The Major in International and Area Studies — Concentration in International Affairs

Why do states, nations and societies cooperate, compromise and fight? Breathtaking changes in political, economic and social relations have taken place over the past several centuries. Living and working in this rapidly changing global environment presents great opportunities to advance the human condition, create political liberties, recast bargains between governments and their societies, transform social welfare, and advance the boundaries of knowledge and scientific exploration. Yet the same environment presents great risks as people fear loss of identity, worry about economic subordination and loss to those beyond their borders, encounter the export of environmental degradation, and confront potential decline in personal and social autonomy. Our heightened economic, political, social, cultural and environmental interdependence generates serious challenges, which create the possibility for conflict but also for cooperation and compromise.

Concentration objectives: The IAS concentration in international affairs offers an interdisciplinary approach to understanding relations between societies. It provides opportunities to examine complex global issues and processes from multiple perspectives, to help understand the fundamental processes of cooperation, compromise and conflict in the global arena. The program provides students with knowledge and skills for understanding and working with difficult international and cross-cultural problems that states, societies and communities face.

This concentration requires 36 units of IAS course work:

  • 3 units of Research Methods course work (any level)
  • 6 units of introductory course work (100-200 level) from two different academic disciplines
  • 9 units of advanced course work (300-400 level) from the Core Courses list
  • 15 units of advanced course work from a minimum of three different academic disciplines (at least two must be at the 400 level)
  • 3 units additional course work (any level)

Additional requirements and regulations:

  • Completion of all IAS course work with a grade of C+ or higher.
  • Students must satisfy the standard IAS foreign language requirement: the successful completion of four semesters of one language appropriate to their concentration.
  • One semester of language must be completed before declaring the major.
  • We strongly encourage students to study abroad. For those students who do not study abroad, an additional 3-unit course at the 300 or 400 level is required.
  • We strongly prefer students to select a study abroad location consistent with their chosen language of study (e.g., students who wish to study in Latin America must satisfy their language requirement with either Spanish or Portuguese).
  • Throughout the course of completing the major, students must show depth in at least one world area by taking a minimum two courses focused on the same area, and breadth by taking a third course focused on a different area. We consider world areas to be Africa, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America and South Asia.
  • Majors must choose their upper-level course work from a minimum of three academic disciplines (for example: anthropology, economics, history and political science).
  • No more than 3 credits may be from directed readings, research or independent study excluding the honors thesis.
  • The advanced credits must be unique to the IAS major.
  • At least 6 credits must be at the 400 level.

N.B.: A single course may satisfy more than one of the distribution requirements (disciplinary or world area). Some of these requirements may be completed while abroad.

Introductory courses (choose two from this list, 6 units):

AFAS 178Imagining and Creating Africa: Youth, Culture, and Change3
AMCS 250Topics in Asian-American Studies3
Anthro 132Freshman Seminar: Past Tense, Future Imperfect: The Rise and Fall of Societies and Global Civilization3
Anthro 160BIntroduction to Cultural Anthropology3
Econ 1011Introduction to Microeconomics3
Econ 1021Introduction to Macroeconomics3
EnSt 110Environmental Issues3
EPSc 111Introduction to Global Climate Change in the 21st Century3
EPSc 116AResources of the Earth3
EPSc 201Earth and the Environment4
EPSc 219Energy and the Environment3
EPSc 221AHuman Use of the Earth3
GIS 200Introduction to GIS3
History 102CWestern Civilization3
History 164Introduction to World History: The Second World War in World History3
History 1640Health and Disease in World History3
History 2093Sophomore Seminar: Mobilizing Shame: Violence, the Media, and International Intervention3
History 2171Who Died and Made Them Kings? People, Politics and Power in the Atlantic World, 1500-18003
History 270Globalization and its Discontents3
IAS 103BInternational Public Affairs3
IAS 127Migration in the Global World: Stories3
IAS 135Freshman Seminar — Chinatown: Migration, Identity and Space3
IAS 140East Asia in the World3
IAS 155Freshman Seminar: Mapping the World: Introduction to Human Geography3
IAS 160World Politics and the Global Economy3
IAS 244Introduction to European Studies3
IS 210Bugs, Drugs and Global Society: Topics in Global Health3
JINE 210CIntroduction to Islamic Civilization3
LatAm 165DLatin America: Nation, Ethnicity and Social Conflict3
MEC 290Microeconomics3
MEC 292Global Economy3
Phil 131FPresent Moral Problems3
Phil 235FIntroduction to Environmental Ethics3
Pol Sci 102BIntroduction to Comparative Politics3
Pol Sci 103BInternational Politics3
Pol Sci 106Introduction to Political Theory3
Pol Sci 2010Introduction to Environmental Policy3
WGSS 100BIntroduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies3

Core courses at the 300-400 level (choose three from this list, 9 units): 

Anthro 3283Introduction to Global Health3
Anthro 3612Population and Society3
Econ 451Environmental Policy3
History 3741History of United States: Foreign Relations: 1920-19893
History 3743History of U.S. Foreign Relations Since 19203
IAS 3040International Law and Politics3
IAS 314BInternational Politics3
IAS 328BGateway to Development3
IAS 3575U.S. Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice3
IAS 376International Economics3
IAS 4246State Failure, State Success and Development3
IAS 4761Politics of Global Finance3
Pol Sci 4070Global Justice3
Pol Sci 4731Global Political Economy3

Research methods (choose one from this list, 3 units):

Anthro 3284Public Health Research and Practice3
Anthro 4123Argumentation Through Ethnography3
Anthro 4253Researching Fertility, Mortality and Migration3
Anthro 4455Ethnographic Fieldwork: The Politics of Schooling3
Anthro 4803Advanced GIS Modeling and Landscape Analysis3
Comp Lit 394Worldwide Translation: Language, Culture, Technology3
Econ 413Introduction to Econometrics3
Econ 414Econometric Techniques3
EnSt 380Applications in GIS3
GIS 200Introduction to GIS3
GIS 300Advanced GIS3
GIS 303Digital Cartography3
GIS 421Spatial Data Modeling and Design3
History 301THistorical Methods — Transregional History3
IA 524Methods and Research Design in International Studies3
IA 5410Alternative Analytic Techniques for International Affairs3
IAS 3248Intercultural Communication3
IAS 4005Directed Research in IAS3
InterD 4003Global Burden of Disease: Methods and Applications3
Math 2200Elementary Probability and Statistics3
Math 3200Elementary to Intermediate Statistics and Data Analysis3
Math 475Statistical Computation3
Phil 321GPhilosophy of Science3
Pol Sci 3011Computational Modeling in the Social Sciences3
Pol Sci 362Politics and the Theory of Games3
Pol Sci 363Quantitative Political Methodology3
Pol Sci 495Research Design and Methods3
Psych 300Introduction to Psychological Statistics3
QBA 120Managerial Statistics I3
QBA 121Managerial Statistics II3
SOC 3050Statistics for Sociology3
URST 4411In the Field: Ethnographic and Qualitative Methods3

Advanced courses: Choose five courses from current relevant internationally-focused course offerings in the following departments.* All courses must be approved by the student's IAS adviser in order to count for the major. Visit the concentration webpage and master course list for full options.

  • African and African-American Studies
  • Anthropology
  • East Asian Languages and Cultures
  • Economics
  • Environmental Studies
  • History
  • International and Area Studies
  • Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
  • Latin American Studies
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
  • University College — Geographic Information Systems; International Affairs; International Studies; Sustainability
  • Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

*Students may petition to add a course by following the instructions on the IAS FAQs webpage.

Additional Information

Language Requirement for the Major in International Affairs/International and Area Studies: All IAS majors must satisfy a foreign language requirement that entails the successful completion of one language appropriate to their concentration while at Washington University. For some students, this may mean the first four semesters of a language; for others who place into advanced language classes, and with approval from IAS language faculty, this may include literature, culture, oral communication and linguistic courses in the target language, once such students complete the basic language sequence. These four semesters are in addition to the 36 units of course work outlined above, and thus advanced courses in literature and culture used to satisfy the four-semester language requirement may not also be counted as advanced credit for the IAS major. Native speakers of a foreign language must satisfy the four-semester requirement in another language appropriate to their concentration. Heritage speakers must seek appropriate placement by the coordinator of the language program and complete the four-semester requirement.

Study Abroad: Majors are strongly encouraged to study abroad in one of Washington University's Overseas Programs during junior year or the summer. Some credit for courses taken abroad may be applied to the major. For those who do not study abroad, an additional 3-credit course at the 300 or 400 level is required.

Senior Honors: Students must confidently expect to graduate with an overall GPA of 3.65 or higher in order to qualify for Senior Honors. Students should enroll in IAS 485 Preparation for IAS Honors Thesis in the fall of senior year, and in IAS 486 IAS Senior Honors Thesis in the spring of senior year (under the corresponding section number of the faculty member overseeing their thesis) in order to be properly tracked by the IAS capstone coordinator.

Contact:Toni Loomis