SFS Major Requirements for 2018-2019 Transfer Students

Major Fields of Study

The School of Foreign Service offers majors in eight fields, all of which have significant international and interdisciplinary elements.  Please note that credits awarded for Advanced Placement classes taken in high school may not under any circumstances be counted towards a major in the School of Foreign Service.

Culture and Politics

The Culture and Politics (CULP) major provides students with a complex understanding of the relationship between culture, knowledge, and power.  It teaches students theoretical frameworks and analytical skills that enhance cross-cultural tolerance, social justice, and ethical leadership in order to improve a world marked by power hierarchies and cultural conflicts.

Goals of the Major

Students learn to apply analytical tools from multiple fields as they practice critical reflection on self and society, and they enhance their analytic sophistication through collaborative problem solving.  The CULP major offers curricular flexibility. Students build a rigorous foundation for their studies through an in-depth gateway course that stresses fluency in a variety of theories, definitions, and genres of culture.  Students then assemble their own course sequences around individually chosen concentrations in consultation with the dean.  All students are expected to master the analytical methods and skills necessary to become thoughtful, rigorous readers and writers of scholarship on cultural power relations in the international arena.

CULP students are actively involved in publishing their own scholarship, linking with various Georgetown programs, student groups, and the rich cultural and social resources of Washington, DC.

Objectives of the Major

The contemporary world is characterized by extensive cultural contacts that enhance connections but also pose new challenges to acting responsibly and sensitively to the unfamiliar.  Cultural competence and diplomacy are central to the peaceful functioning of a global system marked by deep historical inequalities.  Preparing students to treat opposing viewpoints and experiences with respect, CULP fosters a sophisticated and informed understanding of cultural diversity and the politics of identity. To prepare students for unforeseen conflicts and opportunities, they will be educated to do the following:

  • Identify, compare, and synthesize the key concepts and scholarly research in cultural and social theory across multiple disciplines—including history, anthropology, sociology, geography, literature, music, performing arts, film and new media and visual studies—that address the connections between power, culture, and identity.
  • Explicate, evaluate, and critique cross-cultural political issues, dynamics, and events in clear, concise writing.
  • Recognize multiple perspectives and dimensions of cultural interactions, and apply critical frameworks to competing claims to rights and recognition.
  • Develop the substantive, analytical and ethical skills necessary to question stereotypical, polarizing, and essentialist views of difference, as a precondition for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the domestic and international realm.
  • Understand and apply an expansive concept of culture that empowers ordinary people, organizations, and institutions as agents of change.

The requirements for the Culture and Politics majors are summarized as follows:

  • Theorizing Culture and Politics (CULP-045)
  • Three courses from Field I–Humanities
  • Three courses from Field II–Social Sciences
  • Five courses approved for inclusion in the student’s thematic concentration
  • Beginning with the class of 2015, one of these twelve CULP courses must be an approved Research Methods Course
  • Beginning with the class of 2016, students in the CULP major may overlap only one course between the major and the certificate

Writing in the Major

CULP students will satisfy the University’s Integrated Writing requirement through the required gateway class (CULP-045).  Because CULP is an interdisciplinary major, however, there is no one methodology or writing genre that students must master.  Students assemble their own course sequences around individually chosen concentrations in consultation with their mentor and curricular dean.  The self-designed concentration may require a combination of discipline-specific methodologies or writing strategies housed in the SFS and the College, and students are encouraged to find additional opportunities to hone their writing skills throughout their coursework. 

Honors in Culture and Politics

Selection of honors candidates is based on evaluations of proposals submitted during the spring semester of junior year.

To graduate with honors in Culture and Politics, a student must:

  • Earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.33 and a grade point average of 3.67 in the major by the date of graduation.
  • Successfully complete two semesters of tutorial work dedicated to preparation of a thesis.
  • Submit a senior thesis on an approved topic which is judged to be of honors quality by a faculty committee appointed for this purpose.

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Global Business

The private sector plays a significant role within all aspects of international affairs by interacting with governmental and non-governmental actors.  The failure of a large firm can have real effects on people at all corners of the world.  Development policies now recognize the critical role of private incentives at the most micro level.  Corporations are under increasing scrutiny to demonstrate ethical and socially responsible behavior.


The Global Business (GBUS) major will provide BSFS students with a unique opportunity to combine a basic business education with their political and economic coursework, as well as their advanced language, research, and cross-cultural proficiencies.  The major offers BSFS students access to courses in accounting, international marketing, corporate finance, and business operations.  Students are enabled to use the tools from the business disciplines to understand and analyze the firm and the private sector.

Through an integrated learning experience, the aim of the major is to produce a new breed of graduates who are fluent in the global languages of business, politics, economics, and culture.  This fluency and the associated analytical capacity should allow graduates to pursue careers in the private and public sectors, non-profits, and academia, and allow them to freely move between those sectors as their careers evolve.  Graduates of the GBUS major will be able to understand corporate ethics and social responsibility and how political and economic environments have made these strategic concerns of the global firm.

Goals of the Major

The Global Business major is designed to provide students with all of the rigorous, multidisciplinary, tools needed to analyze business enterprises and how they operate within financial, social and cultural forces around the world.  Students acquire a core set of tools in the business disciplines from select MSB courses, as well as study in the social sciences, and humanities while completing SFS and University requirements.


  • Acquisition of quantitative and qualitative methods.
  • Acquisition of analytical tools of the business disciplines of accounting, finance, marketing, and operations.
  • Combining of business, social science, and humanity disciplines to understand and analyze the firm and the private sector in the context of global social and cultural forces.
  • Understand the multinational corporation and its behavior.
  • Understand international investments and corporate finance.
  • Understand the interactions of businesses and governments in public sector policy making.
  • Understand corporate ethics, social responsibility, and environmental impacts, and how political, economic, and social conditions have made these strategic concerns of the global firm.


The GBUS major requires 10 courses in addition to the calculus prerequisite.

Prerequisite: Calculus I (MATH 035, AP Credit, or equivalent)

  • Statistics: Statistics (ECON 121, MATH 040, or OPIM 173)
  • Required Business Core:
    • Principles of Marketing (MARK 220)
    • Accounting I (ACCT 101)
    • Accounting II (ACCT 102)
    • Business Financial Management (FINC 211)
  • One course in International Business from the prepared list;  see the BSFS website for detailed course listings. 
  • Three Supporting SFS courses from the prepared list;  see the BSFS website for detailed course listings.
  • One Supporting MSB course from the prepared list;  see the BSFS website for detailed course listings.

Honors in Global Business

Parallel to the other majors, honors in the Global Business major requires a 3.5 overall GPA and 3.67 GPA in the major.  In addition, qualification for honors will require a thesis judged to be of honors quality by a committee of faculty members or completion of additional requirements as determined by the field committee.

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International Economics

The International Economics (IECO) major is grounded in the belief that economic analysis is essential to the understanding of modern world affairs. With decreasing costs of transporting goods and information, market forces, which guide the international flow of goods, assets, people, technology, and information, are becoming a dominant factor in the process of globalization as well as in international conflicts. For example, when markets link countries, domestic policies such as subsidies and environmental regulation in one country affect the welfare of other countries. The integrating force of the market is redefining boundaries beyond those of the traditional nation state.


Economics is a social science that studies the behavior of social systems, such as markets, corporations, unions, international institutions, legislatures, and even families—through the lens of a unified analytical framework. That framework is built on the premise that individuals have goals and pursue those goals, subject to the constraints of resources, technology, and institutional setting. Thus, the focus is on the way individuals make decisions, how those decisions add up, and interact with one another to produce the social systems we observe. Ultimately, economics offers insights into the study and design of policies to improve the performance of the system.

The applications of this approach to international issues are myriad, covering topics such as trade policy, international economic organizations, economic growth and development, international financial markets, financial crises, international migration, economic integration, international policy coordination, international political economy, transition to market economies, global environment and production standards, multinational-corporations, international business and banking, and regional economies.

Because students receive rigorous training in quantitative techniques and objective analysis, a major in International Economics is excellent preparation for careers and leadership positions in the private or the public sector. Our students have been highly successful in areas such as finance, consulting, law, management, media, international development, international organizations, research institutes, government, non-profit organizations, and academia.

Goals of the Major

The International Economics major develops in students the ability to conduct innovative, well-informed, rigorous, quantitative analysis of all aspects of the world economy. Whether it is used in the service of business strategy, public policy, scientific research, or any other endeavor, this ability is essential to understanding the economic forces at work in the world and making sound decisions in the face of them. All students are expected to master the theoretical and empirical tools necessary to conduct such analysis. The major provides students with in-depth knowledge and opportunities for application in three subfields:

  • Subfield A:  International Economic Theory and Policy. This concentration delves deeper into the traditional areas of economics and applications to economic policy, which, in addition to international economics, includes game theory, industrial organization, labor economics, public economics, development economics, and macroeconomics.
  • Subfield B:  International Commerce and Finance. The focus of this concentration is on practical applications of international economics in business and finance. The emphasis is on developing skills and institutional knowledge relevant to international commerce, investment, and financial markets.
  • Subfield C:  Economic Growth, Transition and Development. The focus of this concentration is on international economics as it pertains to developing countries. It places greater emphasis on understanding the challenges faced by different regions and on strategies for economic development.

Students deepen their knowledge in these areas through in-depth subfield courses. They expand their knowledge by taking supporting courses in a wide range of specialized topics within each area.


The International Economics major covers the following:

  • The basic elements of microeconomic theory, including consumer choice, the impact on resource allocation of different market structures, game theory, general equilibrium analysis, and asymmetric information.
  • The measurement of output and prices, along with theories of economic growth, business cycles, and fiscal and monetary policy.
  • The fundamentals of international trade and finance.
  • Elementary statistics, probability theory, statistical inference, electronic data acquisition, and computer applications.
  • The theory and applications of regression analysis, with emphasis on the main techniques for estimating economic relationships and testing economic hypotheses.
  • The application of economic theory and empirical analysis to a range of topics including labor, industrial organization, development, and the public sector.
  • The elements of original research and writing, from posing a question, to summarizing the literature, modeling, gathering data, establishing causality, and drawing conclusions.

Foundations in Economics

In order to ensure a firm foundation for the advanced study of economics, students wishing to major in International Economics need to have a minimum grade point average of 2.5 in the Core SFS economics sequence and receive no grade lower than a C in any of those courses.

There is a calculus requirement to begin the major which is Calculus I or the equivalent.

During the sophomore year, students with room in their schedules should consider taking Intermediate Microeconomics, Intermediate Macroeconomics, and Economic Statistics, especially if junior year abroad is planned. 

Students considering graduate study in economics are encouraged to take this sequence of math courses:  Calculus II, Multivariable Calculus, Linear Algebra and Introduction to Proofs/Problem Solving (MATH-036, 137, 150 and 200).  Most Ph.D. Economics programs require these courses as minimal math preparation.  Math courses taken outside GU may not count towards Supporting requirements of the major. 

At most two of the following accounting and finance courses may be taken for the IECO major:

  • ACCT 001 (Subfield B)
  • GBUS 400 (Subfield B)
  • FINC 150 (Supporting) 

Please note that extra applied courses, extra subfield courses, and courses from a different subfield that has not been selected may count as Supporting.  For example, if a student selects a Subfield C course and is pursuing Subfield B, the Subfield C course could count as a required Supporting course. 


Required Courses for all Subfields:

  • Calculus I or equivalent (Students considering graduate study in economics should take additional math courses.)
  • ECON-101/103 Intermediate Microeconomics
  • ECON-102/104 Intermediate Macroeconomics
  • ECON-121 Economic Statistics
  • ECON-122 Introduction to Econometrics
  • IECO-401 Senior Seminar or an approved 400-level ECON course

Additional Requirements for Subfield A:

  • 4 Applied category courses
  • 1 Supporting category course

Additional Requirements for Subfield B:

  • 1 Applied category course
  • 2 Subfield B category courses
  • 2 Supporting category courses

Additional Requirements for Subfield C:

  • 1 Applied category course
  • 2 Subfield C category courses
  • 2 Supporting category courses

Writing in the Major

Teaching students to understand the concepts and methodologies related to these mathematical and statistical tools necessitates that students develop proficiency in explaining the motivation, logic, and conclusion of their work verbally.  The International Economics major offers students the opportunity to hone their writing skills through three primary venues:  1.) tests and assignments that require students to explain their reasoning, 2.) writing short papers that develop arguments, explain theories, or present evidence, and 3.) writing a senior thesis, which teaches students to evaluate scholarly literature, formulate and model a hypothesis, locate data and test the hypothesis, articulate their findings through a written paper, and formulate a convincing argument. 

Honors in International Economics

Students can earn Honors in the IECO Major by submitting a letter of intent during the junior year, writing a thesis based on original research within IECO-401 during the senior year, obtaining an honors quality mark on the thesis, earning a major GPA of at least 3.67, and earning a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5. In addition, students must successfully complete Honors Intermediate Microeconomics and Honors Intermediate Macroeconomics or earn grades of A or A- in the regular sections of Intermediate Microeconomics and Intermediate Macroeconomics.

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International History

Processes of historical change have become increasingly global during recent centuries.  The major in International History (IHIS) combines a broad introduction to the analysis of historical changes that transcend national boundaries with the opportunity to explore a particular theme or question in the context of a self-designed major concentration.

The major goes beyond study of the formal relations between states—the traditional subject matter of diplomatic history—to address themes in social, cultural, and intellectual history.  Historical scholarship today draws on ideas and data from subjects as varied as anthropology, philosophy, sociology, political science, religious studies, and literature, and this mix is reflected in the coursework for the International History major.

In addition, the major exposes students to a range of theoretical tools and methodological approaches to historical analysis and places special emphasis on the development of critical thinking, argumentation, and writing skills.

Goals of the Major

The International History major prepares students to understand how the world got to be the way it is today and the forces that govern its ongoing evolution.  It is designed to introduce them to the breadth and depth of the human experience by a comparative study of past and contemporary societies and cultures, and to develop their ability to conduct research, analyze and assess evidence, and articulate sound conclusions both orally and in writing.

Our students thus acquire knowledge and skills that help them develop as informed, engaged, and thoughtful citizens and scholars.  The study of international history enables our students to become more involved with the complex world in which they live, and to maintain throughout their lives a spirit of inquiry and curiosity that not only makes them more active in their communities, but also provides them with personal enrichment and enjoyment.

Students majoring in International History must complete the following requirements:  HIST-305;  four classes from the approved list of classes in International History (including at least one seminar or colloquium in addition to HIST-305);  and five classes from a list of classes developed in consultation with the IHIS dean centering on a student’s thematic topic of study. At least two classes in the major—and up to three classes can—come from outside the History Department.  

Objectives of the Major

The study of history plays a distinctive and central role in a strong liberal arts curriculum.  Knowledge of history is essential to understanding the emergence of the modern world and for grappling with continuing global interactions and conflicts.  International History majors enjoy considerable freedom to focus their work on their own areas of interest and to design programs that complement the rest of their academic work.

The International History major will enable students to:

  • develop the ability to explain and contextualize change over time on the basis of evidence;
  • distinguish between types and genres of sources and between evidence-based conclusions and unfounded statements;
  • use sources to formulate questions and construct original arguments, and develop their ability to support their conclusions orally and in writing with evidence and appropriate documentation;
  • identify, evaluate, and compare historians’ different interpretations of the past, thus understanding the discipline of history as an ongoing conversation between sources, scholars, and students; and
  • identify and trace major themes, issues, and developments in the history of at least two world regions, and gain the ability to formulate comparative questions and arguments about different societies and cultures.

Writing in the Major

As they move through the SFS Core Curriculum and meet the requirements towards their major, IHIS students repeatedly encounter and practice various forms of historical writing.  All IHIS majors are required to take Global Perspectives on International History (HIST-305) which exposes students to various methodologies in studying international history and gives students the opportunity to hone their writing as scholars and historians.  In addition, students continue to practice writing through the upper-level history seminars, which allow students to continually develop and revise their writing skills throughout their academic careers.

Honors in International History

To graduate with honors in International History, a student must:

  • earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 and a grade point average in the major of 3.67 by the date of graduation.
  • successfully complete the two-semester honors seminar offered in the Department of History (by invitation only); and
  • submit a senior thesis on an approved topic that is judged to be of honors quality by a committee of faculty members appointed for this purpose.

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International Political Economy

Goals of the Major

The International Political Economy (IPEC) major provides students with the multi-disciplinary and methodologically rigorous tools needed to understand and analyze the interaction between political and economic forces around the world. These tools, as well as the substantive knowledge gained, serve students who pursue graduate work, careers in the private, public, or non-profit sector, or careers in international or non-governmental organizations. The IPEC major derives in part from the overlap between economics and political science. In addition, the IPEC major goes beyond these constituent disciplines and provides students with knowledge of a variety of areas including, but not limited to, the problems of globalization, the processes of economic development and reform, and the role of political power in economic policymaking.

Students acquire both analytical tools and substantive expertise through unique core courses as well as through foundational courses in international economics, international politics, economic theory, econometrics, and international political economy. Students also gain expertise in specific areas by further specializing in subsequent courses. All students apply analytical tools to a particular topic of interest by writing a senior thesis.


Substantively, International Political Economy analyzes how international and domestic political factors interact with economic factors to determine outcomes in a wide variety of areas.  The scope of inquiry ranges from mature capitalist countries to developing economies.  The focus is on issues that cannot be properly understood without insights gained from both international economics and international politics.  This requires an understanding of the methods and principal issues animating the areas in which these fields intersect.

To do this, students learn:

  • Quantitative and qualitative methods to make causal inferences regarding political-economic phenomena
  • The ways in which states and state-institutions help or hinder economic prosperity
  • How collective action in the presence of conflicting private interests can shape legislation, elections, and policy
  • The nature of unilateral and multilateral factors shaping international trade, finance, and aid
  • Original research and writing that identifies a puzzle, derives testable hypotheses, selects appropriate methodologies, gathers empirical evidence, and offers conclusions


  • Calculus I or equivalent
  • ECON-101/103 Intermediate Microeconomics
  • ECON-121 Economic Statistics
  • ECON-122 Introduction to Econometrics
  • GOVT-261 International Political Economy
  • PECO-201 Analytical Tools for Political Economy
  • Four IPEC Core or Supporting courses, at least two of which must be IPEC Core
  • IPEC-401 Senior Thesis Seminar

Writing in the Major

All students majoring in IPEC must write a senior thesis based on original research.  Students write the thesis in the Senior Capstone course (IPEC-401) and thus pursue their individual research projects as part of a cohort of scholars studying international political economy. 

Honors in International Political Economy

Students can earn Honors in the IPEC Major by submitting a letter of intent during the junior year, writing a thesis based on original research during the senior year, the thesis judged as honors quality, earning an A grade in the Senior Seminar, earning a major GPA of at least 3.67, and earning a cumulative GPA of at least 3.50.

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International Politics

The International Politics (IPOL) major examines how states and non-state actors cooperate and compete on political issues.  In contemporary geopolitics, there is no longer the stable hierarchy of issues that dominated policy makers’ and scholars’ attention during the Cold War period of 1945 through the late 1980s. Now, numerous non-security issues compete with security for the attention of policy makers, outside analysts, scholars, and citizens.

Goals of the Major

The International Politics major is designed to provide students with the substantive expertise and analytical skills necessary to understand, and become leaders in, the study and practice of world politics. The major provides all students with in-depth knowledge of the issues and actors that constitute three central arenas in international politics:

  • International Law, Institutions, and Ethics
  • International Security
  • Foreign Policy and Policy Processes

Students build their substantive expertise in these areas through in-depth foundational courses. Within each area, they are also expected to gain expertise on matters of particular interest to them by taking supporting courses in a wide range of specialized topics. In addition, all students are expected to master the analytical methods and statistical skills necessary to be productive consumers and producers of research in international politics.


The international political arena is dynamic. The ability to recognize the potential for cooperation and conflict among a diversity of state and non-state actors and then to choose and implement an appropriate policy response to the issue at hand requires a sophisticated and informed understanding of international politics as well as the skills to respond to unforeseen threats and opportunities. To be prepared to do so, students will be educated to do the following:

  • Understand, evaluate and apply the key concepts and scholarly research in international politics regarding the behavior of state and non-state actors in the international system.
  • Identify key institutions and dynamics in the development of the contemporary international system as well as their historical foundations and precedents.
  • Explicate and critique international and domestic political issues, dynamics, and events in clear and concise writing.
  • Analyze world political phenomena systematically using statistical methodologies to evaluate global trends and relationships.
  • Develop substantive and theoretical expertise necessary to understand, interpret, and explain complex current events and historical case studies in International or Foreign Policy.
  • Recognize important moral dimensions of world politics and apply ethical frameworks to the multifaceted challenges faced today.
  • Develop the substantive, analytical, and ethical skills necessary to anticipate emerging threats, challenges, and opportunities in the global arena and respond effectively.


The organization of the major addresses the principal building blocks of international politics today.

There are three major fields in which International Politics majors may concentrate:  1) International Law, Institutions, and Ethics;  2) International Security; or  3) Foreign Policy and Policy Processes.  Please note that although the majority of courses in the major are taught by political scientists, there are significant contributions from the Departments of History, Philosophy, Sociology, and Theology and Religious Studies, and from regional studies programs.

The eleven courses for the International Politics major are divided between a six-course concentration in one of the major fields (1–3) listed above, four additional courses drawn from at least two of the other concentrations, and a quantitative methodology course. The requirements are summarized as follows. See the website for detailed course listings.

  • INAF-320:  Quantitative Methods for International Affairs.
  • Six courses listed under the student’s major field.
  • Of these six courses, students must take one thematic concentration course.
    • Students pursuing a concentration in International Security must take at least one of the following courses:  GOVT-260:  International Security or IPOL-365: Military Security in World Politics.
    • Students pursuing a concentration in International Law, Institutions, and Ethics must take at least one of the following courses:  GOVT-263:  International Law; GOVT-262:  International Organizations;  or GOVT-460:  Ethical Issues in International Relations.
    • Students pursuing a concentration in Foreign Policy and Policy Processes must take at least one of the following courses:  GOVT-264:  Contemporary U.S. Foreign Policy;  HIST-282:  The US in the World to 1945;  or HIST-283: The US in the World after 1945.
  • Four additional courses listed under the other concentrations. Students may take a maximum of two supporting courses towards the concentration requirement. Courses must be drawn from at least two areas outside the major field.

Writing in the Major

Students majoring in IPOL fulfill the University’s integrated writing requirement through their coursework in the Government Department.  All seminars require students to conduct original research, formulate logical arguments, and present their arguments with supporting evidence in both short and long papers.

Honors in International Politics

Selection of honors candidates is based on evaluation of proposals submitted during the spring semester of junior year.

In order to graduate with honors in International Politics, a student must:

  • Earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 and a grade point average in the major of 3.67 by the date of graduation.
  • Successfully complete the honors seminar in International Politics offered in the fall semester. Please note that participation in this seminar is by invitation only.
  • Successfully complete a spring semester tutorial in which the senior thesis is prepared.
  • Submit a senior thesis on an approved topic that is judged to be of honors quality by a committee of faculty members chosen for this purpose.

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Regional and Comparative Studies

The major in Regional and Comparative Studies (RCST) allows students to focus on the detailed study of one (“Regional Studies”) or two (“Comparative Studies”) world regions:

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Western Europe
  • Latin America
  • the Middle East
  • the region comprising Russia, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe
  • the United States (comparative studies only)
  • the region comprising Australia, New Zealand & the Pacific (comparative studies only)

Goals of the Major

The study of a particular region or two regions is a vital enterprise that provides a student with insights into different societies that cannot be gained otherwise.  Understanding a region through intense study of its languages and cultures allows students to gain expertise that is invaluable in a globalizing world.  It is this focus that makes it possible to see crucial differences and similarities within and between regions.  Students, through the study of a region(s) of the world, become informed world citizens able to interpret the actions and policies of the areas they study.

Regional and Comparative Studies students develop the insight, knowledge and skills needed to deal effectively with far-reaching challenges of the contemporary world.  Given the largely self-defined nature of the major, students become responsible for their own education through grounding in core theory and methods courses and region-specific courses selected to explore a topic in greater depth.  The theoretical component and rigorous curriculum provide students with tools that serve virtually any profession, whether in the region(s) studied, or elsewhere. The literacy in language(s) and the understanding of political, economic, social and cultural realities permits them to do specialized work.  Graduates are prepared to enter careers in law, education, government, non-governmental organizations, and business to meet the needs of a broadening global vision.

The Regional and Comparative Studies major is designed to provide students with deep knowledge of one or two regions of the world so that they understand issues that occur on the world stage.  In Regional Studies students pursue a study of one region:  Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Western Europe, or the region comprising Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe.  Comparative Studies students pursue any two of these regions with additional options of the United States and the region comprising Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

Students receive training in theories and methods, typically from two different disciplines, to gain analytical tools for a detailed study of the region(s). Drawing from the disciplines of anthropology, economics, government, history, international affairs, linguistics, sociology, and theology and religious studies, students build a comprehensive groundwork in a self-identified theme within a region(s).  Students also acquire necessary language skills appropriate to the region(s) by taking a minimum of four semesters of language or by passing proficiency.

In the Regional and Comparative Studies major students design their own curriculum with the support of the curricular dean and a faculty mentor.  RCST students identify and explain a major theme in a region or regions and justify the value of its study.  Students construct an intellectual argument and propose a course list to enable a comprehensive multi-disciplinary study of the selected theme.  Through the mentoring of the curricular dean, the Faculty Field Chair and faculty, students receive guidance to undertake a meaningful study within a region(s).

Objectives of the Major

Through a diverse combination of courses centered on a theme, the RCST major prepares students to investigate and comprehend a topic of importance in a region(s). The Regional and Comparative major enables students to:

  • Understand on a theoretical and practical level different societies and their histories.
  • Develop analytical tools to understand and interpret a theme in a region or regions.
  • Analyze different aspects of societies outside of the United States.
  • Use the comparative method to assess the complexities of different regions of the world.
  • Identify, explore and evaluate an important theme through a comprehensive study across multiple disciplines.
  • Gain proficiency in a language(s) specific to a region(s).

Requirements of the Major

For Students Majoring in Regional Studies

  • Two courses from a preapproved list of theory and methods courses
  • Eight region-specific theme-related courses from one of the stand-alone regions
  • Four language courses or language proficiency of a language in the region

For Students Majoring in Comparative Studies

  • Two courses from a preapproved list of theory and methods courses
  • Four region-specific theme-related courses from each of the regions to be compared
  • Four language courses or language proficiency in one of the selected regions (English does not count towards this proficiency)

Writing in the Major

Students majoring in RCST develop writing skills throughout their major coursework.  When students declare their major, they write a significant essay identifying and explaining a theme to be explored within a region(s) of the world, which students develop and revise under the direction of the field chair and curricular dean.  In the major, all students receive training in theories and methods, typically from two different disciplines, to gain analytical tools for a detailed study of the region (s). These courses require students to complete various writing assignments honing students’ research, writing, and presentation skills.  In the summer between junior and senior years, RCST students complete a reflection exercise which offers an additional opportunity to hone their writing skills.  Finally, students who pursue an honors thesis gain significant experience in writing under the direction of a faculty mentor.

Honors in Regional and Comparative Studies

Selection of honors candidates is based on evaluations of proposals submitted during the spring semester of junior year.

In order to graduate with honors in Regional and Comparative Studies, a student must:

  • Earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 and a grade point average of 3.67 in the major by the date of graduation.
  • Successfully complete two semesters of tutorial work and participate in the thesis writers workshop dedicated to preparation of the thesis.
  • Submit a senior thesis on an approved topic which is judged to be of honors quality by a faculty committee appointed for this purpose.

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Science, Technology, and International Affairs

Now more than ever, science and technology are at the heart of international affairs. The Science, Technology, and International Affairs (STIA) major equips students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to engage with the challenges and opportunities this presents.  Students follow the regular SFS core curriculum, enroll in core science courses and develop an in-depth understanding of one of the STIA areas of concentration:  Energy and Environment;  Business, Growth and Development;  Biotechnology and Health;  or Science Technology and Security.  Pre-med and pre-engineering options are possible.  

Goals of the Major

While some of our graduates become scientists and doctors, the goal of the major is to create informed leaders who can engage with technology and take informed, ethical actions for the benefit of their companies and organizations, their countries and the world. 

The major does this by helping students:

  • complete a challenging introductory course that sets the stage for the major
  • study in depth issues in one of the major’s four concentrations
  • understand scientific methods, gain the confidence to work directly with science and technology scholarship, and round out a liberal arts education through a set of science, computer science and quantitative methods courses  
  • apply in everything they do the liberal arts training, ethical approaches, language requirements, and international perspectives from the regular core curriculum of the School of Foreign Service

Writing in the Major

A core part of the STIA major is learning how to translate science to non-science decision-making.  Students must learn to think critically and communicate what they learn effectively.  This requires being able to formulate meaningful questions, find information that will inform questions, evaluate information sources, effectively synthesize and analyze information, and present findings to varied audiences.

STIA students are expected to gain experience in discussion and debate, oral presentation, and, of course, advanced level writing. The STIA major seeks to help students build these communication competencies throughout the curriculum.   There are three primary components of the major that focus specifically on writing:

All STIA majors are required to take STIA-305/Intro to Science and Technology in the Global Arena.  By taking this gateway course, students move beyond the  fundamentals  of academic writing gained in SFS core courses and make progress in evaluating primary and secondary sources  and communicating science to non-scientists.

All STIA classes are expected to have at least one written assignment. Most classes have multiple writing assignments ranging from literature reviews to research proposals and full research papers to policy briefs, professional blogs and opinion pieces.

All STIA majors are required to complete either a STIA Senior Seminar or the STIA Honors Thesis Seminar. By completing this course, students are expected to generate original research questions, devise plans to test and prove their findings and present a convincing hypothesis to a diverse audience through a significant writing assignment.

Requirements for the STIA Major 

All STIA majors must complete a minimum of 12 courses in the major including:

  • STIA 305 – Science and Technology, in the Global Arena (to be taken in the sophomore year)
  • Two Lab Science/technology courses taken from biology, chemistry, physics or approved computer sciences
  • One mathematics or related quantitative course
  • One research or analytic methods course
  • Six courses chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor and Curricular Dean from a designated area of concentration.  At least two courses should have STIA prefixes.  Two may be additional science, computer science or math courses
  • A STIA Senior Capstone Course or Honors Thesis

STIA Concentrations and Some of the Topics Students Explore

Energy and Environment:  Climate change and geosciences, the transition to a new energy economy, global food supply and the water crisis. 

Business Growth and Development:  Transformative technologies and international competitiveness, innovation policy from Wall Street to nation-states, information technologies in development;  technology and entreperneurship. 

Biotechnology and Global Health:  The biotechnology revolution, emerging infectious disease, technology’s role in health care systems and health equity. 

Science, Technology and Security:  Nuclear proliferation, low and high tech terrorism, cyber security and cyber warfare, space and aerospace, and technology in military strategy.  

NOTE: Courses that count for STIA are published prior to pre-registration each semester and are listed on the BSFS website.

Honors in the Major

Selection of honors candidates is based on a research proposal to be submitted in the spring of the junior year, meeting minimum grade point requirements of 3.5 overall and 3.67 within STIA at the time of graduation, and successfully completing a thesis on an approved topic judged to be of honors quality by a faculty committee.

For more details, contact the STIA Director or the current Director of the Honors Program.

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