Frequently Asked Questions
The International Studies Program offers a flexible and rigorous interdisciplinary undergraduate major and minor in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences that develops keen analytical skills and ethical reasoning amidst complex global dynamics. IS Majors take a rigorous set of core courses in the IS Program, continue with six courses in one of four concentrations, then study abroad, and write a senior research paper or senior seminar. IS Minors take one core course before pursuing a concentration with one foundational course and four electives.
Enrollment in the major is by competitive application, submitted in early February of Freshman year. Transfer students who enter BC in their sophomore year may apply during the summer. See application details here.
Enrollment in the IS minor is open to all students who file a course plan, which outlines how they will meet the minor's requirements, by the end of before the end of the Drop/Add period in October of their Junior year. We also welcome declarations of the IS minor in freshman or sophomore year. We encourage prospective IS minors to read about the minor requirements and visit with a Peer Advisor or faculty advisor to help the craft their course plan. When completed, the course plan should be submitted to Ms. Patricia Joyce in Gasson 104.
Yes. Both IS majors and IS minors have a language proficiency requirement, but they differ:
All IS majors, regardless of their school (MCAS, CSOM, LSOE, CSON), must demonstrate advanced proficiency in one modern foreign language or intermediate proficiency in two modern foreign languages by the time of their graduation. Advanced proficiency will be met by taking at least two courses beyond the intermediate level of a modern foreign language. Read about the details here.
All IS minors, regardless of school (MCAS, CSOM, LSOE, CSON), must demonstrate intermediate-level proficiency in one modern foreign language. Read about the details here.
Increased investment from the University has allowed the IS Program to expand to its current maximum of 105 students per year. Over a six-year period, the number of students accepted has risen from 88 students in the class of 2016 to 95 in the class of 2019, to 105 in the class of 2022. At present that corresponds to a major cohort of about 280 students in total (across three class years).
The IS major requires a total of 45 credits in 13 approved courses, plus certification of language proficiency. Nearly 90% of our students also study abroad. The curricular components of the IS major include:
- The IS Major Core (24 credits earned in 6 courses)
- An elective concentration (18 credits earned in 6 courses)
- Language proficiency (Advanced proficiency in one modern language or intermediate proficiency in two modern languages. The language requirement is co-curriculuar: language classes do not count as courses in the IS major, though the proficiency they foster is a requirement.)
- Study abroad (Students can transfer up to 2 classes or 8 credits from abroad in one semester, or 12 credits across a full year, usually toward their elective track.)
- Senior seminar or senior thesis (3-credit senior seminar or 6-credit senior thesis -- in which 3 credits could apply to an elective concentration)
In short, AP credits can be used to demonstrate language proficiency and can offer exemptions from a specific course that counts for our major, but AP credits will not reduce the number of courses needed to fulfill the core or elective requirments -- they simply allow students to take a higher-level course in its place.
- To test out of our core Economics requirement (Principles of Economics, ECON1101), students must have earned an AP score of 4 or 5 on BOTH the Micro Principles AP exam and the Macro Principles AP exam. Students testing out of ECON 1101 in this manner are still required to complete the IS core Economic requirement by taking two Economics courses at the 2000-level or above.
- Students with AP scores of 4 or 5 in only one of those two courses (Principles of Microeconomics or Principles of Macroeconomics) are required to complete ECON 1101 and a 2000-level Economics course, like all majors.
If you have any questions about AP credits and the IS major or minor, contact Prof. Hiroshi Nakazato, Director of Undergraduate Studies.
The IS Minor requires six courses: two foundation courses, then four electives chosen from among four concentrations: Conflict and Cooperation; Ethics and Socail Justice; Global Cultures; or Political Economy and Development Studies.
Yes! International Studies majors and minors are strongly encouraged to spend at least a semester abroad, but BC offers study abroad programs ranging from one week to an entire academic year. Nearly 90% of our majors study abroad for a summer or semester. See our Study Abroad section, and visit the Office of International Programs for details.
Majors and minors in the IS Program select one of the following four concentrations, or tracks, to help them focus their interests:
Cooperation and Conflict
This concentration considers fundamental theoretical and empirical questions about the study of cooperation and conflict in international affairs, including the causes of wars, revolutions, and terrorism; the consequences of international and domestic actors’ attempts at reconciliation; the role of arms control, intelligence, international institutions, global governance, and grand strategy; and sources of state and individual security and insecurity. Every war is unique, every peace different, and students will have ample opportunity to study historic and contemporary cases from around the world. At the same time, students will approach war, peace, and security as general social phenomena and examine shared features and dynamics across cases and theoretical perspectives.
Ethics and Social Justice
This concentration considers religious and secular ethical frameworks for international affairs, as well as areas of international politics that reveal specific ethical issue, including sovereignty, terrorism, peacemaking, human rights, economic justice, and the use of force in war or humanitarian interventions. Students will also explore the role of religion and motivations of social justice in the interaction between state and non-state actors.
This concentration considers two dimensions of culture-making and community in a globally connected world. In the “Cultures at Work” cluster, students examine professional cultural production, engaging with critical inquiry into culture as both a complex meaning-making activity and as commodities central to the global economy. In the “Cultures and Social Movements” cluster, students examine how communities and movements form by cultivating and deploying shared social, cultural, religious, political, and economic resources. Global Cultures concentrators may elect to complete a 1-credit elective internship either in the creation of a cultural product or in grassroots mobilization and other participatory approaches to issues of global importance and cultural representation.
Political Economy and Development Studies
This concentration considers the interplay between politics and economics in determining interactions among states, markets, and societies, both in the developed and developing world. Students will gain an understanding of the economic, political, and moral stakes in international public policy issues and develop the ability to analyze policy choices. A central focus of the concentration is improvement in human well‐being, especially, though not exclusively, in the context of developing countries including those in Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Latin America.
In addition to the academic advising conducted by our faculty advisors, program staff, and Peer Advisors, we encourage students to take advantage of the many campus resources listed here related to academic support; mental health; physical health/disability; gender and sexuality; mindfulness and spiritual counseling/communities; and support groups.