A global perspective

Global Studies is an interdisciplinary major at USC, that draws on a foundational study in anthropology and related disciplines including political science, international relations, history, foreign languages and religion. It offers students the opportunity to learn about the world from a variety of academic perspectives and to make connections among them. Along with the required core and collateral courses, the elective units allow sufficient flexibility to complete course prerequisites for regional and area studies programs, law school, and business school.

The B.A. in Global Studies offers an interdisciplinary perspective on global issues and problems, while also providing opportunities for cross-cultural engagement and real-world learning.

Global Studies challenges students to examine their place within a complex globalized world, and to explore how they can act to make a difference. Awareness of global issues enables Global Studies majors to advocate effectively and responsibly for peace, human rights, environmental preservation and economic equality. Studying complex connections between the local and the global, from consumption patterns to resource-based conflicts, they prepare for careers in policy, law, public health, government, business, social justice, social advocacy and international aid.

Interior of monumental building



The Global Studies major is built to allow students to pursue study abroad and experiential learning opportunities, and to do original research. In order to prepare for this experience, students are encouraged to take courses in the culture, language, history, and politics of a region, and develop a plan for an independent research project that will be the subject of their senior capstone. The capstone project provides an opportunity bring together insights gained from coursework as well as from independent research and place it into comparative perspective.

  • Experiential Learning: In addition to specific course work, students in the Global Studies major are expected to engage in curricular experiential learning, such as by completing a minimum of one intensive internship (such as 4 credits or more of ANTH 393), one semester of study abroad, or equivalent.  Ideally, a student will spend one summer and one semester engaged in experiential learning prior to the senior year. Approved experiential learning courses include ANTH 325 and ANTH 393, as well as Problems Without Passports and many Maymester courses. Your academic adviser can provide more information on approved experiential learning options.
  • Language Requirement: Language proficiency is an important foundation for cross-cultural learning. For this reason, Global Studies majors are required to have or acquire at least intermediate conversational proficiency in a language not already familiar to them. The language requirement can be fulfilled in several ways: by completing a study abroad language immersion program at least eight weeks in length, by completing an oral examination administered by a qualified language instructor, or by completing an additional 8 units of language courses (in addition to the 8 units required of all USC Dornsife students).
  • Capstone Project and Seminar: The capstone project is the final requirement for the Global Studies major. It is a cumulative project that draws upon the experiential learning and coursework completed for the major. Students complete the capstone project while enrolled in an approved 4-unit capstone seminar.


This is the recommended sequence of study for Global Studies Majors:

First Year
  • ANTH 205 Introduction to Global Studies and Cross-Cultural Research. Examines the effects of globalization on social life in diverse communities, approaching related issues from an ethnographic perspective. Gateway course for the Global Studies Major. Students are oriented to themes that they can explore in their own research.
  • Students are encouraged to take foreign language coursework and courses about their region of interest — its history, religion, politics, international relations and literature.
  • Experiential learning: Most students will have their first cross-cultural  experience after the freshman year, as a Maymester course or a summer study abroad program.
Second Year
  • Research methods coursework: ANTH 325 Global Studies Research Methods, introduces students to methods for field research in international settings include ethnography, archival work, surveying and documentation. Global Studies majors may also enroll in ANTH 410 Ethnographic Research Methods to fulfill the methods coursework requirement.
  • Students take more foreign language and additional thematic courses on the list of approved courses.
Third Year
  • ANTH 415 Global Issues Seminar (Fall). Advanced seminar on a key theme or topic in Global Studies. Seminar focus is selected by the instructor and changes with each offering. May be completed Junior or Senior year. 
  • Experiential learning: Most students will spend the junior year engaged in experiential learning including internships and/or study abroad. Many students will spend the junior year overseas, in either a semester or year long program in a region that they have already studied in coursework. Study abroad students will have a local advisor in the country (selected by the Study Abroad Office) and a regional scholar advisor at USC who will help them to develop their own overseas research project.
Senior Year
  • ANTH 485 Global Studies Capstone Seminar (Spring) provides senior Global Studies majors with the practical and theoretical skills needed to complete the required capstone project in Global Studies.

Course Requirements

Students take a sequence of four courses offered through the Anthropology department:

  • ANTH 205 Introduction to Global Studies and Cross-Cultural Research
  • ANTH 325 Global Studies Research Methods (ANTH 375 or 410 may be substituted)
  • ANTH 415 Global Issues Seminar
  • ANTH 485 Global Studies Capstone Seminar

Global Studies majors also take six more elective courses, including an experiential learning course or study-abroad program (such as one summer or May term and one semester or year as a junior). Typically in the junior or senior year, students complete Global Issues Seminar (Anth 415), and then complete capstone project in their senior year (ANTH 485), usually a written thesis.

Substitutions are allowed of other courses that would suit the student’s interests with the approval of the Academic Advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Search for “Global Studies” in the current Course Catalog for a full listing of recommended electives.

Senior Capstone & Thesis Guidelines

Candidates for the Global Studies degree are required to complete a senior capstone project, usually a written thesis. See the guidelines sheet for more information:

Honors Program in Global Studies:

Candidates for the Honors Program in Global Studies are expected to:

  • Maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 GPA both in the university as a whole, and in the courses that qualify for the Global Studies major (a USC honors requirement).
  • Complete an Honors Thesis that is certified by its two faculty readers in Global Studies or Anthropology as of honors level.

For more information on the Honors Program in Global Studies, see the Global Studies Capstone/Thesis guidelines above.

Experiential Learning Resources

Study Abroad

Global Studies majors are encouraged to have a study abroad experience during the course of their college years. USC students have the opportunity to study abroad during for a semester or a year in one of programs offered in over 30 countries. For more information about the study abroad programs available, visit the Overseas Studies website.


Maymester, Julymester & Problems Without Passports

USC provides a range of exceptional opportunities for research and experiential learning off campus, throughout the United States, or even abroad. There are stand alone courses listed in the schedule of classes, which can be taken in May (Maymester), July (Julymester) or during the academic year. Global Studies majors have the opportunity to register for three courses during the spring semester and one course in Maymester. Learn more about student travel abroad here, or search for courses here.

Most, if not all, of the societal problems or challenges we face are transnational or global in nature. These problems like global climate change, pandemics or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are global challenges that do not belong to a single country.  These are “problems without passports.”

USC students have the opportunity to participate in a number of Problems Without Passports (PWP) courses that combine problem-based or inquiry learning research exercises with study in a foreign country, Washington D.C., or Los Angeles.   PWP courses are usually offered during the summer.  Global Studies students who apply for a PWP program are eligible to apply for the USC Dornsife Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) which provides students with a research stipend of up to $3000.  PWP courses are listed at dornsife.usc.edu/problems-without-passports/.

Foreign Language Study Options

As part of the USC Dornsife foreign language requirement, Global Studies majors are required to complete the equivalent of four semesters of a single foreign language.  Foreign language study is required even of those students who are native speakers of a language other than English, or who have completed two years of secondary school in a language other than English.  Being a global citizen requires having communication skills in another language and learning about another way of seeing the world as it is reflected in a foreign language.

The USC Center for Languages and Cultures provides more specific information on the range and levels language instruction and the specific courses available: https://dornsife.usc.edu/center-for-languages-and-cultures/usc-languages/ 

Questions & Contact

If you have questions about the Global Studies major, please contact: