Contacts | Program of Study | Program Requirements | Summary of Requirements | Honors | Grading | Courses

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Program of Study

Please note that the Global Studies program will replace the International Studies program at the conclusion of the 2016–17 academic year. Current International Studies majors expecting to complete their degrees by Spring Quarter 2017 may graduate from the International Studies program. All other students will have the opportunity to major in Global Studies instead.

The undergraduate program in International Studies (IS) draws on the strengths of the College faculty in a variety of disciplines and their innovative work in a number of areas of international relevance (e.g., human rights, international relations, globalization, transnationalism, area studies) as well as their groundbreaking research studies of development and humanitarianism, knowledge production and local practices, political processes of production and consumption, mobility and tourism, global popular culture, and embodiment and collective experience. The program is designed to attract students who are preparing for academic, government, nonprofit, or business careers with an international focus, and who value the benefits of study abroad and of cross-cultural learning.

The program is organized around courses drawn from two thematic tracks and regional studies:

  1. international political economy (thematic)
  2. transnational processes (thematic)
  3. regional studies

Students should plan to complete their program within four years of study.

Study abroad experience is a requirement of the IS program. Students who are interested in pursuing the program should begin exploring appropriate plans early in their second year.

Program Requirements

Students must take the required thirteen courses according to the following five guidelines:

IS Introductory Sequence

Students are required to take a two-quarter introductory sequence, taught annually, in the field of international studies. One quarter provides an overview of contemporary global issues (INST 23101 Contemporary Global Issues I), and the other provides in-depth study of selected issues (INST 23102 Contemporary Global Issues II). These courses are designed to be taken in sequence. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the sequence in their second year, which allows them much more flexibility in selecting a program abroad in their third year.

International Political Economy Thematic Track (2 or 4 courses)

Nation-states and national sovereignty, relations between nation-states, political identity, development, conflict and security, and relations between states and international political (e.g., United Nations) and economic (World Bank, International Monetary Fund) organizations.

Transnational Processes Thematic Track (2 or 4 courses)

Courses appropriate for this track take up issues and processes that operate across the borders of nations. These include economic, political and cultural globalization, transnational and multinational corporations and new patterns of consumption, nongovernmental organizations, human rights, environment and ecology, media and the arts.

Regional Studies Track (3 courses)

Either three courses in one area of the world (but no more than two from the same country); or two courses in one area and one course in another area. Students majoring in IS may count one civilization studies course that bears a University of Chicago course number that is not used to meet the general education requirement in civilization studies.

Literature courses taken at the level of third-year language or above may count toward the area and civilization track. To be considered at the level of third-year language or above, a course must be at least the seventh quarter of a language sequence.

Course Distribution

Students are required to complete a total of thirteen courses in the following combination: two courses in the introductory core; six courses in the two thematic subfields (two in one and four in the other); three courses in regional studies, two of which must be in the same region of the world; and the two course BA seminar taught only in sequence in the autumn and winter quarters.

Students select their courses in consultation with the Program Administrator. The IS faculty selects courses each year that are accepted toward the major, and the list is posted on the program website quarterly.

Foreign Language

Students can meet the program's foreign language requirement in one of two ways:

  1. Students may complete the equivalent of seven quarters of language study in a single language. Credit for the seventh and final quarter must be earned by Chicago course registration. For information about the use of language as elective courses in the major, see the Course Distribution section above.
  2. Students may obtain an Advanced Language Proficiency Certificate, which is documentation of advanced functional ability in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. For details, visit the College's Advanced Language Proficiency page.

Study Abroad

Students are required to (1) complete a minimum of eight weeks of academic study in an approved study abroad program or (2) complete an approved internship or approved BA research project abroad. Students are strongly encouraged to integrate their study abroad into their BA thesis projects. The best ways of doing so are, in order of significance: independent research abroad, the Social Sciences Winter Quarter in Paris or Spring Quarter in Beijing, or a study abroad program that offers a practicum or internship. While useful for fulfilling the program requirement, the Civilization Abroad programs seldom allow time for independent fieldwork, research, or study. Participation in any study abroad program that is approved by the University of Chicago will fulfill this requirement; for more information, consult with the study abroad advisers or visit The requirement can be waived only by petition for students who are able to demonstrate a similarly significant, structured international education experience at the college level. Students wishing to undertake a program outside the University's offerings must obtain approval of the program director before departure. Students may not participate in a study abroad program in Autumn and Winter Quarters of their senior year.

Students born outside of the United States who have completed high school education in their country of birth may waive the study abroad requirement.

Second Year

Most second year IS majors will take the Contemporary Global Issues sequence (INST 23101-23102 Contemporary Global Issues I-II) during their Autumn and Winter Quarters. In addition, all prospective IS majors must meet with the Program Administrator during their Spring Quarter to declare the major and review their course of study.

Third Year

All students who are intending to major in International Studies should schedule a meeting with the Program Administrator during Autumn Quarter of their third year. During Winter Quarter, all third-year students will attend a required meeting with the Program Administrator. The purpose of this meeting is to provide information about the BA thesis and introduce students to the requirements and specific deadlines pertaining to the thesis. By the end of fifth week, students must have submitted a topic proposal, have secured a faculty reader, and have completed a faculty reader form and annotated bibliography. A copy of the approved proposal must be filed in the departmental office (Gates-Blake 119) or students will not be eligible to register for the BA seminar. Students who are not in residence Spring Quarter of their third year should correspond with the Program Administrator about their plans for the BA paper before the end of Spring Quarter.

Fourth Year

Students are required to complete a BA thesis, finish their course work, and enroll in the two BA thesis seminars in the Autumn and Winter Quarters.

In their fourth year, students register for the autumn and winter BA Thesis Seminars (INST 29800-29801). The seminars teach research skills and more generally aid the research and writing process. Both INST 29800 BA Thesis (Autumn Seminar) and INST 29801 BA Thesis (Winter Seminar) count toward the thirteen courses required for the major. The final version of the BA thesis is due by the second Friday of the quarter in which the student plans to graduate. Successful completion of the thesis requires a passing grade from the faculty reader.

Beginning with the Class of 2016, the IS major thesis must be clearly organized around a contemporary global issue. Students may still double-major, but double-majoring with another program that requires a BA thesis would entail (a) the second major's program accepting the IS thesis as fulfilling their program's BA requirements, or (b) the student completing an additional BA thesis for their second major.

Regardless of the requirements of the second major, IS majors are required to complete both quarters of the fourth-year BA seminar.

Summary of Requirements

Two International Studies introductory courses200
Contemporary Global Issues I
Contemporary Global Issues II
Two Thematic courses (one subfield)200
Four Thematic courses (second subfield)400
Three Regional Studies courses300
INST 29800BA Thesis (Autumn Seminar)100
INST 29801BA Thesis (Winter Seminar)100
Total Units1300


On the basis of a recommendation from the faculty reader, students with an overall GPA of 3.2 or higher and a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the major will be considered for honors. For award of honors, the BA thesis must be judged "high pass" by the faculty thesis adviser.


Students who are majoring in IS must receive quality grades (i.e., not P or N) in all courses meeting the requirements of the degree program.

International Studies Courses

INST 27702. About Nature: From Science to Sense. 100 Units.

“Consider mushrooms,” Anna Tsing (2012) suggests to those who are curious about human nature as she points to the relational and biological diversity found at the unruly edges of the global empire—the governmentalized, politicized, commoditized culture nature of capitalism. This course follows the suit, tracking the scent of what evidently remains, thrives, withdraws, overwhelms, and inspires wonder in the guises of the natural, wild, organic, or awesome. About Nature starts with critiques of the essentialized Nature in the modernist, theological, and scientific discourses, but it directs attention elsewhere: to the zones of writing and practice, academic and activist, professional and popular, where the natural figures through theoretical insights, empirical observations, or in practical problems; where it materializes in sensuous encounters, knowledgeable collecting, or ecstatic experiences; and where it rallies communities of inquiry and interest. The reading list mixes ethnographies with literary, philosophical, and “mystical” texts and pairs anthropological discussions with practical manuals and popular science books. Moreover, the course will look obliquely to the natural sciences—botany, environmental sciences, and entomology—presuming neither their thorough disenchantment nor a merely performative and populist value of scientific “wonder” and curiosity.

Instructor(s): L. Jasarevic     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): ANTH 25117,GLST 27702

INST 29700. Reading and Research. 100 Units.

This is a reading and research course for independent study not related to BA research or BA paper preparation.

Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter, Spring
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor and program director.
Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course form. As part of this process students must specify in which of the three tracks (International Political Economy, Transnational Processes, or Area and Civilization Studies) they would like the course to count.

INST 29800. BA Thesis (Autumn Seminar) 100 Units.

This weekly seminar, taught by graduate student preceptors in consultation with faculty readers, is designed to aid students in their thesis research. Students are exposed to different conceptual frameworks and research strategies. Students must have approved topic proposals and faculty readers to participate in the seminar.

Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): INST 23102 and consent of instructor.
Note(s): Required of students with fourth-year standing who are majoring in IS, but enrollment not permitted in quarter of graduation.

INST 29801. BA Thesis (Winter Seminar) 100 Units.

This weekly seminar, taught by graduate student preceptors in consultation with faculty readers, offers students continued BA research and writing support. Students present drafts of their work and critique the work of their peers.

Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): INST 29800 and consent of instructor.
Note(s): Required of students with fourth-year standing who are majoring in IS, but enrollment not permitted in quarter of graduation.

INST 29900. BA Thesis (Reading and Research) 100 Units.

This is a reading and research course for independent study related to BA research and BA thesis preparation.

Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter, Spring
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor and program director.
Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course form. This course cannot be used to substitute for either quarter of the BA Thesis Seminar (INST 29800, INST 29801).


Undergraduate Primary Contact

Program Director
James Hevia
G-B 116

Administrative Contact

Program Administrator
Joshua Oxley
G-B 119

Secondary Contact

Senior Lecturer
Larisa Jasarevic
G-B 123