Special Considerations for International Relations Major

As a student of world politics, study abroad will be one of the most important experiences of your academic career. The international relations major is designed to provide you with knowledge from a wide range of disciplines regarding the historical, political, economic, and cultural relationships between nations, and study abroad will provide you with the unique opportunity to experience those relationships firsthand. In addition to studying foreign cultures in the classroom, you will interact with people of other cultures and develop international relationships of your own. This will broaden your worldview and give you a more personal stake in the well-being of international relations.

While there is no single career trend for international relations majors, students find jobs working for non-governmental organizations, intelligence organizations, multinational corporations, news organizations, think tanks, and more. Students who study abroad will have a competitive edge when applying for these positions, especially when seeking work in a country they have lived in. Many international relations students pursue graduate degrees on their way to these careers—study abroad experience is a also a valuable distinction when applying for graduate programs.

In addition to taking courses while abroad, international relations majors are encouraged to complete internships and conduct research. For information about how to incorporate international internships and research into your 4-year graduation plan, see the Fulfilling Academic Requirements section of this site.

Various scholarships are available to UI students wishing to study abroad, including the Presidential Scholarship for Study Abroad. Information about these scholarships is available here. If you’re interested in conducting independent research while abroad, funding may be available to you through the Political Science Department. Contact Martha Greer for further information.

While you can study abroad as early as the summer after your freshman year, most international relations majors study abroad at the end of their sophomore or beginning of their junior year. Others situate their study abroad experience closer to their senior year so they can conduct research for their senior papers while abroad. Study abroad programs are also offered in the summer and during winter break. Whatever your year or situation, there are plenty of opportunities for you to coordinate study abroad with your major requirements.

Freshmen

Your freshman year is best spent fulfilling general education requirements and deciding on your major (most international relations students declare their major at the end of their first year).

The summer after your freshman year is a great time to study abroad, though, especially if you want to get a head-start on fulfilling your foreign language requirements; you might travel to a country that speaks a language you’re interested in learning, then return there once you’ve acquired more language skills.

Sophomores & Juniors

The second semester of your sophomore year is a good time to study abroad, as well either semester during your junior year (it’s recommended that you participate in a semester-long program regardless of when you study abroad).

The summer after your junior year is also an option and a particularly good time to study abroad if you’re interested in using the experience to conduct research for your senior paper.

Seniors

Senior year is an okay time to study abroad, just keep in mind that you need to take your senior seminar and complete your final paper at the University of Iowa. You’ll also need to double check that all of your requirements for graduation will be met upon your return.

Summer & Winter

If you can’t seem to fit study abroad in during the school year, consider a summer or winter program, e.g. the India Winterim or the summer program at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

Before you enroll in courses abroad, you'll need to fill out a Study Abroad Credit Approval Form (available in the Study Abroad office) and return it to your Study Abroad Advisor prior to your departure.

International Relations Major Courses

As a international relations major, you are required to take a series of core courses before you choose an emphasis area and begin to take more specialized courses. With the exception of POLI 3000 “Understanding Political Research," core courses can usually be fulfilled abroad.

You are also required to take a senior seminar during which you will complete a final paper. While this course needs to be taken at the UI during your senior year, you are encouraged to conduct research abroad to inform your final paper (most likely during the summer before your senior year).

The International Relations Department offers both a bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degree with slightly different major requirements.

If you are a bachelor of science candidate, keep in mind that you are required to take a sequence of mathematics or statistics courses. These courses are best taken in the U.S., since direct equivalents will be difficult to find abroad.

Martha Greer is the professional staff advisor for international relations majors. Be sure to contact her and your Political Science faculty advisor for information about how to coordinate your major requirements with your study abroad experience. Note that all first-year students, including those who have declared a major, are advised at the Academic Advising Center, located in the Pomerantz Center. If this is your first year at the UI, contact Academic Advising for advice about fulfilling academic requirements abroad.

General Education

General education requirements can be fulfilled abroad, just consult with an academic advisor and/or an advisor in the Office for Study Abroad to discuss which courses will transfer upon your return.

Internships

International relations majors are encouraged to serve as interns, particularly in government-related internships. Information about internships offered through the Political Science Department is available here.

The course you enroll in for internships abroad is usually POLI4900 “Government Internships." While credit earned for this course will count toward the 120 semester hours required by the UI for graduation, keep in mind that it will not count toward the minimum requirements for the international relations major. Students may not take this course more than twice for a total of 6 semester hours.

International relations majors are encouraged to think of study abroad as more than learning a foreign language. Although speaking multiple languages is a valuable skill, some of the best global citizens are those who can empathize with peoples of other cultures and view their own culture as one of many overlapping options.

First-year student are asked to keep in mind that international relations majors aren’t assigned faculty advisors until their sophomore year. If you are a first-year student with questions about study abroad, contact Academic Advising and/or a Study Abroad Advisor.

Summer and winter programs are highly recommended for international relations majors. If you are a double major, a B.S. candidate trying to make room for that statistics track, or just can't seem to find time for study abroad during the school year, consider one of the summer or winter programs listed here.

Depending on your language abilities, courses taken via direct enrollment in a foreign university (rather than as part of a program made up of international students) should be taken in English-speaking countries; the list below highlights programs in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Australia that offer courses relevant to international relations majors.

While we suggest you look at these recommended programs first, feel free to browse the programs section of the Office for Study Abroad website, explore an online directory of study abroad programs, and consult materials in the Study Abroad Resource Room.

Russia

Russia in the 21st Century: Politics, Culture, and Global Affairs

This eight week program is aimed at students with an interest in this key world actor, whether or not they have previously studied the Russian language. It was designed by the University of Iowa in partnership with two esteemed universities in Russia: the Higher School of Economics (HSE) and the Pushkin State Russian Language Institute. Students will have a choice between two separate academic tracks: Russian Language and Culture or Contemporary Russia.

The Russian Language and Culture track, hosted by Pushkin, will allow participants to immerse themselves in Russian culture during the entire eight week session. The Contemporary Russia track, split between Pushkin and HSE, will allow students to study Russian language at Pushkin in June, but also allow participants to take courses on Russian politics at HSE during July.

India

International Development: India Winterim

The India Winterim is an intensive, three-week field-based program that provides students with the opportunity to learn from and directly interact with leading social entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations and academic institutions within India’s diverse cultural, socioeconomic, and geographical mosaic. Each course is based in (or near) one of several cities throughout India. This program is designed for undergraduate students, graduate students and community members with related interests and experience.

United Kingdom

Iowa Regents Semester in Wales (University of Wales Swansea)

The Iowa Regents Semester in Wales offers undergraduate students an opportunity to study for a semester at a British university. Students are integrated academically and socially with their British peers at Swansea University.

The program begins with a three-week course on British life and politics, after which students enroll in regular courses offered by the university. It may be taken in Swansea, or -- for an additional cost -- in London. The short intensive course provides an introduction to both the unity and diversity of British culture, including British historical, political and literary life. Particular emphasis is placed on the regional distinctiveness of Wales as part of the United Kingdom. Field trips are an integral part of the course and are included in the program fee. Visits will be arranged to places of local interest with guided tours provided for each.

Strathclyde University Exchange, Glasgow, Scotland

The reciprocal exchange program between the University of Iowa and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland allows UI undergraduates to spend a semester or academic year of study while fully integrated with British students in student housing and regular classes. Because of the one-for-one reciprocal nature of the exchange, cost is based on students’ regular UI tuition; room and board is comparable to Iowa costs in the Mayflower residence hall. Added expenses include airfare, a UI administrative fee, and as much travel as students care to do during December and the long Spring break.

Check here for a list of political science courses currently being offered at Strathclyde.

Iowa Regents Semester in Scotland (University of Edinburgh)

This semester or academic year program offers undergraduates the opportunity to enroll in a wide range of courses in a variety of disciplines at the University of Edinburgh, one of the finest universities in the United Kingdom in one of Europe's most exciting cultural centers. Students are fully integrated academically and socially with their Scottish peers.

Take a look at what is in store for you in Edinburgh. 

Lancaster University Exchange, Lancaster, England

Reciprocal exchange programs between the University of Iowa and Lancaster University in Lancaster, England allows UI undergraduates to spend a semester or academic year of study in England while fully integrated with British students in student housing and regular classes. Because of the one-for-one reciprocal nature of the exchange, cost is based on students’ regular UI tuition; room and board is comparable to Iowa costs in the Mayflower residence hall. Added expenses include airfare, a UI administrative fee, and as much travel as students care to do during December and the long Spring break.

University of Hull Exchange, Kingston-upon-Hull, England

Reciprocal exchange programs between the University of Iowa and University of Hull in Kingston-upon-Hull, England, allows UI undergraduates to spend a semester or academic year of study while fully integrated with British students in student housing and regular classes. Because of the one-for-one reciprocal nature of the exchange, cost is based on students’ regular UI tuition; room and board is comparable to Iowa costs in the Mayflower residence hall. Added expenses include airfare, a UI administrative fee, and as much travel as students care to do during December and the long Spring break.

University of Birmingham Exchange, Birmingham, England

The reciprocal exchange program between the University of Iowa and the University of Birmingham in Birmingham, England, allows undergraduate students to spend a semester or academic year there and be fully integrated with British students in student housing and regular classes. Because of the one-for-one reciprocal nature of the exchange, cost is based on students’ regular UI tuition; room and board is comparable to Iowa costs in the Mayflower residence hall. Added expenses include airfare, a UI administrative fee, and as much travel as students care to do during December and the long Spring break.

Ireland

Iowa Regents Semester in Ireland (University College Cork)

This semester or academic year program offers students the opportunity to enroll in a wide range of courses in a variety of disciplines at the University College Cork, one of the oldest universities in Ireland. Students are fully integrated academically and socially with their Irish peers.

Students who attend UCC in the fall will participate in their "Early Start Semester," which includes an intensive 3.5 week course on an Irish theme especially designed for visiting students. Current offerings include: Irish Archeology, Irish Folklore and Ethnology, History and Modern Ireland, Literatures in Ireland, Irish Ecosystems, Musics in Ireland, Management & Marketing in the European Union, and Irish Law.

Australia

Iowa Regents Semester in Australia: University of Tasmania

The Iowa Regents Semester in Australia program at the University of Tasmania offers undergraduate students an opportunity to study for a semester at the University of Tasmania. Participants are fully integrated academically and socially with their Australian peers.

While planning to study abroad, students should browse through UTAS's course listings to see which classes are likely to be available during their term in Australia. Some courses may have pre-requisites, please discuss this with your study abroad advisor if you have questions.

UTAS Courses and Units: http://courses.utas.edu.au/

Iowa Regents Semester in Austrailia: University of Newcastle

The Iowa Regents Semester in Australia program at the University of Newcastle offers undergraduate students an opportunity to study for a semester at the University of Newcastle. Participants are fully integrated academically and socially with their Australian peers.

While planning to study abroad, students should browse through Newcastle's course listings to see which classes are likely to be available during their term in Australia. Some courses may have pre-requisites, please discuss this with your study abroad advisor if you have questions.

Newcastle Course Handbook (individual course listings): http://www.newcastle.edu.au//course/

Newcastle Undergraduate Programs (equivalent to degree requirements, useful for finding classes by major or discipline): http://www.newcastle.edu.au/program/undergraduate/