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The major in International Studies offers students the opportunity to take a set of courses across disciplines to bring multiple methods and concepts together to address global problems. The major is rigorous and offers a balanced approach between disciplinary structure and depth and cross-disciplinary flexibility and breadth. Students create a curriculum from across the college and university aimed at developing broad understanding of the causes and effects of global challenges and potential redresses. The International Studies major aims to develop students’ skills in moving among different units of analysis and different approaches and methods to understand, analyze, and ultimately help solve contemporary global issues and challenges. 

International Studies students will be exposed to topics such as global health trends, human rights and refugees, cultural homogenization and hybridization, environmental and energy crises, terrorism, transnational social movements, immigration, and the spread of technology.

The major will draw on methods developed in specific disciplines such as economics, sociology, psychology, comparative literature, political science, anthropology, and history, and some methods emerging from cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary fields.

The International Studies major alone is a complete and well-rounded curriculum, but students often elect to pursue a double major, pairing an International Studies major with one in anthropology, economics, language study, environment, political science, or any other complementary field in which one might hope or expect to develop a globally-oriented career.

Students may also undertake a joint undergraduate degree program in business, architecture, art and design, engineering, or music while concurrently admitted to LSA and another U-M school or college.


International Studies majors must choose one sub-plan. The four sub-plans represent four different themes or areas of interest: International Security, Norms and Cooperation (ISNC)Political Economy and Development (PED), Comparative Culture and Identity (CCI), and Global Environment and Health (GEH). Students gain an ability to analyze historical and contemporary global trends in the following topics, and to compare experiences of nation-states and peoples across time and space. Requirements differ between sub-plans, so explore which path you want to pursue!