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B.A. in International Relations

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  • Course description
    International relations is a field of study concerned with the cultural, economic, environmental, military, and political interactions among the major units of the world, such as states, international organizations, transnational corporations, and nongovernmental organizations. Courses from a number of departments and programs are drawn upon to offer an interdisciplinary major in international relations for the bachelor of arts degree.

    The purposes of the major are to increase general knowledge about the history, institutions, interactions, and events of the international system; to develop insight into the objectives, beliefs, decisions, and policies of state and nonstate actors; to provide a conceptual vocabulary and diverse theoretical perspectives to help explain and interpret international behavior; to build skills in critical analysis and evaluation of global issues; to develop an appreciation and tolerance of diveristy and "others;" and to encourage value evaluation and the solving of global problems.

    The international relations major provides a general education for students seeking greater knowledge about world affairs. It also provides a sound preparation for students interested in pursuing an M.A. or Ph.D. in international relations and related social sciences or a J.D. in law, and for careers in the foreign service, the federal government, international law, international business, banking and finance, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. International relations alumni have been accepted to the top graduate programs and law schools in the country, and are well represented in all of the listed international careers.

    Requirements: The international relations major consists of a minimum of 10 courses. Among these 10 courses are eight course requirements:

    1. Three core courses: ECON 227 or 327, GEOG 211, POLS 170. These courses are offered in the fall and spring semesters. These three courses should be completed by the end of the junior year.

    2. The international relations theory course, IREL 250. This course should be taken either semester of the junior year. Students studying off-campus for the entire junior year should enroll in the course during the spring semester of the sophomore year. Two of the three core courses should be completed before enrolling in the theory course.

    3. Three courses in an area concentration, including a history course, with no more than two of these courses in the same department. The area concentrations are:

        * Africa
        * Asia
        * Europe
        * Latin America and Caribbean
        * Middle East
        * North America
        * Russia and Eurasia

    The acceptable history courses for each area concentration are indicated by a + on the area course lists.

    4. One senior seminar in international relations. Students must enroll in a seminar either semester of the senior year, even if they previously have taken an international relations seminar. The approved seminars will be designated with a * in the official course schedule. The approved seminars ordinarily will include: ECON 317, ECON 338, HIST 311, IREL 300, IREL 310, IREL 400, IREL 425, and POLS 380. Several of the IREL seminars meet the university capstone requirement.

    The eight course requirements could be met by the completion of fewer than eight courses in certain circumstances. A single course could satisfy more than one course requirement. For example, a single history course could meet requirements for an area history and an advanced seminar. A course requirement could be fulfilled by a course recorded for another major or minor. For example, a double major in ECON / IREL could record ECON 327 as an economics course, but it would still satisfy the core course requirement for the IREL major. The entire three-course area concentration requirement could be met by taking an official minor in one of the designated areas. For example, an IREL major could minor in Latin American studies, and if three of the courses in that minor were appropriate for the IREL major area concentration, the area concentration requirement would, in reality, be met. In any of these cases, however, the IREL major would still have to take at least 10 courses that count exclusively toward the IREL major.

    Beyond the eight course requirements, students will take two additional courses to reach a total of 10. Students may flexibly select these additional courses based on interest, but they must be from the international relations course list or be approved by your adviser. To more thoroughly cover the field, an IREL major may take more than 10 courses, choosing these additional courses from the IREL course list or any of the area concentration lists.

    There are four additional requirements and rules of the IREL major as stipulated below:

       1. At least seven courses must be taken from the international relations course list. This list consists of courses that focus primarily or substantially on relations across state and non-state boundaries.
       2. Of the initial 10 courses recorded for the major, no more than five courses may be taken from one department. If a student takes more than 10 courses, then more than five courses may be taken from a single department.
       3. No more than four off-campus courses will count toward the major.
       4. Competence must be demonstrated in a foreign language compatible to the area concentration, normally by passing a one-credit 200-level language course on the culture or society of a country or region. The language(s) appropriate to each area concentration are presented on the area course list. If students should decide late to major in IREL and wish to begin a new language, then they must complete coursework equivalent to a fourth-level language course (e.g., SPAN 105). If no language is offered for the area concentration then an alternative foreign language will suffice. However, students will be encouraged to develop such language competence elsewhere, such as in summer school or abroad. International students, whose native language is not English, are exempted from the language requirement if they adopt an area specialization of the native language.

    One semester of study abroad, preferably in a country within the regional specialization, is strongly recommended. If students are unable to study abroad in the area of specialization, overseas study could be undertaken elsewhere. Students who choose the United States as their area concentration should study abroad in the country or region of their language specialization. International students, whose native language is not English and who specialize in their native country or region, have less need for overseas study. Off-campus study in Washington, D.C., including the Washington Semester or Washington Center, also is recommended, but not as highly as overseas study. Students should contact the Director of International Education for information about off-campus study.

    The international relations department encourages students to pursue summer internships in positions related to international relations. Students have interned in embassies abroad, as well as in government agencies in Washington, D.C. Students with high grade point averages or a scholarly bent are encouraged to apply for honors in international relations or to conduct research with a faculty member. Students planning to pursue graduate study in international relations should consider taking a course in statistics, computer science, and microeconomics and macroeconomics. Faculty advisers work closely with students interested in study abroad, internships, honors, or independent study.

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