Why Study International Studies


An international studies major provides students with the core knowledge and crucial analytical skills that can help one to make sense of the international system and have an impact on government, business, and society well into the future.  In short, this degree allows students to leverage core knowledge from a number of social science fields in order to become more informed critical citizens and, in many cases, pursue careers in related fields.

International studies is an explicitly interdisciplinary major.  Students take a core set of courses in the departments of history, political science and economics.  The major is designed to allow the student to explore all three contributing disciplines while focusing more intensely on one of the three fields.  The major requirements are also flexible; there is no one path to a career in international studies, and as such the major requires flexibility in coursework and one-on-one advising with the Director of the program.

Substantial work in a modern foreign language – comprising six semesters of language study – reinforces and enhances the student’s overall understanding of the languages and cultures of the regions in which they demonstrate an interest.  International studies is an ideal major for a student with a keen interest in study abroad, as the program requirements overlap with the types of language and social science courses typically provided in a study abroad program.  While study abroad is not a strict requirement for graduation, it is strongly recommended and can open many doors for academic and career opportunities in the field.  In lieu of study abroad experience, volunteering with local organizations is strongly encouraged; the Twin Cities have a wealth of international experiences from which a student can draw.

International studies students will find a variety of opportunities to apply their knowledge while on campus.  Student clubs such as Foreign Affairs Club (part of which is the Model United Nations team) provide leadership and hands-on learning opportunities.  Likewise, international studies majors find opportunities to work with faculty on research projects through grant programs such as the Young Scholars and Collaborative Inquiry grants offered by the Undergraduate Research and Collaborative Scholarship (URCS) board.

Students will often choose to combine a major in international studies with one in political science, history, economics or a foreign language in order to further develop their skills in their field or language of concentration.  Students who are looking to maximize their knowledge of the international system and gain skills that will be useful in the business and non-profit worlds can pair the degree with an international business degree or the Renaissance Program.