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Educating Global Citizens and Leaders

International Relations Major

Group of students in front of flags at the UN

of international relations majors complete at least one semester away from campus


study abroad programs are offered through Syracuse University and the World Partner Programs


study in D.C. at the top-ranked Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank

Core Introductory Courses

IR majors must earn a B or better in one of the three introductory courses (9 credits) listed below. These foundational courses will help you better understand the societal complexity that exists within the field of international relations.

  • PSC 124 International Relations or PSC 139 Honors International Relations (3 credits)
  • ECN 101 Introductory Microeconomics (3 credits) or ECN 102 Introductory Macroeconomics (3 credits)
  • MAX 132 Global Community or ANT 185 Global Encounters: Comparing World Views & Values Cross-Culturally (3 credits)

Foreign Language

Proficiency in a second language is essential to developing an adequate understanding of other cultures and people, to gain access to primary sources, and to prepare for study abroad and future careers in international affairs. The IR Program recommends that students study a language that matches their chosen regional concentration.

IR majors must demonstrate language proficiency by completing coursework through the 202 level or by demonstrating proficiency equivalent to that level, confirmed by Syracuse University’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

Research Methods

Learn to evaluate scholarly academic research and prepare to produce your own analysis through the completion of two research methods courses. IR majors are encouraged to seek training in the method(s) that will be most relevant to their senior capstone projects.

Senior Seminar/Capstone

Complete an original substantive research project that combines your topic and region concentrations, in the context of an approved 400-level research seminar offered by the IR Program or by any of the social science departments within the Maxwell School. On occasion, our students are able to publish their research in undergraduate academic journals.


  • Culture, Identities and Citizenship
  • Global Health and Environment
  • Human Rights
  • International Law and Organizations
  • International Political Economy
  • International Security and Diplomacy
  • Migration
  • Technology and Global Politics
  • Regional Studies focused on one of the following regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and North Africa, or The Americas

Looking for a more complete list of course offerings in international relations?

Student outside in front of lines of flags

Study Abroad

With more than 60 locations to choose from, Syracuse University students have a world of options. Choose from pre-approved IR courses that will satisfy requirements for the major in the following Syracuse Abroad locations:

  • Central Europe (Wroclaw, Poland)
  • Florence, Italy
  • London, England
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Strasbourg, France

Or speak with your advisor about course selections available at 50 additional locations offered through the World Partner Programs (WPP).

Study in Washington, D.C.

Our D.C. headquarters at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, top-ranked by the Global Go To Think Tank Index, gives students access to leading minds in the world of policy and international affairs, competitive internships, employment opportunities and a deeply engaged network of D.C.-based alumni.

See Maxwell-in-Washington

Adriana Curto

Working to Empower Women and Girls

Alumna Adriana Curto developed an interest in sports as a pathway to empowerment while serving with the Peace Corps in Morocco. From January to June 2021, Curto served as the Afghanistan country manager for Free to Run, a nonprofit that empowers Afghan women to participate in sports such as running to reclaim public spaces and to reconsider the roles they can—and should—have in society.

Adriana Curto ’16 B.A.

Double major: international relations, citizenship and civic engagement; former Country Manager, Free to Run

Read Adriana’s and other alumni reflections on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in the Maxwell Perspective article “Anger, Despair and Seeds of Hope”

International Relations Undergraduate Program
102 Maxwell Hall