International Affairs

A Global Studies Major Concentration

Study the relationships between political entities. 

Why do states, nations and societies cooperate, compromise, and fight? Living and working in our rapidly changing global arena presents great opportunities to advance the human condition, improve political and civil liberties, recast bargains between governments and their societies, transform social welfare, and advance the boundaries of knowledge and scientific exploration. Yet, the same context presents great risks as people fear loss of identity, worry about economic subordination and loss to those beyond their borders, encounter the export of environmental degradation, and confront potential decline in personal and social autonomy. You can explore the heightened economic, political, social, cultural and environmental interdependence that generates prospects for cooperation, but also serious challenges, which create the possibility of conflict, but also for compromise.

Concentration objectives

The Global Studies concentration in International Affairs offers an interdisciplinary approach to understanding relations between societies. It provides opportunities to examine complex global issues and processes from multiple perspectives, to help understand the fundamental processes of cooperation, compromise, and conflict in the global arena. The program provides you with knowledge and skills for understanding and working with difficult international and cross-cultural problems that states, societies and communities face.


To satisfy the concentration requirements, browse the available courses.

Browse International Affairs 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.

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 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 International Affairs 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