International studies goes beyond studying diplomacy and relations between states. It combines theories about global processes with in-depth examination of world regions and related themes. It also involves examination of social systems, history, politics, economics, expressive arts, culture, beliefs, and other aspects of life that distinguish each of the world's regions.

International studies majors are informed, involved, career oriented, and well traveled. They are able to:

  • communicate thoughts and ideas in a language or culture other than their own,
  • think beyond their immediate surroundings,
  • critically examine current and historic global events, and
  • make important decisions that will affect them and people around the world.

Why Study at Iowa?

Students in the International Studies Program choose an international studies track (such as African studies or human rights) and take classes from a wide range of departments in the humanities and social sciences to fulfill degree requirements. These areas include geography, art and art history, anthropology, business, economics, journalism, political science, history, and religious studies.

International studies also may complement majors in other departments. The combination of international studies courses and focused tracks gives you a global understanding and empowers you to apply your knowledge in a specific context.

All international studies students at Iowa receive personalized, one-on-one advising from the Academic Advising Center staff during their first year and from the International Studies Program throughout their college experience. International studies students have quality time with faculty, too. A faculty mentor who shares your interests will be available to discuss issues in your field and work with you if you choose to complete a senior project or honors thesis.

Course Work

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in international studies is interdisciplinary and designed to help students prepare for life and work in the international arena.

Language proficiency is vital for encountering and participating in diverse societies and cultures, so international studies majors must complete language study beyond what is required by the General Education Program's world languages requirement.

While study abroad is not required, it is strongly encouraged. Academic credit earned while studying abroad may be applied to the international studies major.

Course work for the major begins with an introduction to international studies course and three foundation courses, all of which introduce students to major issues in international studies and the disciplinary and interdisciplinary methods used to examine them.

It also includes a "designing your international studies major" course which requires students to explore academic and co-curricular choices in order to intentionally plan their college career and help prepare them for life after college.

You’ll do substantial course work in an international studies track, which you'll choose from the list below (or you may develop one in consultation with a faculty mentor).

  • African Studies
  • Caribbean Studies
  • Development
  • East Asian Studies
  • European Studies
  • Global Artistic Tradition & Change
  • Global Health Studies
  • Global Resources & the Environment
  • International Business
  • International Communication & Information
  • International Human Rights
  • Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Latin American Studies
  • Postcolonial & Diasporic Studies
  • Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies
  • South Asian Studies

International studies students also complete one of three program options which complete the major. The options include completing additional international studies course work; completing a senior project or honors thesis; or combining an experiential learning activity (such as study abroad or related volunteer work) with two writing courses.

See International Studies in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the major and graduating with honors.

Minor in International Studies

See International Studies in the UI General Catalog.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in the International Studies major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to having nearly 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

International studies students have many options to get involved, on and off campus. You may choose to be a Global Buddy to a new international student, brush up your language skills at one of the many language department conversation hours, or volunteer with a community organization dedicated to international understanding, such as the Iowa United Nations Association, Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, or the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities.

The university hosts a variety of activities related to international studies, including lectures, plays, films, international writer-in-residence programs, and group discussions.

Study Abroad

International studies majors are encouraged to study or intern abroad. Each international studies student is eligible to apply for the many resources available through UI Study Abroad, where staff can help you plan an experience that fits your interests and academic goals. They'll also guide you in applying for study abroad funding.


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

International studies students graduate with many marketable skills. When you tell a potential employer that you have completed this major, you are letting them know that you have language and cross-cultural communication skills, are not afraid to try new things and adapt to different environments, are willing to accept a challenge, and are aware of the larger world around you.

International experience is a powerful asset for a successful career. International studies offers preparation for employment in organizations such as the Peace Corps, U.S. Foreign Service, multinational corporations, and in areas such as overseas teaching. Many students go on to pursue graduate or professional study.


The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


International Studies (BA)
International Studies
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan