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 with a Fall 2013 and later catalogue year.

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 hte 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

  • Declare two concentrations, taking one gateway course and 2 other courses for each concentration
  • Must take one regional course
  • Must take one 400 level course (not including IR 491 or IR 499, prerequisite IR 210)

Foreign Language Requirement

  • Four semesters of a single foreign language are required

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. 


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