The International Studies Program offers a rigorous and flexible interdisciplinary undergraduate major and minor in the Morrissey College of Arts & Sciences that helps students develop keen analytical skills and ethical reasoning amidst complex global dynamics. We invite you to investigate all this robust program has to offer, and to imagine where it can take you in your academic, professional, and personal journey.

IS Major

Students must apply and be accepted into the IS Program in order to become an IS major. There are five components to the major: taking core courses, selecting a concentration, learning a language, studying abroad, and completing a senior seminar or thesis.

IS Minor

All undergraduate students are invited to declare an International Studies minor. There is no application to be an IS minor; you need only submit a course plan that includes two foundation courses and four electives.

Frequently Asked Questions

question match your criteria

Can I focus on a specific theme as an IS major?
<p>Majors and minors in the IS Program select one of the following four concentrations, or tracks, to help them focus their interests:</p> <p>Cooperation and Conflict<br> 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.</p> <p>Ethics and Social Justice<br> 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.</p> <p>Global Cultures<br> 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.</p> <p>Political Economy and Development Studies<br> 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.</p>
<p>Can I focus on a specific theme as an IS major?<br> </p>
Can I use AP credit to help fulfill my IS major?
<p>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.</p> <p>For example:</p> <p>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.</p> <p>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.<br> If you have any questions about AP credits and the IS major or minor, contact Prof. Hiroshi Nakazato, Director of Undergraduate Studies.</p> <p><span class="btn btn-default btn-maroon"><a href="/content/bc-web/schools/mcas/sites/isp/people/faculty-profiles/hiroshi-nakazato.html">Contact Professor Hiroshi Nakazato</a></span></p>
<p>Can I use AP credit to help fulfill my IS major?<br /> </p>
How many classes does the major require?
<p>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:</p> <ul> <li>The IS Major Core (24 credits earned in 6 courses)</li> <li>An elective concentration (18 credits earned in 6 courses)</li> <li>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.)</li> <li>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.)</li> <li>Senior seminar or senior thesis (3-credit senior seminar or 6-credit senior thesis—in which 3 credits could apply to an elective concentration)<br> <br> </li> </ul> <p><a href="/content/bc-web/schools/morrissey/sites/isp/academics/major.html"><span class="btn btn-default btn-maroon">IS Major Components</span></a></p>
<p>How do I apply to be an IS major?</p>
How many classes does the minor require?
<p>The IS Minor requires&nbsp;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.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="/content/bc-web/schools/morrissey/sites/isp/academics/minor.html"><span class="btn btn-default btn-maroon">IS Minor Components</span></a></p>
<p>How many classes does the minor require?<br /> </p>
Where can I find the course substitutions form and other forms?
<p>Locate forms for course substitutions, withdrawals, pre-approvals, internships, and more on the Student Services site.&nbsp;</p> <p><span class="btn btn-default btn-gold"><a href="/content/bc-web/offices/student-services/registrar/academic-forms.html">Student Services Site</a></span></p>
<p>Where can I find the course substitutions form and other forms?<br> </p>
Which courses are approved for the IS program?
<p>Review the list of approved Fall 2024 courses or a complete list of all approved courses offered in any semester.</p> <p><span class="btn btn-default btn-gold"><a href="">Fall 2024 Courses</a></span></p> <p><span class="btn btn-default btn-gold"><a href="">Complete List of Courses</a></span></p>
<p>Which courses are approved for the IS program?<br> </p>


International Studies majors and minors are consistently recognized for academic excellence, community service, and leadership while at Boston College. We are proud to acknowlege their recognition in these and other categories.

IS Program Honors

All IS majors who complete a thesis will graduate with IS Program honors and earn a "BA in International Studies with Honors." This is distinct from Boston College academic honors such as Latin honors.

Latin Honors

Boston College awards Latin honors upon graduation to students based on cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA). Starting with the class of 2021, the cumulative average for degrees with honors will be as follows:

  • summa cum laude (with the highest honors): 3.9–4.0 GPA
  • magna cum laude (with high honors): 3.8–3.899 GPA
  • cum laude (with honors): 3.667–3.799 GPA

(Prior to the class of 2021, summa cum laude was awarded to the top 4.5 percent of the graduating class; magna cum laude to the next 9.5 percent; and cum laude to the next 15 percent).

Please contact Student Services with questions concerning graduation honors. 

Matteo Ricci, S.J. Thesis Prize

Recent winners include:

2023: Lilly Mathieu and Isabelle Jones

  • Lilly Mathieu: "Forging New Fields of Feminine Identification in Morocco: Assessments of Agency Mobilized through Motherhood and Islam"
    (Advisor: Prof. Natana DeLong-Bas)

  • Isabelle Jones: "Masking Up: A Mixed-Methods Analysis of the Spectrum of Health Security in Latin America"
    (Advisor: Prof. Jennifer Erickson)

2022: Saraphina Birtolo
“To Ignite the Firewall or Activate the Conveyor Belt: Exploring the Role of Nonviolent Islamist Organizations In Individual Radicalization”
(Advisor: Prof. Peter Krause) 

2021: Mariana Ferreira
"Why Do States Accept Refugees? A Case Study Analysis of the Latin American Policy Response to the Venezuelan Exodus" (Advisor: Prof. Jennie Purnell)

2020: Zoë Fanning 
"Civilian Healthcare under Fire: International Healthcare Intervention in Post-Cold War Armed Conflicts"
(Advisor: Prof. Jennifer Erickson)

McCarthy Prize

Scholars of the College who submit a completed and approved thesis by April 15 may be considered for a McCarthy Prize, given to the best Morrissey College thesis project in each of the Natural Sciences, the Social Sciences, and the Humanities. McCarthy Prizes are awarded at the Scholars Banquet and recognized at the University's Commencement Awards Ceremony.

Recent IS majors who won the McCarthy Prize: Isabelle Jones '23.

Phi Beta Kappa

A prestigious academic honor society founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa celebrates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and champions freedom of thought. The BC Chapter (Omicron) was chartered in 1970, and continues to invite "the very best undergraduate scholars in the College of Arts and Sciences" to join Phi Beta Kappa as members for life. 
The criteria for election are "superior scholarship and good character," with an emphasis on those students who seek out deep intellectual engagement. Thus, nearly all of the IS majors who are elected to Phi Beta Kappa are thesis writers. 
Each year this includes a strong cohort of International Studies students, including:

2024 Graduates

  • Abigail Carr ‘24 (elected '23)
  • Rongwei Zhu ‘24 (elected '23)

2023 Graduates

  • Alexandra Baker
  • Lillian Cyran
  • Mia Ferguson ‘23 (elected '22)
  • Maya Floreani
  • Sofia Frias
  • Isabelle Jones
  • Lilly Mathieu
  • Anju Sadasivam
  • Gabriel Wallen

2022 Graduates

  • Natalie Almonacid
  • Saraphina Birtolo
  • Benjamin Chieng
  • Catherine Day (IS minor)
  • Zilai Liu
  • Peyton Olszowka
  • Peter Pinto
  • Riley Casadei
  • Caroline Denning
  • Hannah Jones
  • Julia Swiatek (IS minor) 

2021 Graduates

  • Kayla Brandt (IS minior)
  • Grace Cavanagh
  • Jillian Farabaugh (IS minior)
  • Leah Hickert
  • Mahima Menghani
  • Sophia Pandelidis (elected ‘20)
  • Lucile Perrot
  • Karla Sanchez Gonzalez
  • Emma Saart (IS minior)
  • Christopher Sundaram
  • Lauren White

2020 Graduates 

  • Julia Bloechl
  • Lilah Butler
  • Jillian Cusick
  • Zoe Fanning
  • Madeline Hughes (IS minor)
  • Cameron Kasanzew
  • Chia Jung Kuo
  • Patrick O'Connell
  • Brenna Recny
  • Carolina Tiru (IS minor)

2019 Graduates

  • Margaret Andersen (IS minor)
  • Madeline BabinJulia Barrett
  • Hailey Burgess
  • Matthew Eckstein
  • Christina LaRitz
  • Pei-Ling Lee
  • Naseem Moussavian
  • Elizabeth Warner-Rousseau

Scholar of the College

Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.700 or higher are eligible to apply for the MCAS-wide Scholar of the College designation, which allows students to claim 9 or 12 credits for their thesis project, in exchange for increased expectations for depth and quality of work. Scholars of the College theses are eligible for the McCarthy Prizes (see below). 

If you are interested in pursuing a Scholar of the College thesis, speak with your faculty advisor, thesis advisor, and the IS Program thesis coordinator (Prof. Nakazato) in the Spring or Summer before senior year.

Applications for a 12-credit SOC thesis are due to the MCAS Dean's Office the the first week of the fall semester; applications for the 9-credit SOC thesis are due in mid-December.

Recent IS majors who completed a Scholar of the College theses:

  • Isabelle Jones '23
  • Wenwei (Mary) Su '22
  • Zoë Fanning '20
  • Julia Bloechl '20
  • Narintohn Luangrath '14
  • Caroline Ceriello '13
  • Kevin Savage '13
  • Chris Fitzpatrick '13
  • Kevin Moran '11
  • Sean Comber '10