In addition to the coursework necessary to complete the international studies major, students are expected to fulfill the general distribution and writing intensive requirements set forth by the University. For advising information, please consult the Contacts & Advising page.

Students considering a major in International Studies should begin introductory courses required of the major early in their college careers. Choices may include an introductory history course at the 100-level, AS.180.101 Elements of Macroeconomics, AS.180.102 Elements of Microeconomics, the appropriate level of a foreign language, and one of the core political science courses.

In completing the requirements below, students must fulfill an advanced coursework requirement comprised of 5 courses taken at or above the 300 level from the political science, economics, and/or history requirements. The focal area and foreign language classes cannot count towards this advanced coursework requirement.

Courses with more than one subfield designation (e.g., both IR and CP) may not be double counted to fulfill both requirements.

Courses taken while studying abroad, and intending to count for the major, must receive approval from either the International Studies Program Director or Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Political Science Requirements

International studies students must complete 18 credits in political science, including:

  • One course in international relations (IR)
  • Two courses in comparative politics (CP)
  • One course in American politics (AP)
  • One course in political theory (PT)
  • One of the following gateway courses:
    • Conflict and Security in a Global World (070.295)
    • Contemporary International Politics (190.108)
    • Introduction to Global Studies (190.111)
    • Issues in International Development (230.150)*

*Applies to students who entered fall 2019 and earlier only.

Economics Requirements

International studies students must complete 12 credits in economics, including:

  • Elements of Macroeconomics (180.101)
  • Elements of Microeconomics (180.102)
  • One approved international economics course designated INST-ECON in the course description; this course may sometimes be fulfilled via study abroad with permission
  • One course (student’s choice) taken in the JHU Department of Economics (e.g.,

Note: both Elements of Macroeconomics and Elements of Microeconomics must be completed by the end of the sophomore year.

Foreign Language Requirements

International studies majors must demonstrate proficiency in at least one foreign language. Proficiency through the second semester of the advanced/third-year level is required. If students have proficiency above the advanced/third-year level, they must take either: Option (A), two semesters of an upper level literature or culture course offered by the language departments and taught in the language of proficiency, or Option (B), take two semesters of another language.

Waivers indicating advanced/third-year level language proficiency must be documented in the student’s official academic record in order for a student to be eligible to complete Option A or B. To receive these waivers, students must contact the Center for Language Education or the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures to complete a proficiency exam on campus.

Note: Students cannot count their foreign language courses toward the 5 course advanced coursework requirement.

Focus Area Requirements

To narrow an inevitably broad focus in international studies, students are required to pursue a specialization in an internationally-oriented field. To complete the specialization requirement, students may do one of the following:

  1. Pursue one of our unique double major or major/minor tracks. Students will receive either a double major in international studies and the affiliated department or program OR a major in international studies and a minor in the affiliated department or program depending on the track.
  2. Create their own specialization reflecting a coherent combination of coursework equivalent to four semester courses and may include:
    • A language beyond that used to fulfill the major’s language requirement
    • A functional specialization (e.g., international economics, security studies, international environmental policy)
    • A regional or area focus (e.g., Latin America, the Middle East).

Focus area specializations are to be developed according to the student’s evolving interest in international studies. The four courses may be drawn from the requirements of another major or minor or university distribution requirements.

Note: Students may not double-count courses between the focal area and other international studies major requirements, and the focal area classes cannot count towards the 5 course advanced coursework requirement.

Proposed specializations should be discussed, as early as possible, with the International Studies Program Director, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies, or a faculty adviser.

History Requirements

International Studies students must complete 15 credits in history, including:

  • One introductory course at the 100-level in the JHU History Department (e.g., AS.100.1xx).
  • Four courses designated INST-GLOBAL in the course description.


To graduate with honors in international studies, students must have a GPA of 3.7 or higher in the major and must complete a senior thesis in any department, as long as the topic is internationally-focused and approved by the department with a faculty adviser.