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Maxwell School
Maxwell / International Relations Program

Requirements for the B.A. in International Relations

Graduation 2017The mission of the undergraduate major in International Relations (IR) is to provide students with the research, analytic, cultural, and linguistic skills needed to understand major developments in contemporary world affairs, to function effectively in a global environment, and to prepare for further academic or professional study and international career opportunities.  The multidisciplinary program provides students with analytical tools and approaches from different disciplines - primarily the social sciences (Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History, Political Science, and Sociology) - to explore contemporary issues and to conceptualize global citizenship.  


Requirements for the major include either 33 or 36 credit hours in international relations plus demonstrated proficiency in a modern second language. The major is grouped in 4 sets of courses: 3 required introductory courses, 3 advanced courses in your geographic region of choice, 3 advanced courses in your topic of choice, a research methods course, and a senior seminar in which students complete an original capstone research project.

To connect you with the global marketplace, credits for internships in international relations may be earned for IRP 471, Global Internship in Washington, or in one of Syracuse's Study Abroad programs, as approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.


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Introductory Course Work

  • PSC 124, International Relations OR PSC 139, International Relations Honors (3 credits)
  • ECN 203, Economic Ideas and Issues (3 credits) OR ECN 101/102 Introductory Micro/Macroeconomics (6 credits)
  • MAX 132, Global Community, OR ANT 185, Global Encounters (3 credits)

Please note: To be eligible to declare a major in International Relations, a student must first complete at least one (1) of these required courses with a grade of "B" or better.  To officially declare the major, students who have met this requirement should schedule an advising appointment

Advanced Course Work

Eighteen credits must be in courses numbered 300 or above devoted to two concentrations within the major.

Geographic Concentration
Each student chooses a geographic region concentration in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America & the Caribbean, or the Middle East-North Africa (MENA).  Nine credit hours are taken in courses addressing the chosen geographic region.

Topic Concentration
Each student also chooses a topic concentration.  Topics include:  Intercultural Communication (ICC), International Security and Diplomacy  (ISD), International Law and Organizations (ILO), and International Political Economy (IPE). Nine credit hours are taken in courses addressing the chosen topic.


Research Methods and Capstone Research Project

The remaining six credits must include one research methods course and a senior seminar or honors seminar in which the student prepares a capstone research project.  Student majors must complete one social science research methods course from a list of courses approved by the International Relations Program.  The methods course must be appropriate for the student's topic concentration and proposed capstone project.  The capstone research project is undertaken in an approved senior seminar (such as IRP 400 or 412), the IR Distinction Program or the Renée Crown University Honors program (IRP 499) on an appropriate international theme, as approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies in International Relations.


Second Language

In addition to the 33 or 36 credit hours required in courses in International Relations, each student major must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English.  It is encouraged that this language be spoken in the geographic area chosen for concentration.  Proficiency must be demonstrated either by placement examination or by coursework to at least the equivalent of Course IV (202) and beyond (sixteen credit hours).  We strongly encourage, however, that students pursue language study to a level of full literacy and fluency. 


IRLC site visit 2017Additional Programs

International relations majors are encouraged to study abroad during part of their undergraduate program. SU Abroad offers a rich variety of courses which can be applied to the IR major requirements. In addition, participation in the Maxwell-Washington International Relations Semester, a 15-credit seminar and internship program in Washington, D.C., is highly recommended. Email inquiries to  

Participation in extracurricular activities, such as the International Relations Learning Community, our International Relations Honor Society Sigma Iota Rho, Model UN, colloquia, and related community activities, is also encouraged.


Minor Programs

Minor programs in Global Political Economy and Global Security Studies are available to International Relations students as well as all other university students.  Please register with Dr. Northrup.


Affiliated Minors

There are currently several minor programs offered in other administrative units that are affiliated with the International Relations Program.  These include the minor in Nonviolent Conflict and Change administered by the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC) as well as area studies minors in African/African-American Studies, Latin American Studies, Middle East Studies, Russian and Central/Eastern European Studies, and South Asian Studies. 


Please note: In order to graduate with this major, the final GPA in the major must be 2.0 or better in accordance with University policy.