The International Studies Program offers a multidisciplinary approach to international issues and global connections. International studies majors are informed, involved, and resourceful. They are able to:

  • recognize that the complexity of current world conditions requires a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving
  • analyze and synthesize information about key topics related to their chosen major track
  • demonstrate intellectual open-mindedness when addressing global issues, and
  • apply cross-cultural skills when engaging respectfully with people from other countries and diverse communities in the United States.

Why Study at Iowa

Students in the International Studies Program tailor the major to their unique interests and goals by choosing a track, a world language, and a capstone option. The tracks combine courses from the social sciences, humanities, and arts to focus on a world region or an important global issue. 

International studies students also are encouraged to develop real-world intercultural skills by studying abroad, engaging locally with international communities, completing internships, participating in service learning, and conducting research. 

As a second major, international studies can add cross-cultural skills and perspectives to degrees in business, health sciences, journalism, and the arts. Through academic and co-curricular experiences, students become prepared to positively contribute to the world. 

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 multidisciplinary and designed to help students develop global perspectives and skills required for life and careers in the 21st century. 

Course work for the major begins with an introduction to international studies and three foundation courses chosen from the social sciences, humanities, and the arts. The Designing Your International Studies Major course allows students to explore academic and co-curricular opportunities which help them to define and achieve their post-graduation goals. 

Language study is important when crossing cultural and geographic boundaries so international studies majors must complete course work beyond the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences CORE 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.

Students complete in-depth course work chosen from a wide range of disciplines approved for one of the tracks listed below. Students also may develop their own track in consultation with a faculty mentor. 

  • African Studies
  • Caribbean Studies
  • Development
  • East Asian Studies
  • European Studies
  • Global Health Studies
  • Global Resources and the Environment
  • Global South and Diasporic Studies
  • International Business
  • International Communication and Information
  • International Human Rights
  • Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Latin American 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 in a second track, completing a senior project or honors thesis with a faculty mentor, or combining an experiential learning activity (such as study abroad or an internship) with course work on world travel and international careers. 

While an international experience is not required for this major, there are many UI resources, such as UI Study Abroad and the Pomerantz Career Center, which help students connect to global opportunities, both locally and around the world.

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 for more information.

Admission Requirements

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

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Undergraduate Research Opportunities such as the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates Fellowship and the Stanley Award for International Research.

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 or intern 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 international writer-in-residence programs, lectures, plays, films, and group discussions.

Study Abroad

International studies majors are encouraged to study or intern abroad. International experience is a powerful asset for a successful career in any field. 

Students work closely with the international studies academic adviser to ensure that academic credit earned while studying abroad can be applied to the international studies major. 

Students are 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.

Visit for detailed program information.


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.

The flexible structure of the international studies major allows students to personalize the degree to fit a range of academic interests and career goals. International studies graduates find employment in a variety of career sectors such as education, non-profits or non-government organizations, business, government, and translation or interpreting. Many international studies graduates go on to graduate or professional study in law, public health, urban and regional planning, higher education, and international development.

Graduates also have used their cross-cultural interdisciplinary education to win prestigious awards such as the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, the Gilman Scholarship, the Princeton in Latin America Fellowship, and the Critical Language Scholarship. 


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
14 Tracks Focused on Global Issues and Regions (see Course Work)
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan