An undergraduate degree in international relations was officially launched at Johns Hopkins University for the 1962-63 academic year. The major required studies in languages, history, political science, political economy, geography, psychology and social relations, a senior seminar, and a “field of interest.” In 1968, the name of the major changed to International Studies and moved into the Department of Political Science.
In 1964, an accelerated BA-MA program in international relations was established with SAIS. The program was designed to prepare students for research, teaching, or practice in international affairs. The junior year abroad program in Bologna was launched in 1975.
In 2014, the International Studies Program became a free-standing program outside of the Department of Political Science.
Several portions of the degree program have remained virtually unchanged for more than 50 years. From the beginning, the major has required:
- Language proficiency to the advanced level
- Four semesters of coursework in economics and/or political economy
- A field of interest (also referred to as a concentration or focus area) organized in terms of region, function, or language
A fourth component, referred to as the “electives” or “geography, psychology, and social relations” requirement, was part of the major from its creation until 2002. This portion required four courses but the disciplines changed each year. Over the years, anthropology, philosophy, and eventually sociology were also included as part of this requirement.
History and political science were core elements of the major from its inception. Traditionally, students undertaking the major took two semester-long courses in occidental civilization plus four more history courses. In Political Science, students took one pre-requisite course along with four additional courses in international relations and comparative politics.