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A Global Studies Major Concentration

Study how societies evolve over time.

All societies change over time, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. In this concentration you explore different conceptions of development and consider why some societies develop while others languish. What accounts for disparities in longevity, wealth, and access to food and healthcare? How can we explain differences in extreme poverty, malnutrition, and treatable disease? You consider how societies move from being heavily rural to those with higher levels of urbanization. What explains differences in political, civil and economic liberties? What accounts for differences in gender rights and opportunities? What are the implications of climate change and environmental distress?

Concentration objectives

The Global Studies concentration in Development offers an interdisciplinary approach to examine why some societies develop politically, socially, and economically while others languish. You can explore disparities in wealth, political freedoms, gender rights, urbanization, access to basic resources like food and healthcare, environmental conditions, and social justice.


To satisfy the concentration requirements, browse the available courses.

Browse Development Courses


General Requirements

One semester of language must be completed before declaring the major.

  • You must complete a minimum of 36 units in GS, including at least three courses focused on a world area.
  • You must complete at least 24 units at the 300 level or above, including courses across a minimum of three academic disciplines.
  • You must complete at least 6 units at the 400 level, no more than 3 of which may be directed research or independent study.
  • In addition to the 36 units, you must complete a four-semester sequence of courses in one modern language appropriate to your concentration.
  • For students matriculating at Washington University beginning in Fall 2023, Global Futures (L97 GS 3020) is a required course for ALL concentrations.

These requirements may be fulfilled only with college-level coursework undertaken during your undergraduate enrollment. Courses must be taken for a grade, and you must receive a grade of C+ or higher in all courses.

For more detailed information about the general requirements, please see the Global Studies FAQs page.

Additional Requirements and Information

Study Abroad

  • We strongly encourage you to study abroad. For those who do not study abroad and receive credit toward the Global Studies General Requirements, an additional 3 unit course at the 300 or 400 level is required.
  • We strongly prefer you to select a study abroad location and your regional specialization consistent with your chosen language of study (e.g., if you wish to study in Latin America, you must satisfy your language requirement with either Portuguese or Spanish).
  • You may receive a maximum of 6 credits from a single semester, 12 credits from a year, or 3 credits from a summer term of study abroad.
  • Study abroad credit only counts at the 300 level.
  • You may apply no more than 12 total credits to the Global Studies major from study abroad, the School of Continuing & Professional Studies, summer school at other US universities, or any combination thereof.
  • To receive credit for a summer course completed at another institution, you should fill out the Approval for Non-Wash U Course Credit form with Arts & Sciences to take the course for 'general credit' and then petition to have the course count toward your Global Studies major.
  • You may not receive credit for January Term (j-term) study abroad programs; they are too short in duration.

Concentration Specific Requirements

This concentration requires 36 units of coursework:

  • 3 units of Research Methods coursework [any level]
  • 6 units of introductory coursework from two different academic disciplines [100-200 level]
  • 9 units of advanced coursework from the Core courses list [300-400 level]
  • For students matriculating at Washington University beginning in Fall 2023, Global Futures (L97 GS 3020) is a required Core course.
  • 15 units of advanced Development coursework [300-400 level]
  • 3 units of additional coursework [any level]

Africa, East Asia, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia and North America are considered world areas for the Development concentration. You must complete two courses in one of these world areas and one course in another world area. These may be at any level.

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


If you have questions about this major concentration, please contact Professor Sobel.

Contact Professor Sobel