Students must apply and be accepted into the IS Program in order to become an IS major. Once accepted into the program, majors should use the Major Course Plan to plan their curriculum.

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 application will ask you to choose one of our four concentrations; to list your primary thematic and/or geographic interests, and the languages you speak and/or intend to study; and to write two short essays, one about an urgent global issue and one about why you want to be an IS major. 

The responses you give on your IS major application are the most important factor we use to admit students into the major, but your grades and the courses taken your first semester play a role as well.  To prepare for your application, we encourage students to read about the IS major requirements and talk with current IS majors; you might consider starting with our Peer Advisors, or with members of the International Studies Student Association. Be sure you understand the major’s requirements for coursework and language proficiency.

We encourage freshmen to enroll in a first-semester class or two that takes up international issues and/or is taught by an IS faculty member. Your application will ask you to list a faculty member who can give you a reference, so we encourage you to get to know a faculty member, rather than simply list the professor who gave you the best grade of the semester. There are no specific courses you need to have taken to apply for the IS major, but there are some introductory courses you will need to complete it that also count for the University Core requirements, and others that will give you a good foundation for our program. Some examples of courses we recommend for first-year students:

  • A full year of language study 
  • A comparative politics course in the political science department (this will count toward your IS major);
  • Principles of Economics (this will count toward your IS major);
  • An interdisciplinary "Complex Problems" or "Enduring Questions" course in the BC Core that has a strong international dimension; some Fall 2020 examples include "Geographies of Imperialism"; "Planet in Peril"; "Violence and Representation in the African Diaspora"; "Beyond Price: Markets, Cultures, Values"; "Making the Modern World"; "Environmental Migrations."
  • Other courses that inspire you!

Remember that the IS major is just one part of your University experience; we understand that your first semester may not put primary focus on IS-related courses, but taking some of the above will help you determine if you are interested in these topics and if you're ready to flourish in the rigorous academic program we offer. 

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).

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.

Language Requirement

All students completing the IS major, regardless of school (MCAS, CSOM, Lynch, etc.) must demonstrate advanced proficiency in one modern foreign language or intermediate proficiency in two modern foreign languages. This is a more strenuous requirement than the MCAS minimum, and it must be met by all majors.

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.

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).

Frequently Asked Questions

question match your criteria

How do I apply to be an IS major?
<p>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.</p> <p><span class="btn btn-default btn-maroon"><a href="/content/bc-web/schools/morrissey/sites/isp/academics/major.html#admission">Major Admission</a></span></p>
<p>How do I apply to be an IS major?</p>
How do I enroll in the IS minor?
<p>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, 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&nbsp;read about the minor requirements&nbsp;and&nbsp;visit with a Peer Advisor&nbsp;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.</p> <p><span class="btn btn-default btn-maroon"><a href="">Minor Requirements</a></span></p>
<p>How do I enroll in the IS minor?<br /> </p>
How many people are accepted into the major?
<p>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).<br> </p>
<p>How many people are accepted into the major?<br> </p>
Is there a language proficiency requirement?
<p>Yes. Both IS majors and IS minors have a language proficiency requirement, but they differ:</p> <p>All&nbsp;IS majors, regardless of their school (MCAS, CSOM, LSOE, CSON), must demonstrate&nbsp;advanced proficiency&nbsp;in one modern foreign language&nbsp;or&nbsp;intermediate proficiency in two modern foreign languages&nbsp;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.&nbsp;</p> <p>All IS minors, regardless of school (MCAS, CSOM, LSOE, CSON), must demonstrate&nbsp;intermediate-level proficiency in one modern foreign&nbsp;language.&nbsp;</p> <p><span class="btn btn-default btn-maroon"><a href="/content/bc-web/schools/morrissey/sites/isp/academics/major.html#tab-language_requirement">IS Major Language Requirements</a></span></p> <p><a href="/content/bc-web/schools/morrissey/sites/isp/academics/minor.html#tab-language_requirement"><span class="btn btn-default btn-gold">IS Minor Language Requirements</span></a></p>
<p>Is there a language proficiency requirement?<br /> </p>