International Relations

International Relations

PROGRAM OVERVIEW The international relations major is an interdisciplinary program designed to meet the needs of students interested in understanding and/or working in international affairs. The goal is to train students for responsible global citizenship and entry into internationally related jobs in business, government, or international public or private agencies. The curriculum is designed to provide greater breadth than is possible by concentration in a single discipline, yet permit sufficiently focused study in international affairs to prepare the student for direct entry into the field of international service or continued post-graduate study.

FACULTY Four full-time faculty, all affiliated with the Department of Political Science, serve as academic advisers to students majoring in international relations and teach courses in the program. In addition, faculty from various other departments, including history, economics, world languages, and culture and society, offer courses that are included in the international relations major.

ACADEMIC PREPARATION High school coursework (or equivalent training) in a foreign language is highly recommended, though not required, as preparation for students planning to major in international relations.

REQUIREMENTS FOR MAJOR The major requires completion of requirements in areas described below.

The Basic Core: Majors are required to take 18 credit hours of courses in introductory international relations, international law, international security, international political economy, comparative politics, and a senior seminar.

Global Perspectives: Students must complete a minimum of nine credit hours in courses based on relations between the US and another country or region (Iran, Japan, China, East Asia) and on themes that transcend individual countries or regions, such as transnational advocacy networks, gender and war, transitional justice, transitions to democracy, case studies in comparative and transnational human rights, human trafficking, and global migration.

Comparitive Perspectives: Students must complete a minimum of nine credit hours in courses that study the history or domestic political systems of individual countries or look at the history and politics of countries sharing a continent or region (Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia, developing countries).

Students also are encouraged, though not required, to learn a foreign language and to study abroad during their sophomore or junior year. Students should consider study abroad options in consultation with their academic adviser and Drake’s study abroad coordinator.


The International Relations minor requires students to complete 18 hours of courses that include the basic core of the major (see above) without the senior seminar, and one upper-level elective from the Comparative Perspectives list.

DRAKE CURRICULUM The Drake Curriculum, required of all undergraduates, is designed to help students meet personal and professional goals as they acquire fundamental knowledge and abilities in ten Areas of Inquiry, including communication, critical thinking, artistic experience, historical consciousness, information and technology literacy, international and multicultural experiences, scientific and quantitative literacy, values and ethics, and engaged citizenship. Students work closely with their academic advisers to craft a program of study in general education that prepares students for civic and professional leadership.

The Drake Curriculum also requires a First Year Seminar, which fosters development of critical thinking and written and oral communication skills through a topical focus, and a Senior Capstone, in which students demonstrate the capacity to bring information, skills, and ideas to bear on one project.

INTERNSHIPS & OPPORTUNITIES Volunteer (and occasionally paid) internship opportunities are available with local community organizations that deal with international affairs, such as the Iowa Council for International Understanding. Students may complement the IR major by completing the global ambassador certificate program. International relations students have recently had opportunities to participate in Model European Union simulations.

CAREER OPTIONS Majors are prepared for a wide range of internationally related jobs in business, government, or international public or private agencies. In addition, many graduates go on to post-graduate study. Information on careers, internships, and graduate programs related to international affairs may be obtained from academic advisers and Drake’s office of Global Engagement.

HONORS The Elsworth Woods Prize is presented annually to the most outstanding senior majoring in international relations.

STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS AND ACTIVITIES The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship sponsors campus events and student programming related to international affairs.