International Studies Major

Connolly House

There are five components to the IS major:

  1. Taking the IS major core courses
  2. Selecting a concentration
  3. Learning a language (or two)
  4. Studying abroad
  5. Completing a senior seminar or thesis

The section below outlines the graduation requirements for students majoring in International Studies, information that is also provided in the video posted on our Admission page. Specific and detailed information about major requirements is provided in our Academic Advising Handbook.

Once accepted into the program, majors should use the Major Course Plan to plan their curriculum, and may need to use the new digital forms for course substitutions (used when you need an elective to count toward your IS major/minor), course withdrawals or pre-approvals, internship approvals, leaves of absence, etc. that are posted on the Registrar's Academic Forms page

IS Core Courses

Where on Earth? Foundations in Global History
INTL 2202 + discussion section

  • 3 credits; fall semester of sophomore year

Where on Earth? Foundations in Global Culture and Political Geography
INTL 2204 + Geography studio/lab 

  • 3 credits; fall semester of sophomore year

Introduction to International Relations
INTL 2501 + discussion section

  • 4 credits; spring semester of sophomore year

One designated Comparative Politics course
POLI x4xx

  • 3 credits; any semester

Principles of Economics
ECON 1101 + discussion section

  • 4 credits; any semester
  • Students with a score of 5 on both Microeconomics and Macroeconomics AP exams may skip ECON 1101, but they are required to take another Economics elective (ECON 2xxx) in its place.
  • Students with a score of 5 on either AP Microeconomics or Macroeconmics, but not both, are required to complete the IS core Economic requirement through Principles of Economics (ECON 1101).
  • Note for class of 2020 majors: Students who took either ECON 1131 (Principles of Microeconomics) or ECON 1132 (Principles of Macroeconomics) should take the alternate course your senior year.

An approved Economics elective
ECON 2xxx or, with proper Econonmics pre-requisites, ECON 3xxx

  • 3 credits; any semester after Principles of Economics
  • If you'd like to apply a 3000-level Econ course to this IS major requirement, please confirm with Prof. Nakazato 

Ethics, Religion, and International Politics
INTL 5563 + discussion section

  • 4 credits; usually taken after studying abroad


IS majors focus their interests in one of four interdisciplinary concentrations, in which they will take two foundations courses and four electives from an approved list (see the Courses page for details)..

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 world 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 frameworks for relating ethics to contemporary international affairs, as well as specific areas of international politics where ethical questions are likely to arise, including sovereignty, terrorism, peacemaking, human rights, economic justice, and the use of force in war or humanitarian interventions. Students will have the opportunity to explore the role of religion and motivations of social justice in the interaction between state and non-state actors.

Global Cultures

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 projects for change form through 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.

Please note: Majors and minors who concentrate in Global Cultures should take only those electives that are pre-approved for their cluster ("Cultures at Work" or "Cultures and Social Movements"). Students can seek approval to count other courses -- including courses from the other cluster -- as electives by sending a course abstract and/or syllabus to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (Prof. Nakazato) before the first week of that class (and ideally during registration period).


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. Students choose a cluster within the concentration that emphasizes either political economy (PE) or development studies (DS).  

Please note: Majors and minors who concentrate in Political Economy and Development Studies can take electives approved for EITHER the PE or DS cluster and count them for their own cluster.  Students can seek approval to count other courses as electives by sending a course abstract and/or syllabus to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (Prof. Nakazato) before the first week of that class (and ideally during registration period).

Language Requirement

IS majors must demonstrate advanced proficiency in one modern foreign language or intermediate proficiency in two modern foreign languages. IS minors must demonstrate intermediate-level proficiency in a modern foreign language. See the language requirement page for details on what these terms mean and how you can satisfy the requirement.

Study Abroad

IS majors are expected to study abroad for a semester, but are not required to do so. Nearly 90% of our majors study abroad for a summer, semester, or year. Those who do not -- either because they are international students at BC, or for economic, personal, or athletic reasons -- can take advantage of other opportunities to engage with international students, use their language skills, and meet people and groups from around the world (through the Global Engagement Portal, for example). See our Study Abroad page for more details.

Senior Seminar / Thesis

Seniors complete their IS major by choosing either to take a one-semester senior research seminar or to write a year-long senior thesis with a faculty member. See the Courses page for a list of senior seminars, and the Thesis page for details about writing a thesis.