Study Abroad Course Guidelines

Below you will find the guidelines to enable you to choose courses abroad or tailor directed studies, research, and theses to the IS Major. Do not confuse this information with our regular course offerings.

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General parameters

Substitution rules:

  • Study abroad: up to 20 credits toward your Area Studies, Issues, and Elective requirements in the Major
  • Transfer from another institution: up to 20 credits toward your Area Studies, Issues, and Elective requirements in the Major
  • Directed studies: up to 6 credits toward your Issues or Elective requirements in the Major
  • Honors thesis: up to 3 credits may apply toward your Issues requirements in the Major; up to 6 credits may apply toward the Honors in the Major thesis requirement
  • Senior thesis: up to 3 credits may apply toward Issues or Elective requirements in the Major
  • Content of your work:
    • The content of your work must be relevant to the Major, and courses may only be applied to the Major with an advisor’s authorization.
    • Your subject must be international in scope.
    • Topics pertaining to the United States of America must place the United States within a global context. Examples might include: comparative institutions or policies, migration patterns from other regions to the United States, flows of capital and goods between the United States and foreign countries, NGOs and IOs based in the United States, etc. A good gauge would be that no more than 33% of your course may focus on U.S.-specific institutions, policies, histories, economy, etc. For honors theses and directed studies, up to 50% of your project/paper may focus on the U.S.
    • Time period must be post-1800.
    • The level of your work must be considered intermediate or advanced.
  • Area Studies:
    A history course focusing on the political and historical background of a particular country or region. Keep in mind the time period guidelines above.


Global Security Issues
Communication (e.g., means by which threats are communicated), economic security (e.g., development, personal income), health security (e.g., infectious disease), environmental security (e.g. man-made threats against nature), food security (e.g., food safety), personal security (e.g., crime), political security (e.g., freedom from political repression), national & global security, organizations that protect security, regions in the international arena, U.S. foreign policy, war & terrorism

Global Economy Issues
Communication; global economy; comparative political & economic systems; political and economic development; global legal institutions; policies related to health, humans & the environment, land & food, social issues/technology; international organizations (e.g., IOs, NGOs); international trade; political and economic integration; international law

Global Culture Issues
Migration; hybridization of culture; cultural pluralism; technology and transnational cultural flows (e.g., internet and social media); capitalism and global consumerism; contemporary arts; cultural identity (e.g., French vs. European); cultural values

Electives (all Options)
Select from any of the Issues lists above.

Need Assistance?

Please direct all questions about this process to the IS Major Advisor; make sure to include your UW-Madison student ID number, Option in the Major, and detailed information about the course(s) in question.  Please use this IS Major Study Abroad Worksheet for guidance as to what information you will need to give to the IS Major advisor.