About Our Program

The International Studies Major is an interdisciplinary program with areas of specialization in Global Security, International Political Economy & Policy Studies, and Culture in an Age of Globalization.  Students select one of these three tracks for specialization.

Each track allows students to become familiar with contemporary academic debates on global issues and to begin to engage in those debates. Globalization has never been more central to the human condition. National security, national and global economies, human rights, natural resources, sustainability, and the global flows of technology and imagery are all part of International Studies curriculum.


Student Opportunities and Support

Student on study abroad trip to Jiuzhaigou, China (Photo credit: Dreux Montgomery)

Student on study abroad trip to Jiuzhaigou, China (Photo credit: Dreux Montgomery)

Students in the International Studies Major have access to a wide variety of resources at UW-Madison and within the majorAcademic, Peer, and Career Advisors assist students with curricular and co-curricular decisions.  Students in the IS Major are encouraged to study abroad, pursue internships with an international focus, and explore opportunities like spending a semester interning in Washington D.C. In addition, student organizations provide opportunities for students to engage outside of the classroom.




The IS Major has three tracks that students can choose to focus on.

Global Security: Causes and solutions to political crises, violent conflicts, and human rights challenges in interstate, transnational, and domestic settings.

Politics and Policy in the Global Economy: Policy issues pertaining to international commerce and trade, aid and development, and related environmental and natural resource problems.

Culture in the Age of Globalization: Cross-cultural interactions at different levels: local, national, and transnational, and the impact of globalization on cultures.

Program History

Meal in China (Photo Credit: Dreux Montgomery)

Meal in China (Photo Credit: Dreux Montgomery)

The International Studies Major was created in 1936 as the International Relations Major to help prepare students to work for the Foreign Service. Originally the major’s focus was on American foreign policy, but over time grew to encompass various regional tracks. After the end of the Cold War the program adapted to reflect the changing global and methodological landscape. In 1999 the International Relations Major officially became the International Studies Major and included perspectives of various disciplines outside of Political Science. Today, the International Studies Major incorporates more than 40 different departments to offer a comprehensive view of the contemporary world.

Focus on Liberal Arts and Undergraduate Education

The International Studies Major is focused on undergraduate education in a liberal arts tradition.  We value undergraduate teaching and learning; as such graduate students are not permitted in International Studies courses.

Faculty and Staff

For a listing of our faculty and staff with contact information please click here.

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