In addition to the coursework necessary to complete the International Studies major, students are expected to fulfill the First-Year Foundation and Foundational Abilities requirements set forth by the university. Furthermore, students must complete at least 6 credits of Writing and Communication foundational ability coursework in one major. For the International Studies major, students would be able to fulfill this requirement by selecting 6 credits of elective courses in the major that are designated as Writing and Communications courses.

All courses taken for International Studies requirements must be completed with a grade of C- or better, and may not be taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory. Consult the Academic Catalogue for more information.

Students considering a major in International Studies should begin introductory courses required of the major early in their college careers. Choices may include AS.180.101 Elements of Macroeconomics, AS.180.102 Elements of Microeconomics, the appropriate level of a foreign language, and one of the designated International Studies Gateway 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 focus area and foreign language classes cannot count towards this advanced coursework requirement.

Courses with more than one subfield designation (e.g., both INST-IR and INST-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.

For advising information, please consult the Contacts & Advising page.

Political Science Requirements

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

  • One course in international relations (INST-IR)
  • Two courses in comparative politics (INST-CP)
  • One course in American politics (INST-AP)
  • One course in political theory (INST-PT)
  • One of the following gateway courses (INST-GATEWY):
    • Conflict and Security in a Global World (070.295)*
    • Contemporary International Politics (190.108)
    • Introduction to Global Studies (190.111)
    • States, Regimes and Contentious Politics (192.150)

*Applies to students who entered fall 2021 and earlier only.

Economics Requirements

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

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

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

History Requirements

International Studies students must complete 15 credits in global history, designated by the POS tag INST-GLOBAL in the course description.

Foreign Language Requirements

International Studies majors must demonstrate a level of proficiency in at least one modern foreign language. To achieve proficiency in Chinese (not including Heritage Chinese), Japanese, Korean or Arabic, foreign language instruction through the second semester of the intermediate/second-year level is required. To achieve proficiency in any other modern language offered at Homewood (including Heritage Chinese), foreign language instruction through the second semester of the advanced/third-year level is required. Note: American Sign Language is not accepted for the major.

Students who enter JHU with proficiency beyond the advanced/third-year level in any language (or above the intermediate/second-year level in the four languages listed above), as determined by exam or other methods, must complete two additional language courses (in the same language) at any level of instruction, which can include literature courses taught in a language other than English. Note: Students with native language fluency (as determined by exam or by evaluation of the language faculty) must take the two courses in a different language.

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 First-Year Foundation and Foundational Abilities requirements.

Note: Students may not double-count courses between the focus area and other International Studies major requirements, and the focus 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 or Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies.


Departmental honors will be awarded to students who have a major GPA in the top 20% of the International Studies graduating class OR have a major GPA above a 3.7 and have written a senior thesis.