The international relations major consists of 33 semester hours plus three cognate courses or an approved off-campus semester program. Students who major in international relations may also choose to follow one of two programs of concentration: Comparative Politics, Governments, and Globalization Concentration or International Cooperation and Conflict Concentration

(33 semester hours)

  • POLS-214 Governments and Globalization
  • POLS-207 International Cooperation and Conflict
  • POLS-251 Foundations of Political Science Research
  • POLS-399 Senior Seminar in Political Science
  • One course from:
    • POLS-101 Ideas and Institutions in American Politics
    • POLS-202 State Politics and American Federalism
    • POLS-212 American Public Policy
    • POLS-234 The President and Congress
    • POLS-237 Parties and Interest Groups
    • POLS-310 American Constitutional Foundations
  • One course from:
    • POLS-110 Persons in Political Community
    • POLS-240 Freedom, Justice, and Political Authority
    • POLS-306 Political Liberalism and Its Critics
  • ECON-222 Principles of Macroeconomics
  • Twelve additional hours of political science coursework (which may include one interim course and/or three hours of internship credit) or completion of one of the concentrations below
  • In addition, students complete three approved cognate courses or an approved off-campus semester program (see Other Details tab above for a full list of courses).

Comparative Politics, Governments, and Globalization Concentration

If you are interested in exploring the politics and governments of countries around the world, the department offers an international relations major with a comparative politics, governments, and globalization concentration. Students in this concentration focus on such themes as democratization, terrorism, courts and constitutions, ethnic conflict, human rights, and civil war and revolution. This concentration is ideal for students who want to pursue careers in diplomacy, political development, trade, or intelligence, among many other opportunities. Students graduating with this concentration will also be well prepared to pursue graduate study in political science, international relations, or area studies.

(33 semester hours)

  • Three courses (at least two 300-level) from:
  • One course from:
    • POLS-218 American Foreign Policy
    • POLS-228 Global Politics of Human Rights
    • POLS-276 Latin American Politics
    • POLS-277 Asian Politics
    • POLS-279 African Politics
    • POLS-301 Institutions, Civil Society, and Revolution
    • POLS-304 International Peace and Security
    • POLS-307 Civil War, Ethnic Conflict, and Terrorism
    • POLS-309 International Organizations and Law
    • POLS-319 International Political Economy
    • POLS-321 Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective
    • POLS-322 Global Democratization
    • An approved interim course or three hours of internship credit

International Cooperation and Conflict Concentration

If you are interested in exploring political, economic, and military interactions among states at a global level, the department offers an international relations major with an international cooperation and conflict concentration. Students in this concentration focus on international institutions, diplomacy, trade, conflict, and foreign economic and security policy. This concentration is ideal for students who want to pursue careers in journalism, diplomacy, trade, or foreign policy, among many other opportunities. Students graduating with this concentration will also be well prepared to pursue graduate study in political science, international relations, or foreign affairs.

(33 semester hours)

  • Three courses (at least two 300-level) from:
    • POLS-218 American Foreign Policy
    • POLS-228 Global Politics of Human Rights
    • POLS-304 International Peace and Security
    • POLS-309 International Organizations and Law
    • POLS-319 International Political Economy
  • One course from:
    • POLS-218 American Foreign Policy
    • POLS-228 Global Politics of Human Rights
    • POLS-276 Latin American Politics
    • POLS-277 Asian Politics
    • POLS-279 African Politics
    • POLS-301 Institutions, Civil Society, and Revolution
    • POLS-304 International Peace and Security
    • POLS-307 Civil War, Ethnic Conflict, and Terrorism
    • POLS-309 International Organizations and Law
    • POLS-319 International Political Economy
    • POLS-321 Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective
    • POLS-322 Global Democratization
    • An approved interim course or three hours of internship credit

To graduate with honors in international relations, you must:

  • Maintain an overall minimum GPA of 3.5
  • Maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 in courses within the major
  • Complete 6 (18 hours) non-interim courses for honors credit, with a minimum of four honors courses within the major
  • Complete an honors thesis that meets the guidelines of the political science department
  • Earn at least a B+ in each political science honors course you take
  • Make a formal commitment to graduate with honors by fall of your senior year

For more information:

Internship experience

International relations majors, particularly those who do not anticipate pursuing either law school or some graduate program shortly after graduation, are encouraged to enroll in internship programs.

Students can complete an internship for a maximum of 3 semester hours in Internship in Politics and Government (POLS-380), as well as internships through our Washington D.C. semester program. Interested students should contact the department's internship director, Professor Pelz.

IR Major Cognate Requirement

Students wishing to complete an International Relations major must complete a cognate, which is set of courses taken outside the major itself that nevertheless complements the major. Students have two options to complete the cognate requirement.

Option 1

Take any three of the following courses (note that some of these courses have prerequisites):

Option 2

Approved off-campus semester.

There are many options for satisfying the cognate requirement through a Calvin-sponsored study abroad program or an off-campus program offered through an external provider. Please consult your advisor in advance of any travel to determine whether the experience is appropriate for the cognate.

To be admitted to the international relations major you must have completed POLS-101, 110, 214, or 207 with a minimum grade of C (2.0).

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