The University of Iowa

International Relations

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 NGOs, 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 Academics section of this page.

Various scholarships are available to UI students wishing to study abroad. Information about these scholarships is available on the Study Abroad scholarship page. If you’re interested in conducting independent research while abroad, funding may be available to you through the Political Science Department. Contact Martha Kirby 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.


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.


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.

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 Kirby 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 in 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 Study Abroad office to discuss which courses will transfer upon your return.


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 on the department's website.

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 ones.

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.

You can start your search with the recommended programs below, but feel free to browse our program database, consult materials in the Study Abroad Resource Room, or contact the Study Abroad peer assistants ( for other possibilities. The specific programs recommended below may change, so check with your major advisor and Study Abroad for the latest updates.

All students who study abroad must be in good academic and disciplinary standing. Each program listed has coursework taught in English unless otherwise stated. In addition, each program has specific eligibility requirements that may include GPA, prerequisites, and/or class standing. Please see the specific program page on the Study Abroad website at



ISEP Sweden: Linnaeus University
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

Linnaeus University has two campuses in Southern Sweden, but it is at the Växjö (pronounced Vex-sure) where UI students can study political science. Classes are taught in English. Courses include European Union Politics, Democratization Studies, Welfare State and Social Policy in Sweden, Democratization in the World, Political Analysis, and Swedish Politics for International Students.

ISEP Linnaeus Univ


ISEP Finland: Tampere University
Fall, Spring

Located in a region renowned for pristine nature and thousands of lakes, Tampere is Finland’s most sought-after city in which to live and study. Through their bachelor’s program in politics, students have several course options. Courses include Civil Society and Forms of Political Participation; Comparative European and Nordic Politics; Foreign Policy; International Society and Diplomacy; European Union’s External Relations and Regional Cooperation; and International Institutions, Human Rights, and Conflict Resolution.

ISEP Tampere Univ

United Kingdom

Regents Semester in Scotland
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

The Regents Semester in Scotland program allows Iowa students to spend a semester or academic year at the University of Edinburgh. Students experience campus life in Edinburgh, fully enrolled in classes with their Scottish peers and living with students from Scotland and around the world in local student accommodations. Edinburgh’s Political Science department allows Iowa students to explore local, regional, and international politics and relations through coursework from the introductory to advanced level. Courses include Comparative Politics in a Globalized World, Democracy and Its Discontents, Global Security, Political Economy of Latin America, and The Politics of the UK Constitution.

Regents Scotland

Lancaster Exchange Program
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

Students enroll at Lancaster University, living and studying on campus with their British peers while fully immersed in the local culture. Lancaster’s Political Science department is ranked among the top in the UK, offering courses examining politics and international relations from the British perspective. Courses include Power in British Politics: The Role of the Prime Minister, Peace Studies in Action, Russian International Politics, Politics of Global Danger, and Race and American Politics.

Lancaster Exchange


IES Freiburg European Union
Fall, Spring, Summer

Through the IES Freiburg European Union program, Iowa students can take courses that explore European politics, economics, business, international relations, and related topics through an in-depth and hands-on approach. The program includes extensive excursions around Germany and to the UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Romania, and a variety of other locations around Europe. English is the primary language of instruction, but courses taught in German are also available. Courses include EU Studies Integrative Seminar; International Relations and the EU; Migration, Ethnic Minorities, and Multiculturalism in Europe; Leading Across Cultures: Principles and Practice; Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation in Europe; and Transition to Market Economies in Central and Eastern Europe.

IES Freiburg EU


SIT Switzerland International Studies & Multilateral Diplomacy
Fall, Spring

Students study international diplomacy and learn how countries solve global problems. Geneva is home to many different major international organizations such as the World Health Organization, Red Cross, United Nations, and World Trade Organization, allowing students numerous opportunities to partner on projects and assignments. Program participants take excursions to Paris, France, to visit the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and to Brussels, Belgium, to view the European Union headquarters. Courses include International Relations and Multilateral Diplomacy; International Security, Peace, and Stability; French; Research Methods and Ethics; and an Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP provides an opportunity to study in greater depth an aspect of academic interest relating to the program.

SIT Switzerland


CIEE Paris Open Campus
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

Students take courses in international relations and political science in English while studying in Paris. Two courses are taken during each six-week block, and UI students participate in all three blocks for 18 semester hours. Students choose one of six coursework “tracks,” although all courses are open to all students. Courses for the international relations and political science track include Contemporary Controversies in International Relations; Intercultural Communications and Leadership; Politics of Religion; Comparative Politics Theory, Methodology, and Practice; Directed Independent Research; Internship Seminar; and Service-Learning Project.



IES Barcelona
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

IES Barcelona offers students the opportunity to deepen their study of political science and international relations by exploring themes related to the Spanish and European experience. In addition to a required Spanish language course, students can take English-taught courses that align with their major. Relevant courses include The American Century: US Policy in Western Europe, the Arab World and the West, Politics in Spain, and Democracy in Western Europe.

IES Barcelona

CIEE Seville International Business & Culture
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

Through this unique program, students study in Seville with the support services of CIEE while enrolling primarily in courses at a local university, Universidad Pablo de Olavide (UPO). After completing an intensive Spanish course in beginning through intermediate level at CIEE, students can choose from a wide variety of courses taught in English at UPO. Studying alongside other international students at UPO, participants can take courses such as US-European Relations Since World War II; Contemporary Spanish Politics; The Road to Democracy in Greece, Spain, and Portugal; and Historical Ties Between Spain and the US. Students with higher Spanish proficiency may have access to additional UPO courses taught in Spanish. 

CIEE Int'l Business


IES Rome
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

Students take an Italian language class and can select from a variety of area studies courses. IES Rome offers students the opportunity to intern and earn credit through an accompanying academic seminar. Courses include Contemporary Italian Politics; Italy and the Mediterranean World; The Wall: Borders, Violence, and Separation in the Contemporary World; Terrorism: Strategies of Destruction; Politics and Philosophy of Power in the Land of Machiavelli (Spring); and Valuing Diversity? Italian Contemporary Immigration and Integration Policies.

IES Rome

Latin America


USAC Studies in Chile
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Summer

Through USAC’s program in Chile, students will discover the amazing international and political past and present of this South American nation. The program includes field trips to nearby cities and opportunities for students to attend seminars in politics and economics, volunteer, and intern. Courses in English include Chilean History; International and Cross-Cultural Reporting; International Political Economy and Business: Globalizing Latin America; Introduction to Politics in Latin America; Latin America and Its Cultures; Peace, Conflict, and Democracy in Latin America; and International Human Rights.

USAC Chile



TEAN Australia: University of New South Wales
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

At UNSW’s Social Sciences department, the study of politics and international relations focuses on the complexities of government and global politics. The result of studying politics and international relations is an intricate understanding of the forces that mold political development and our world at large. Courses include Colonialism: Resistance, Justice, and Transition; Diplomacy and Statecraft: Past, Present, Futures; Globalization and Governance; Who Gets What? The Global Politics of Inequality; Manias, Panics and Crashes: Global Political Economy in an Era of Crisis; and Security in Asia: Politics Meets Economics.

TEAN Univ New South Wales

Iowa Regents Semester in Australia: University of Tasmania (UTas)
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

With a strong reputation in politics and policy relations research, UTas offers a variety of courses that develop students’ advanced research knowledge and skills, helping students understand issues associated with politics and policy theory and practice. Courses are taught by experts, and students gain perspective from guest lecturers and forums. Courses include Human Rights and Global Justice, Marine and Antarctic Politics, The Great Powers, Climate Politics and Policy, and Global Environmental Governance.

Regents Tasmania

TEAN Australia: Bond University
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

Studying international relations and political science at Bond University occurs in a multidisciplinary and collaborative environment. Students bridge the gap between theory and practice, ensuring that they are equipped with knowledge and dynamic skills that are transferrable to a range of career paths. Courses include Australian Public and Foreign Policy; The United Nations; Diplomacy: Theory and Practice; Political Philosophy: Freedom, Justice and the State; and Australian Government and Politics.

TEAN Bond Univ

New Zealand

TEAN New Zealand: University of Otago
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

The Politics department at University of Otago is a vibrant community of experts from many different countries who take students and their interests seriously. The Department of Politics is arranged in four fields: International Relations, New Zealand Politics, Political Theory, and Comparative Politics. Courses include Interventions, Peacekeeping and the Global South, International Security in a Globalizing World, Nationalism and Identity, Power and Liberty, and Contemporary Issues in Global Politics.

TEAN Univ Otago

TEAN New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

Through courses at Victoria University, students can explore how politics really operate. Students discover the big concepts at the heart of the world's governments and parliaments and the real-life workings of governing bodies in New Zealand and overseas. Courses include International Organizations: Change and Continuity; Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Elections; Governing Divided Societies; Cyber Power in International Relations; and International Relations Theory: World Order and Its Critics.

TEAN Victoria Univ


South Korea

TEAN South Korea: Korea University
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year, Summer

TEAN facilitates direct enrollment for students at Korea University. UI students enroll in classes in the Department of Political Science and International Relations. Established in 1905, Korea University is a member of the prestigious group of SKY universities in Korea, similar to the Ivy League in the U.S. Their traditional campus is located three miles from the center of Seoul. Courses include International Relations: Southeast Asian Politics, Comparative Political Systems, International Law and International Relations, Political Culture, Political Economy of International Trade Relations, Foreign Policy Decision Making Process, International Relations of East Asia, and Understanding Korean Politics.

TEAN Korea Univ

Africa and the Middle East


SIT Jordan: Geopolitics, International Relations & the Future of the Middle East
Fall, Spring

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has long played a pivotal role in the geopolitics and international relations of the Middle East. Students gain an understanding of the traditional values of a country with history dating back to ancient times while delving into regional politics and social change. Courses include Geopolitics, International Relations, The Future of the Middle East, The Psychology of Peace, Arabic language, Research Methods and Ethics, and either an Internship or an Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP provides an opportunity to study in greater depth an aspect of academic interest relating to the program.

SIT Geopolitics Jordan


SIT Rwanda: Post-Genocide Restoration, Development & Peace Building
Fall, Spring

Students study the history of Rwanda’s genocide and the reconciliation and peace-building process the country experienced. Other key topics of the program include post-conflict reconstruction and economic development in Rwanda and Uganda, the role of transnational justice, forced migration, complex humanitarian emergencies, and refugee settlements. Students will also travel to Uganda as part of the program. Courses include Anatomy of Genocide and Intra-State Conflict, Contemporary Global Development, Research Methods and Ethics, and either an Internship or an Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP provides an opportunity to study in greater depth an aspect of academic interest relating to the program.

SIT Post-Genocide Rwanda