International Relations
Offered by the Political Science department.

The International Relations major is an interdisciplinary field of study housed within the Political Science department. Students of International Relations will develop an awareness and appreciation of the transnational and international links among countries, economies, and peoples and will acquire the basic analytical and communication tools to facilitate these objectives.

The courses in the IR major are taught by highly qualified and committed faculty from the political science, economics, anthropology, and history departments.  These courses are designed to help students develop an international perspective and to appreciate and understand the rich global diversity of institutions, cultures, and traditions.

The major incorporates an evaluative fieldwork experience, which most majors complete during a semester or year spent studying abroad. All international relations students develop competency at the intermediate level in a modern foreign language, though students who plan to do graduate work in international relations should develop advanced proficiency.

International relations majors will be prepared to attend graduate school in international relations or related fields within the social sciences. Graduates have gone on to careers in the foreign service, international advocacy, non-governmental organizations, multinational corporations, and international organizations like the UN.

The offerings of the International Relations major program are intended to reflect the diversity of topics and approaches that constitute contemporary political science and international relation studies. We also have learning goals for both programs, which inform pedagogical decisions at both the course and program levels.

Major requirements

International Relations major worksheet

The major in international relations consists of 10 courses, plus competency at the intermediate level in a modern foreign language. The major includes five core courses, at least four courses in one geographical area concentration and at least one applied topics course. Each major’s program should be carefully constructed with the coordinator. Students who plan to do graduate work in international relations should develop substantial proficiency in a foreign language. Students are also encouraged to develop the research and analytical skills appropriate for the major by taking either a research methods course in political science or history or an analysis course in economics. Students should take MATH 141 for their quantitative analysis requirement.

Core courses

Required of all students.
ECON 305 International Finance
or ECON 306 International Trade
(note that ECON 101 and ECON 102 are prerequisites)
POLS 109 International Politics
POLS 229 United States Foreign Policy
POLS 309 International Law and Organization
or POLS 339 Theories of International Relations
IR 402 Senior Seminar

Foreign language

Please note that international relations majors must complete an intermediate level in a modern foreign language.
For Example: FR 221, GER 202, ITAS 200, HISP 150, ARBC 201

Area concentrations

Each major must choose four courses in one of the following areas, including courses from at least two departments, at least one of which must be political science. With permission, students may substitute an appropriate course other than those listed.

Europe and Russia
HIST 113 History of Europe since 1700 CE
HIST 215 History of Russia
HIST 240 German History: 1648-Present
HIST 321 European Imperialism, 1757-1939
POLS 215 Contemporary European Governments and Politics
POLS 249 Russian Foreign Policy
POLS 255 Russian Politics
POLS 325 European Integration
POLS 335 National Identity in the Post-Soviet Space

ANTH 295 Peoples and Cultures of South Asia
POLS 209 Chinese Foreign Policy
POLS 223 Contemporary Chinese Politics
REL 212 Sacred Texts of Asia

Middle East/Africa/Latin America
ANTH 225 Peoples and Cultures of Africa
ANTH 235 Peoples and Cultures of Latin America
ANTH 245 Indigenous Movements of Latin America
HIST 143 Africans on Africa: A Survey
HIST 217 Mundo Brasileiro
HIST 219 Norte y Sur: Modern Spanish America
HIST 252 The Modern Middle East
POLS 203 African Politics
POLS 233 The Politics of Latin America
POLS 263 The Politics of the Middle East
POLS 273 Inter-American Relations
POLS 333 Popular Movements and Religious Sentiment in the Americas
REL 316 Islam: Faith and Practice

Applied topics courses

At least one of the following courses must be part of the major:
ANTH 210 Feast or Famine: The Ecology and Politics of Food
ANTH 240 Urban Anthropology
ANTH 250 Political Anthropology
ANTH 260 Gender and Development
ANTH 298/REL 298 The Anthropology of Islam
ANTH 333 Economic Anthropology
ECON 332 Economic Development
ECON 233 Sweatshops in the World Economy
HIST 214 European Military History
POLS 309 International Law and Organization*
POLS 323 Comparative Political Development
POLS 339 Theories of International Relations*
POLS 379 International Security Policy
SOC 200 Social Movements
SOC 240 Conflict and Genocide
SOC 270 Immigration

-Or- Evaluated fieldwork experience (overseas internship program or relevant domestic experience).

* POLS 309 and POLS 339 may not be used as both core courses and applied courses. Each may count for either a core course or an applied course.



Minor requirements

International Relations minor worksheet

The minor in international relations requires the completion of ECON 305 or ECON 306, POLS 109, POLS 229, POLS 309 and one course from the Applied Topics Courses of the International Relations major program.

  • International Relations

    IR 298 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • International Relations

    IR 398 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • International Relations

    IR 399 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • International Relations

    IR 402 – Senior Seminar

    Nations and Nationalism:This course explores of our most fundamental and powerful feelings of political loyalty – our ideas about who we are, who has the right to govern us, who we are willing to kill, and for whom we are willing to die. The ultimate purpose of this course is to dig into the current explanations of nationalism and identity-formation internationally and to equip you with the tools with which to evaluate and analyze them. Using the topic of nationalism and political identity, this capstone course provides you the opportunity to reflect on the ways in which the Wheaton BA and the Political Science major prepare you to be creative and critical thinkers, strong communicators, and confident collaborators.

  • International Relations

    IR 499 – Independent Research

    Offered to selected majors at the invitation of the department.

  • International Relations

    IR 500 – Individual Research

    Selected majors are invited by the department to pursue individual research in preparation for writing an Honors Thesis.

Anni Cecil

Professor of History; Henrietta Jennings Faculty Chair for Outstanding Teaching (2015-2020)

Nick Dorzweiler

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies

Gerard Huiskamp

Professor of Political Science

Aubrey Westfall

Assistant Professor of Political Science; International Relations Coordinator

Jeanne Wilson

Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Russian Studies; Chair, Political Science Department

Brenda Wyss

Associate Professor of Economics; Coordinator of Development Studies