The International Relations Major

Future Leaders in government, business, and law need to understand how global developments affect their lives and work. The International Relations major provides the conceptual tools you will need to thrive in the fast-changing world of tomorrow. It is an ideal major for those interested in entering the public policy realm or the business world. It is an excellent stepping stone toward graduate programs in foreign affairs, law, public administration, public policy, urban planning, political science and business.

A graduate majoring in International Relations can expect to achieve the following learning objectives:

  • A development of critical thinking skills through a study of the basic workings of the international system­how power is organized, who the key players are and what role they play--while specializing in one of the following sub-fields of international relations: security studies; international political economy; foreign policy analysis; and culture, gender and global society.
  • An understanding of the development of the interdisciplinary field of international relations including the major theoretical approaches.
  • An ability to apply the theories of international relations to current events and policy concerns in the context of an appreciation of the diversity of worldviews held by various stakeholders. 
  • An appreciation of politics and society outside of the United States through a concentration in a major world region and/or a study or internship experience abroad.
  • An ability to identify opportunities for civic engagement and participation in the policy processes at local and global levels.
  • A fourth semester competency in a foreign language.
  • A beginning competency in qualitative or quantitative research methods, including an understanding of the issues of ethics, objectivity, and contending perspectives in research.
  • The ability to conceive, research and write a research paper (or policy task force memo) through a 400-level course. 

This is an excerpt from the USC Catalogue. The USC Catalogue is the document of authority for all students. The program requirements listed in the USC Catalogue supersede any information which may be contained in any bulletin of any school or department. The university reserves the right to change its policies, rules, regulations, requirements for graduation, course offerings and any other contents of this catalogue at any time.

Major Requirements

*Below are the requirement for students entering in Fall 2015 and after

4 Lower Division Core Courses in the first year (corequisites):

  • IR210: IR Introductory Analysis (a prerequisite for 400 courses)
  • IR 212: Historical Approaches to International Relations (IR 210 & 212 must be completed withing the first year)
  • IR 211: International Relations: Approaches to Research
  • IR 213: The Global Economy (IR 211 & IR 213 must be completed within the second year)

8 Upper Division Courses

  • One course from each of the IR fields
  • One regional course regional course (must be an IR-prefix course)
  • Must take one 400 level course (not including IR 491 or IR 499, prerequisite IR 210)
  • Two upper division electives from any IR field or region

Foreign Language Requirement

  • Four semesters of a single foreign language are required (must be taken for a letter grade)

Additional restrictions:

  • Maximum two courses (8 units) of IR 499 Special Topics Courses may be applied toward the major.
  • Maximum two courses (8 units) may be shared between two majors, when applicable.
  • Maximum two courses (8 units) of IR-Related courses may be applied toward the major. 

Major Requirements: Students Entering Fall 2013 to Spring 2015

Follow the link to the USC Catalogue to learn more about the IR major requirements.

Major Requirements: Students Entering Spring 2013 and Bfore

Follow the link to the USC Catalogue to learn more about the IR major requirements.


Contact an undergraduate advisor in VKC 301:

(213) 740-6278
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  • School of International Relations
  • 3518 Trousdale Parkway
  • Von KleinSmid Center 330
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0043
  • Phone: (213) 740 - 2136