II
    • HIST4496 U.S. Foreign Policy II 1945-present
    • SOCY1003 Introductory Anthropology
    • SOCY1040 Global Sociology
    • THEO1161–1162 The Religious Quest
    • THEO7507 Theology of Religion
    • Upper-division history, social science, or humanities courses that are approved by the International Studies Director or Associate Director.
Disciplinary Base: At least 18 credits in at least 6 courses as described below.

Choose a Disciplinary Base in Economics, Political Science, Ethics and International Social Justice, or Global Cultural Studies.

Economics Base:
  • ECON2201 or ECON2203 Microeconomic Theory (3 credits)
  • ECON2202 or ECON2204 Macroeconomic Theory (3 credits)
  • ECON1151 or ECON1157 Statistics (4 credits)
  • ECON2228 Econometrics (4 credits) or ECON3308 Game Theory in Economics (3 credits)
  • Two electives chosen from (6 credits):
    • ECON2271 International Economic Relations
    • ECON2273 Development Economics
    • ECON2275 Economic Development: The Experience of El Salvador
    • ECON3371 International Trade
    • ECON3372 International Finance
    • INTL3374/ECON3374 Development Economics and Policy
    • ECON3375 Economic Growth and Development
    • ECON3377 The World Economy: From the Gold Standard to Globalization
Political Science Base:
  • POLI1041-1042 Fundamental Concepts of Politics and Introduction to Modern Politics (6 credits)
    Students with AP Government may substitute another POLI course for POLI1042. POLI1021 How to Rule the World may be substituted for POLI1041; POLI1061 Introduction to American Politics may be substituted for POLI1042
  • INTL3540 Research Methods in International Studies or another methods course, e.g., POLI2415 Models of Politics (3 credits)
  • Three electives in International Politics or Comparative Politics (Political Science courses numbered at the 4000 or 5000 level) (9 credits)
Ethics and International Social Justice Base:

Foundational courses—one in each of the following two areas:

  • Foundations in Moral Philosophy, Religious Ethics, or Political Theory
    Choose one of the following (3 credits):
  • PHIL4440 Historical Introduction to Western Moral Theory
    PHIL5500 Philosophy of Law
    PHIL5524 Ethics: An Introduction
    THEO2160 The Challenge of Justice
    THEO4496 The Moral Dimensions of the Christian Life
    THEO7507 Theology of Religions
    THEO7762 Christian Ethics: Major Figures
  • Foundations in the Social Sciences (providing an introduction to this approach)
    Choose one of the following (3 credits):
  • HIST3300 The Study and Writing of History (course selected with attention to its relevance to International Studies)
    INTL3540 Research Methods in International Studies
    POLI2415 Models of Politics
    POLI2422 Comparative Social Movements
    ECON2271 International Economic Relations
    ECON2273 Development Economics
    SOCY1003 Introduction to Anthropology
    SOCY1049 Social Problems
    SOCY1093 Comparative Social Change
    SOCY2210 Research Methods
    SOCY2215 Social Theory
    NURS1210 Public Health, (with relevant concentration)

Electives—select electives according to one of the following options:

Select four electives of at least 12 credits in the area of normative philosophical, theological, or normative political approaches to international affairs. Pre-approved clusters are available; courses not listed and independent clusters must be pre-approved. The twelve credits of electives should be from one cluster.

The International Normative Ethics cluster draws mostly from philosophy, theology, and related courses in other departments. The other thematic clusters draw mostly from the social sciences, including history.

Back to the top

Global Cultural Studies Base

Foundational Courses

  • Theoretical Perspectives on Culture and/or the Arts—One course in each of the following two areas:
    Choose one of the following (3 credits):

  • ARTH1109 Clues to Seeing
    COMM4442 International and Intercultural Communication
    ENGL3232 Literature and Social Change
    ENGL4551 Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory
    FILM3381 Propaganda Film
    SOCY1003 Introductory Anthropology
    SOCY1093 Comparative Social Change
  • Research Strategies and Methods for the Study of Culture
    Choose one of the following (3 credits):
  • HIST3300 Study and Writing of History (course selected with attention to its relevance to International Studies)
    INTL3540 Research Methods in International Studies
    LING2379 Language and Ethnicity
    SOCY2210 Research Methods
    SOCY2215 Social Theory
    SOCY5509 Feminist Approaches to Theory and Methodology
    SOCY5511 Ethnography and Field Research
  • Electives—Select according to one of the following options:
    • Global Culture and the Humanities Option. Four electives that examine or compare cultures through works of literature, the fine arts, theology, and/or philosophy, involving themes such as a comparative study of artistic production, literature, religious belief, epistemology, or a study of the insights and cultural functions of literature and the arts (12 credits).
    • Global Culture, History, and the Social Sciences Option. Four electives in the social sciences, history, and/or communications that focus on a thematic topic such as the study of technology, race, sexuality, business, aging, myth and symbolism, identity, or kinship in an international context (12 credits).
    • Area Option. Four electives focusing on the study of culture in one geographic region (12 credits).
Senior Year Requirements: 3 or 6 credits
  • INTL4941 International Studies Seminar (3 credits) or
  • Senior Thesis:
    • INTL4951 Senior Honors Thesis I (3 credits)
    • INTL4952 Senior Honors Thesis II (3 credits)
    • Note: INTL4951 may count as an elective toward a student's disciplinary base.

Back to the top

Minor Requirements

The minor is open to students who submit an acceptable course of study. The Carroll School of Management provides an International Studies minor specifically for CSOM students. Eligible students wishing to declare an IS Minor must do so by the first semester of their Junior year, no later than the last day of drop on or about October 3. Enrollment forms and instructions can be found on our website at The IS minor requires at least 18 credits in at least 6 courses as described below.

The International Studies minor consists of 18 credits (six courses). Students enrolling in the minor must select one of the following Thematic Concentrations:

  • International Cooperation and Conflict (ICC)
  • International Political Economy (IPE)
  • Development Studies (DS)
  • Ethics and International Social Justice* (EISJ)
  • Global Cultural Studies** (GCS)

*NB: Students wishing to follow Ethics and International Social Justice track must choose electives according to the “Clusters” outlined on our course list.

**NB: Students wishing to follow the Global Cultural Studies track must choose electives according to one of the following options: Global Culture and the Humanities option; Global Culture, History, and the Social Sciences options, and Area Studies option. Please note: In addition, there are “Suitable Clusters” within each of the three options above that the student must follow. Students must select a cluster of courses that are related.

The curriculum of the International Studies Minor is as follows:

  • Foundation Course I: INTL3510/POLI3510 Globalization (3 credits), INTL2546 World Politics, or POLI1501 Introduction to International Politics (open to freshmen and sophomores only) (3 credits) (choose one; required of all minors).
  • Foundation Course II: Students select one course from the list of courses approved for the student's chosen Thematic Concentration (3 credits).
  • Thematic Concentration Electives: Students select four elective courses from the list of courses approved for the student's chosen Thematic Concentration (12 credits).

In selecting electives, students must bear in mind the University's requirement that the six courses for the minor must come from at least three different academic departments. The specific courses approved for each Thematic Concentration are reviewed and updated regularly by the International Studies Program. For a list of courses, visit the International Studies web site at

University regulations state that students taking an Interdisciplinary minor may only double count ONE course between University core and a minor OR ONE course between student’s major and a minor.

BC's degree audit system is not currently robust enough to completely monitor compliance with the co-count rules. Therefore, a second major or a minor could be incorrectly marked on an audit as complete when it in fact is not due to unrecognized excessive co-counting.  Ordinarily such excessive co-counting is corrected manually during a final graduation check by Student Services.  Students with a second major or one or more minors should carefully monitor their course selection to insure compliance with the co-count limitation. Additional information about the International Studies Minor and an enrollment form are available on the International Studies web site at

Back to the top

Information for First Year Students

Freshmen who are considering applying to become International Studies majors in their sophomore year should consider taking the following courses to fulfill their social science University Core requirement and to fulfill the core requirement in Economics for the International Studies major:

  • ECON1131 Principles of Microeconomics
  • ECON1132 Principles of Macroeconomics

Students may also consider taking one or both of the basic courses in Political Science which fulfill Disciplinary Base requirements for Political Science track for International Studies major as well as social science requirements of the University Core.

  • POLI1041 and POLI1042  Fundamentals Concepts of Politics and Intro to Modern Politics

To enroll in POLI1041 or POLI1042 students need to declare a Political Science major.

Although the following courses are not required, they provide excellent background for the major in International Studies, fulfill University Core requirements in Theology and History, and may be used to fulfill the International Studies core requirement in History, Culture, and Society:

  • THEO1161–1162 The Religious Quest I and II
  • HIST 1005–1006 Asia in the World, HIST1019-1020 Democracy, Rights and Empire, HIST1023–1024 Eurasia in the World, HIST1055–1056 Globalization, HIST1059–1060 Islam and Global Modernities, or HIST1063–1064 Latin America in the World.

Back to the top

Information for Study Abroad

Many International Studies majors benefit from studying abroad. IS Major students can transfer up to eight (8) credits for one semester abroad and up to twelve (12) credits total for two semesters that they spend studying abroad. International Studies minors may transfer a maximum of eight (8) credits toward their International Studies minor.

Students who are contemplating writing a senior honors thesis and who will be abroad during the spring of their junior year when the normal application process for an honors thesis occurs are strongly urged to plan ahead. They should try to establish a thesis topic and identify a faculty member who is willing to supervise their work before they leave Boston College. While abroad, such students should keep in contact by e-mail with their thesis adviser.

For more information, contact Patricia McLaughlin, International Studies Program Administrator at or 617-552-2800.

Back to the top