Are you interested in learning about different cultures and peoples around the world? Would you like to study, live, or work abroad some day? Do you wonder why some countries are wealthy, while others are poor and some places are war-torn while others are peaceful? Would you like to understand how different regional civilizations have evolved and how these characteristics continue to affect people today? If you answered yes to any of these questions, International Relations (IR) may be the major for you. IR is a unique course of study because it combines classes from three different departments—economics, history, and political science—to create a coherent curriculum that allows students to develop their understandings of both different areas of the world (“area studies”) and the nature of interactions between people, groups, nation-states, and international organizations (“globalization”).
International relations students have many different strengths. Some have a flair for foreign languages, others are fascinated by particular regions of the world and still another set of students may have a long-standing interest in an aspect of global affairs. Some students are attracted to the major because it allows them to combine courses from multiple departments, allowing them to study world regions or phenomena (like conflict, revolution, economic development, or human rights) from different disciplinary perspectives.
International relations is an excellent liberal arts major that will help you develop your reading, writing, research, presentation and analytic skills and, as such, is a great place for students considering careers in business, government, education, and the non-profit sector. Each year, several IR majors also opt for law school or international public affairs masters programs, where they will specialize in a certain region of the world (e.g. South Asia) or political issue (e.g. conflict management) with the goal of one day becoming an expert in that field and working for the U.S. government, an international organization, or a non-governmental organization.
To help students develop their interests and enhance their chances of finding a rewarding career, SJU’s Political Science Department encourages students to become involved in internships in the greater Philadelphia region (for course credit) or at the Washington Center (for a semester’s worth of credit). We also promote experiential learning, where students study abroad (some sites provide opportunities for international internships), take study tours, or participate in the Model European Union program. Our majors become corporate executives, teachers, government employees, attorneys, policy specialists, and advocates in non-profits. You can go anywhere you want with an International Relations degree, hard work, and determination!
For further information about Future Paths of SJU IR majors, please click here.
The International Relations major requires and encourages students to develop a multi-disciplinary perspective on regional and global issues. It requires two introductory or foundational classes in economics, history, and political science and gives students the opportunity to explore at the upper division level regions and phenomenon (e.g.social protest movements, colonialism, globalization, revolution, authoritarianism and democracy, war, and peace) that most interest them. The program also makes the teaching and developing of research and writing skills explicit, and all students complete a senior capstone seminar. IR’s goal is to provide you with interesting courses and a well-designed curriculum that will help you develop the tools that you will need to succeed in your future, whether that be in the corporate world, education, government service, the non-profit sector, law school, or graduate school.
In addition to completing the IR major, students often pursue a minor––especially in a foreign language, area studies (e.g. Latin American, Asian and European studies), History, Economics, or Political Science. Many majors choose to spend a semester studying abroad or interning in Washington, and each year, some students graduate with general or departmental honors.
A minor in International relations is a great choice for students who are interested in the world around them and like to take classes in different departments. In addition to learning about different cultures and global affairs, minors can take advantage of the many experiential learning activities (local internships, Washington Center, Model European Union, summer study tours, study abroad) that IR offers. The minor also helps students sharpen and broaden their reading, research, presentation, writing, and analytic skills. The IR minor is a great choice especially for economics, history, or political science majors who have already taken as requirements for their major some IR courses and may need to take only a few more to complete the minor.
The International relations faculty is a dedicated and energetic group who take the role of the teacher-scholar very seriously. They work hard to craft excellent courses and to make interesting and interactive classroom presentations. They are also respected as experts in their fields, publishing books and articles and attending conferences around the world.
Class sizes are generally small. The introductory courses for first-year majors tend to have a maximum of twenty students. Upper division classes are capped at twenty-five. This small size allows for students and faculty to develop strong relationships. Faculty are energetic and expert in the material they teach, and their enthusiasm infuses the classroom.
International relations faculty want to make the educational experiences of their students first-rate. Visit IR faculty offices on any given day and you will see a professor talking with a student about work in a particular course, study or work abroad opportunities, career development, course selection, or many other issues. Students get to know their faculty, and faculty serve as great resources for them, as IR professors take their advising responsibilities very seriously.