Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$}}

Frequently Asked Questions

Many answers to frequently asked questions can be found in the PICS Undergraduate Student Handbook and below. Please reach out to PICS advisors at should you have further questions.

General Information

1)    Are there any pre-requisites for the International Studies (IS) major?

Yes. Students must complete INTLSTD 101 with a grade of C- or better. 
Students must be enrolled in their fourth semester of language (or placed out). 
Students planning on electing the Political Economy and Development sub-plan must first complete ECON 101 with a C or better so that they are eligible to enroll in one upper-level ECON course as part of their sub-plan requirement. Please note that a C or better in ECON 101 is an enforced pre-requisite to enroll in the 300-level ECON courses approved for the PED sub-plan.

2)    May I count 100 level courses toward the major?

100-level courses may not be counted toward an International Studies major.

3)    What are the requirements for the International Studies Honors Plan?

If you are considering an Honors plan, you must have an overall GPA of 3.4 with a grade of B+ or better in your INTLSTD 101 class. During your senior year, you will enroll in two additional three-credit classes: INTLSTD 498 in the fall, and INTLSTD 499 in the winter. You will also be required to write an Honors thesis, and you will be responsible for finding a faculty member to serve as your thesis advisor. Both your thesis topic and your thesis advisor must be approved by the PICS director before you start working on the thesis. For detailed information, please see the PICS Honors Plan page.

4)    How many double-counted courses will apply toward my double major?

PICS does not have a limit on the number of courses double counted with a second major.

5)    May I take a course towards my International Studies major or minor P/F?

All courses going toward your International Studies major or minor require a letter grade with exclusion of fifth-term or sixth-term language.

6)    What is the minimum grade I can receive in a course going towards my International major?


7)    Is it possible for me to apply alternative credits (e.g. an internship, transfer credits, independent study, or non-LSA courses) toward an International Studies major?

In some cases it is, but each request will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. PICS offers an independent study course, INTLSTD 491. The research needs to be approved by the PICS director before you can enroll in INTLSTD 491. You must provide a one-page written proposal of the academic goal and plan for the study and a written agreement between you and the faculty member who will sponsor your study. Please include a description of the study, clearly articulated expectations, interim deadlines, and a final deadline for completion of the study. The PICS course number for approved internships is INTLSTD 399. Requests for internship credit must be petitioned for credit toward the major. Please email for more information.

Transfer credits must post to your official U-M transcript at 200 level or above and be directly related to your sub plan focus or region of study. Transfer courses must be pre-approved by a PICS advisor. In both of these cases, however, credit toward the sub-plan core is unlikely to be granted—but credit as an elective is possible. To seek approval for a course you've taken or are thinking of taking, please follow the standard course approval instructions (for either sub-plans or electives) detailed below.

8)    What counts as a regional course?

A regional course should focus on a single world region as it connects to your language of study. Upper-level language courses beyond the sixth-term language requirement that have a focus on culture, history, arts, etc. and may work as a regional course as well as relevant study abroad courses. Regional courses must be approved by a PICS advisor.


      Language: Spanish    Region: Latin America

      ANTHRCUL 319 - Latin American Society and Culture; STDABRD 303 - CGIS: Environment and Sustainable Development in San Jose, Costa Rica

      Language: French    Region: Western Europe

      Courses: FRENCH 369 Literature, History, and Culture of Modernity; WOMENSTD 317 Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800

9)    How does study abroad credit count toward my major?

First, you have to receive U-M credit. If your study abroad program is arranged through the Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS) then this should not be an issue, but if your program is organized by another university you must arrange for that university to transfer the credits, and for U-M to accept them. We encourage you to make sure this is all arranged to your satisfaction before you commit to any given non U-M study abroad program.


1)    How would I get a course approved for inclusion in a sub-plan?

With the many choices available on the sub-plan menus of approved courses, most students are able to find the courses they both need and want to take. Nevertheless, if you come upon a course that you think is appropriate for your sub-plan, but it is not on the approved list, we’ll review it. To request a course review, you will need to fill out the online Course Approval Form. The director of PICS will review your request and get back to you shortly.

2)     What if none of the sub-plans fit exactly what I am looking for, may I create my own sub-plan for the major?


3)    Can I choose more than one sub-plan?



1)    May I take more than one language in the same region to reach the six semester requirement?

Students may appeal the sixth term of a single language (although six-terms of one language are strongly recommended in most cases) and substitute a minimum of two terms of language relevant to their defined program to total six terms of language study. Each case is reviewed individually and students must make a compelling case. For example, if a student has a special interest in Africa and this is reflected in the student’s previous coursework, and he/she has four semesters of French and wishes to add two semesters of an African language, this may be permissible. Similarly, if a student has a great interest in the Middle East a combination of Hebrew/Arabic may be permissible. Other possible combinations are Spanish/Portuguese if a special interest in Latin America can be demonstrated. However, a combination of Spanish and Italian or French is not permissible. Please note that if you are planning to satisfy the PICS language requirement through using two different languages (4+2 terms) you must obtain pre-approval. Questions regarding this should be directed to your PICS advisor.

2)    What is sixth-term language proficiency?

All International Studies majors must attain six-term proficiency, in a language other than English, during their course of study. To clarify what constitutes language proficiency, please see pgs. 10-13 in the PICS Undergraduate Student Handbook. Residential College (RC) students complete RCLANG 320: Readings in French, RCLANG 321: Readings in German, or RCLANG 324: Readings in Spanish respective to their language of study to satisfy the sixth-term of language requirement.

3)     Does my language have to match my region?

Yes. If your language of study is Spanish, for example, you may focus on any Spanish-speaking country or region. If you receive approval to study both Spanish and Quechua (an indigenous language of the South American Andes), you would then be required to focus on the region of South American in which both Spanish and Quechua are spoken.

Core Courses

1)    When should I plan to take INTLSTD 301 and INTLSTD 401? Am I required to take them in order?

We would like to see you take the core courses in order, but we understand that this is not always feasible and we do not require it. Take 301 and 401 in whatever order works best with your schedule, even if that means you take two of them concurrently. Keep in mind the INTLSTD 401 seminar is restricted to 3rd- and 4th-year students only.

2)    What semesters are 101, 301, and 401 offered?

INTLSTD 101, 301 and 401 are offered in the fall and winter semesters of each year. These courses are also sometimes offered in the spring and/or summer terms. Please review the PICS Courses page to review what is being offered this semester.

3)    Is there a way for me to get a course approved as INTLSTD 301 and 401?

No. You'll have to take a genuine INTLSTD 301 and 401 course. INTLSTD 301, with varying topics, is offered each fall and winter term. There are several INTLSTD 401 seminars, with varying topics, offered each fall and winter term.


1)      How do I get a course approved as an elective?

Email the course title and course description to a PICS advisor. Include a note with the language you’re studying, your sub-plan focus, and your UMID number. You may also schedule an advising appointment for elective course approvals.

2)    What kinds of courses may I take as electives?

Your electives should focus on the world region as it connects to your language of study, or you may elect courses that build upon your sub-plan focus. There is no pre-approved list for electives. You may take additional sub-plan (your selected sub-plan only), regional, or relevant study abroad courses. Remember that all electives must be pre-approved by a PICS advisor.

3)    May I select courses from a different sub-plan and count them among my electives?

Yes, only if the course in question connects to your world region or sub-plan focus. Please bear in mind that all electives must be pre-approved by a PICS advisor.

4)    Are there restrictions on elective courses outside of topic? For example, is there a limit to how many 200- or 300-level courses I might count toward my elective requirement?

The only restriction is that you may not apply 100-level courses toward the satisfaction of your elective requirements.