Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

Students must complete (or show good progress towards completing) the first two pre-requisites before declaring the major. GPA accumulated from the pre-requisites will count in the overall major GPA.  The IS Major offers three tracks, students select one track that they wish to specialize in.  The tracks are: (1) Culture in the Age of Globalization, (2) Global Security, and (3) Politics and Policy in the Global Economy.

Explore IS requirements and sample courses: Bachelor of Arts/ Bachelor of Science!


  • Introduction to International Studies: INTL ST 101
  • Introduction to Economics- Choose one of the following three options:
    1. ECON 101 and ECON 102
    2. AAE 215 and ECON 102
    3. ECON 111 (accelerated version of 101 & 102)
  • Fifth semester college-level foreign language course
  • 2.0 GPA in both pre-requisites and overall course work

Major Requirements

Total Credits: 35
Minimum 2.0 GPA in the major
Minimum 2.0 GPA in 15 upper level credits in residence

Core Courses: These three courses focus on specialization in the major. Here you will begin to focus in your Option’s theme and become further exposed to one region in the world.

  • One Area Studies course: Here you will  be exposed to one region in the world.
  • Two Track Core courses: Here you will begin to focus in your Option’s theme.  Please note that Track Core classes must be completed on campus at UW-Madison (cannot be taken abroad or transferred into UW-Madison).

Issues Courses: 15 Credits that focus on depth, providing exposure to the various issues encompassed in each Option.

Electives in the Major: These remaining 3-4 courses focus on breadth across the field of International Studies. Here you will gain some basic knowledge of issues outside of your specialty.  Select courses from any Options’ ISSUES list to bring the major up to 35 credits.

Click here to view the IS Course Lists.

Other Requirements and Recommendations:

Students are limited to a maximum of four courses from any one department. This rule excludes prerequisites. Students should be mindful of cross-listed departments, because the cross-listed departments also count toward the four-course rule. For example, IS 318 (cross-listed with Poli Sci) will count in the IS and in the Poli Sci groups.

A total of 20 credits taken during study abroad can be counted towards requirements in the IS Major.

While study abroad and internships are not required, they are strongly encouraged. Check Go Abroad and the International Internships Program for more information.
For information about Honors and Distinction in the major, click here.

Directed Study and Independent Research:

Upper level students who are interested in a specific academic topic or are developing an independent research topic with a faculty member are able to enroll in academic credit for these experiences.  In order to do this, the student must meet with the IS Major advisor, have a clear plan of action, and fill out the directed study petition form.

Internship Credit and the IS Major:

Students who wish to petition the IS Major to consider their internship for credit in the major need to do so within the first two weeks of starting the internship.  Students should read the information outlined in the procedure for obtaining IS Major credit for an internship and fill out the the internship credit petition form.


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

Global Security: Causes of and solutions to political crises and violent conflicts 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.

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