University of Wisconsin–Madison

Degree and Major Requirements

Degree Requirements

Explore further requirements for your degree: Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Science
See also: L&S Student Academic Affairs for more information on policies and resources in the College of Letters and Science.


General Major Requirements

Students must complete (or show good progress towards completing) the first two pre-requisites before declaring the major. Pre-requisite courses will not count towards the 35 credits in the major, but GPA accumulated from the pre-requisites will count toward the overall major GPA.  The IS Major offers three tracks. Students select one track in which they wish to specialize when they declare.  Please see the About page for further descriptions of our three tracks.

  • Pre-Requisites
    1. Introduction to International Studies: INTL ST 101
    2. Introduction to Economics- Choose one of the following three options:
      1. ECON 101 and ECON 102
      2. AAE 215 and ECON 102
      3. ECON 111 (accelerated version of 101 & 102)
    3. Fifth semester college-level foreign language course
    4. 2.0 GPA in both pre-requisites and overall coursework
  • IS Major Coursework

    Total Credits: 35
    Minimum 2.0 GPA in the major
    Minimum 2.0 GPA in 15 upper level credits in residence

    Core Courses: These three courses focus on specialization in the major. Here you will begin to focus in your Option’s theme and become further exposed to one region in the world.

    • One Area Studies course: You will  be exposed to one region in the world.
    • Two Track Core courses: You will begin to focus in your Option’s theme. Please note that Track Core classes must be completed on campus at UW-Madison (cannot be taken abroad or transferred into UW-Madison).

    Issues Courses: 15 Credits that focus on depth, providing exposure to the various issues encompassed in each Option.

    Electives in the Major: These remaining 3-4 courses focus on breadth across the field of International Studies. Here you will gain some basic knowledge of issues outside of your specialty.  Select courses from any Options’ Issues list to bring your major coursework up to 35 credits.

  • Declaring the major

    There are several ways that you can declare the International Studies Major.  Before declaring the major, you need to attend an Introduction to the IS Major advising workshop and you need to show good progress towards completing the prerequisites for the major.  Students interested in declaring may do so at an Intro to the IS Major workshop, during walk-in hours, or by scheduling an appointment with the Peer Advisor. Please fill out this IS Major – Declaration Information Form and bring it with you when you declare.

  • Additional Requirements: 4 Course Rule

    Students are limited to a maximum of four courses from any one department. This rule excludes prerequisites. Students should be mindful of cross-listed departments, because the cross-listed departments also count toward the four-course rule. For example, IS 318 (cross-listed with Poli Sci) will count in the IS and in the Poli Sci groups.

  • Directed Study

    Upper level students who are interested in a specific academic topic or are developing an independent research topic with a faculty member may be able to enroll in directed study courses. In order to do this, the student must meet with the IS Major advisor, have a clear plan of action, and fill out the directed study petition form.

  • Study Abroad Encouraged

    While study abroad is not required, it is strongly encouraged. Checkour Study Abroad tab or the International Academic Program (IAP) website for more information. A total of 20 credits taken during study abroad can be counted towards requirements in the IS Major.

  • Internship Credit and the IS Major

    Students who wish to petition the IS Major to consider their internship for credit in the major need to do so within the first two weeks of starting the internship. Students should read the information outlined in the procedure for obtaining IS Major credit for an internship and fill out the the internship credit petition form at page 2.

    Please note, there are 3 credit and a 1 credit versions of IS 320 and IS 523.  The 1 credit version does NOT have enough academic content to count towards the IS Major. You are still welcome to take the 1 credit versions (and in the summer it might cost less); this class will count toward the 120 credits you need for your degree, but it will not fit within the IS Major.