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Academic Requirements

For Our Majors


The Major:

The International Studies major is an intensive, interdisciplinary program with five required elements:

1. 13 four-credit courses, taken across at least five academic departments;

2. foreign language study beyond the College-wide requirement;

3. a semester-long study-abroad experience;

4. an experiential learning activity; and

5. the senior thesis.

IS majors are encouraged to pursue a minor in either a regional or functional area, to add focus and depth to their course of study.  Regional minors are offered in African, Asian, European, Latin American, and Near Eastern Studies.  Functional minors in Global Business and Peace and Conflict Studies also are recommended.


1. 13 required four-credit courses:

  • Anthropology 105. Introduction to Anthropology
  • Economics 111. Introduction to Macroeconomics (should be completed in the first year)
  • Economics 218. Economic Development (typically offered fall semester only)
  • History 203, 204, 205, or 206. Modern World History I or II  or Early Origins of Western Civilization I or II. [Previously numbered 101, 102, 103, 104.]
  • Political Science 104. Introduction to World Politics
  • BUS 310. International Business
  • BUS 311. Global Business Strategy
  • ECN 410. International Trade
  • ECN 411. International Finance
  • POL 375. International Political Economy
  • An equivalent course taken abroad
  • POL 201. Theories of Peace and Conflict
  • POL 371. International Politics
  • POL 374. International Organization and Law
  • An equivalent course taken abroad
  • These courses are offered in a wide range of academic departments at Washington College and abroad, including Anthropology, Business Management, Economics, History, and Political Science as well as most foreign language courses above the 302 level and courses in departments such as Art, English, Philosophy, and others.
  • A list of pre-approved courses is published in the on-line schedule of classes each semester.
  • At least three of these courses are typically completed during the required study abroad component of the major.
  • INT 401. International Studies Seminar (taken in the first semester of the senior year)

2. Foreign language requirement

Option One

Completion of a 202-level or higher language course at Washington College oXr abroad

Option Two completion of at least four credits of study of an approved language not taught at Washington College while studying abroad.  (This option may also require students to separately fulfill the College-wide foreign language requirement.)

Note (1): students with a documented learning accommodation related to language acquisition may substitute two additional courses towards this requirement.

Note (2): majors may also count foreign language courses above the 302 level toward the five upper-level elective courses for the major, as discussed under the 13-course requirement above.

3. Semester abroad requirement

Majors must study abroad for one semester at one of the programs offered through the Global Education Office before the fall of the student’s senior year.

Note (1): students must attain a GPA of at least 2.5 to be considered for study abroad.  Failure to achieve this GPA by the fourth semester at Washington College will require students to pursue a different major.

Note (2): a combination of short-term study abroad programs shall not be substituted for this requirement, though short-term study abroad does satisfy the experiential learning requirement discussed below.

Note (3): students may petition the Director of International Studies to pursue a semester-long equivalent at a non-Washington College program to satisfy this requirement, though ordinarily this would require withdrawal from the College during the time of this experience (apart from a semester-long summer experience).



4. Experiential learning requirement    

Majors must complete one experience from an approved list of activities, including an internship or volunteer work related to international studies, study abroad beyond the one-semester requirement, or an off-campus Model United Nations simulation.  A worksheet that details how majors have completed this requirement must be submitted once this activity is completed.   Note: An internship or volunteer work should consist of at least 80 hours of work and may or may not be pursued for academic credit.    


Completion of a relevant internship related to international studies and approved by the Director of International Studies (either credit or non-credit bearing). Credit-bearing internships include formally structured programs such as The Washington Center Internship Program in Washington, DC and the Hansard Programme in London, both of which are competitive and have minimum GPA requirements (see the catalog course listings for more information on these programs). The International Studies program also coordinates a structured summer internship experience in Tanzania. Students also may arrange their own internship experience related to international studies, in conjunction with a study abroad experience or over a summer or winter break in the United States (or even during the academic year).

The basic expectation for an internship is that students are engaged in meaningful work for a total of approximately 80 hours — ie., one full day a week for 10 weeks, two half-days for ten weeks, or a two-week full-time intensive experience. Students also may work with an international studies faculty member to develop course credit for an internship experience if the experience is paired with related scholarly readings and writing. Please note: to earn college credit for an international studies internship, arrangements for credit, including the completion of a learning contract, must be made PRIOR to the start of the internship. An international studies faculty member must agree to design and supervise a for-credit internship — it is not an entitlement.

See The Career Center 


Model Programs

Participation in a Model Diplomacy or Model UN program together with the requisit two-credit course component.

View Course Catalogue

 Courses Examples

  • POL 471: Model Diplomacy 
  • POL 473:  Model United Nations

Volunteer Activity

Completion of a substantial volunteer or advocacy activity outside of course requirements that is related to international studies and has been approved by the Director of International Studies. Regular participation in student clubs, such as the International Studies Council or Amnesty International, does not count. The time commitment for this option is similar to that specified in the internship option above.


 Additional Study Abroad

Participation in an additional semester or summer program of study abroad — beyond the one semester required of all International Studies majors. Please contact the Global Education Office, your faculty advisor, and/or the Director of International Studies for ideas on how to supplement your first semester abroad with additional study abroad. For example, students may wish to remain in the same location to develop greater language fluency, or to experience a different part of the world beyond one’s primary focus of study in order to develop a broader understanding of issues in international studies.

Global Education Office 


5. Senior capstone requirement (SCE)

The International Studies program offers a choice of two options to complete the senior capstone requirement: a 30-page minimum research-based thesis, or a self-designed project. Under many circumstances, double-majors may complete a single combined capstone project if that is their preference. The SCE must be completed over two semesters under the direction of an assigned capstone advisor. Ordinarily students initiate the project together with the required International Studies Seminar (INT 401) during the fall semester of the senior year.

Note: Students who wish to complete their studies at Washington College in the fall semester must begin working on their senior capstone project in the preceding spring semester under the direction of an assigned capstone advisor. Under no circumstances may an SCE be initiated and completed in one semester.


Additional lower-level coursework related to International Studies

Several academic departments offer introductory-level courses that nicely complement the International Studies program and may satisfy College-wide distribution requirements for our majors.  Such courses include:

  • Philosophy 111,112. Comparative Religion: Western/Eastern
  • Art 200. Introduction to the History of Western Art
  • Music 104. Introduction to World Music.


There is no minor in International Studies.

Both IS majors and non-majors are encouraged to pursue a minor in either a regional or functional area.  Regional minors are offered in Asian, European, Latin American, and Near Eastern Studies.  Functional minors in Global Business and Peace and Conflict Studies also are recommended.