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.

Click here to see IS Major 4-year sample plan.

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Tracks (Choose one)

The IS Major has three tracks from which students can choose when they declare. Students may not declare multiple tracks at the same time, and must choose a track at the time of declaration.

Global Security: Causes and solutions to political crises, violent conflicts, and human rights challenges in interstate, transnational, and domestic settings.

Politics and Policy in the Global Economy: Policy issues pertaining to international commerce and trade, aid and development, and related environmental and natural resource problems.

Culture in the Age of Globalization: Cross-cultural interactions at different levels: local, national, and transnational, and the impact of globalization on cultures.

Introductory Requirements

  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

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 fall semester or spring semester, 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.