International Relations

To study international relations is to learn how the world works. Undergraduates studying international relations choose from a wide range of interdisciplinary courses in history, economics, political science, anthropology, sociology, and religion, among other disciplines. In a globalizing world, the study of international relations provides a portal for entry into a variety of career fields or for further graduate or professional training.

Twelve courses and two prerequisites, CAS EC 101 and CAS EC 102, are required for an undergraduate major in International Relations (IR). The 12 courses include four required principal courses, four courses from a functional track, and four courses from a regional track. At least two courses should be 400-level or above courses. A grade of C or higher is required in all principal and track courses. Majors are encouraged to study abroad for one or more semesters in one of BU’s 40 study abroad programs or in an external program. Courses taken overseas must be approved by the Pardee School in order to receive credit toward the major.

College of General Studies (CGS) students, upon admission to BU College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), will be given credit for CGS SS 202 as a substitute for CAS IR 350.

Required Principal Courses

Required principal courses are designed to develop a general understanding of the economic, political, historic, and geographic factors that influence the international system. Students must take all four of the courses listed below:

  • CAS IR 271 Introduction to International Relations
  • CAS IR 292 Fundamentals of International Economics*
  • CAS IR 349 History of International Relations, 1900-45
  • CAS IR 350 History of International Relations Since 1945

* Students who select the “International Economics, Business, and Politics” functional track must take CAS EC 392 or SMG IM 345 in place of CAS IR 292.  Please note that these courses require the following prerequisite courses: EC 392 requires CAS EC 101, CAS EC 102, and CAS EC 202 as prerequisites; CAS IR 292 and SMG IM 345 require CAS EC 101 and CAS EC 102 as prerequisites.

A minor in IR consists of eight, 4-credit courses consisting of the four required principal courses listed above in the Required Principal Courses section,  two prerequisite courses (EC 101 and EC 102), and two additional courses from any of the regional or functional tracks as chosen by the student. A grade of C or higher must be achieved for these courses to count toward a minor in IR.

The Pardee School offers courses in 10 distinct subfields known as “tracks.” Tracks are divided into two types: functional and regional.

Regional Tracks:

  • Africa/Middle East
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Latin America

Functional tracks:

  • Environment/Development
  • Foreign Policy/Security Studies
  • International Economics, Business and Politics
  • International Systems and World Order
  • Regional Politics/Cultural Anthropology

Undergraduate concentrators must select one functional track and one regional track. Four courses must be taken in each track. No course may be used in more than one track. This arrangement is designed to give the undergraduate concentrator reasonable facility in an important functional subfield of international relations as well as an understanding of at least one region of the world.

For a detailed explanation of the program requirements, please refer to the university bulletin.

The International Relations Honors Program is an elite, two-semester intensive research project completed under the guidance of a faculty advisor and defended before a panel of three Pardee School professors at the end of the research year.

Participating students engage in co-curricular activities abroad to reinforce their project, and  earn credit for two upper-level IR courses in their chosen tracksSuccessful students graduate with Honors from the Pardee School, the highest level of academic achievement for undergraduates.

The IR Honors Thesis is a significant piece of academic writing for publication, employment purposes, or post baccalaureate applications.

To apply to the IR Honors Program, complete and submit the program application form. Please refer to the application guide for instructions on the application process.