Message from the Director

Erik Owens

Welcome, and thank you for your interest in the International Studies Program at Boston College. Founded in the mid-1990s, the IS Program has enjoyed remarkable growth in the past 10 years in particular. In 2018 we were cited in BC’s Strategic Plan as a key area of investment in its push to enhance global engagement, and we see the results of that investment in new faculty, expanded course offerings, and new opportunities for study abroad. The IS Program consistently ranks among the top 10 most popular majors and minors at BC in terms of size, with approximately 275 majors and 125 minors in 2019.

What makes our program special? When we survey students and alumni about the IS Program, they consistently highlight the fact that it is rigorous, flexible, interdisciplinary, and global.

The rigor in our program rests both in the structure and the content of our curriculum. IS majors are admitted on the basis of a competitive application, submitted in early February of their Freshman year; transfer students may apply in the summer before they transfer into their sophomore year at BC. Our core courses provide a crucial interdisciplinary foundation for advanced work in a selected concentration and on a senior capstone research project. We require fifteen more academic credits (roughly five additional courses) in our core and elective tracks than most other majors; we require a higher level of language proficiency than the university requires (advanced proficiency in one modern foreign language, or intermediate proficiency in two modern foreign languages); nearly 90% of our majors study abroad (compared to about half of all BC students); and our majors are required to complete their studies with an advanced research seminar or a senior thesis.

Our flexibility shows in the many choices students have to develop their interests within one of four concentrations (Conflict and Cooperation, Ethics & Social Justice, Global Cultures, and Political Economy & Development Studies), and to focus their expertise within those concentrations by taking four clustered electives drawn from across the university that suit their intellectual interests and professional needs.

Our interdisciplinary curriculum regularly draws courses and faculty from more than ten academic departments across the Morrissey College of Arts & Sciences, and our four concentrations (noted above) are structured around interdisciplinary themes that require students to critically engage different ways of thinking and problem-solving on crucial issues.

Finally, our program is global, not just in the content of the coursework but also in the places our students study, travel, and work. Almost ninety percent of our majors study abroad as part of their academic program, and a substantial portion (in 2017, twenty five percent) of our graduates live outside the United States in the year after graduation for work, volunteer service, or graduate school.

Where will the International Studies Program take you? We can’t wait to find out.

Erik Owens