VCU Bulletins

International Studies, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) with a concentration in international social justice studies

Special requirements

To earn a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, students must complete 120 course credits, at least 36 of which must be in the major, with a minimum GPA of 2.25. Students must take at least 21 credits total of upper-level (300- or 400-level) courses within the major, with a minimum of nine credits at the upper level earned at VCU (not through transfer credit). The focus of a degree in international studies is interdisciplinary and should reflect a well-rounded mix of courses completed in a variety of disciplines (e.g. ANTH, HIST, POLI, SOCY, WRLD and foreign language).

International studies majors are encouraged to complete the course requirements for a minor that will broaden their international studies perspectives. Minor options are varied and may be chosen from a broad range of subject areas. Students also may want to consider a second major. Advisers will work with students to explore the benefits of a double major and a minor.

Students must fulfill an experiential learning requirement through an approved internship, service-learning course or study-abroad program. Within the core requirements, students must complete six credits of foreign language study through the advanced level (300 level or higher). Native speakers of a language not taught at VCU can demonstrate fluency through evaluation to meet the requirement and then substitute six credits of additional course work chosen from the concentration electives to complete the degree. For students studying a foreign language not taught at VCU, or for which no upper-level courses are offered on campus, the School of World Studies advisers will assist the student in identifying appropriate language study options at other U.S. institutions or abroad. International studies majors also must fulfill the college general education requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree.

To major in international studies, students must take course work that fulfills the requirements for the concentration chosen.

Experiential learning and study abroad

World Passport
As part of the School of World Studies’ commitment to learning through engagement, each student within the school is required to complete a World Passport to introduce him or her to a breadth of experience beyond the core curriculum: cultural opportunities, experiential learning, seminars and conferences, career workshops, international experiences, and multicultural campus activities. Students are required to obtain information about their personal World Passport from the School of World Studies Advising Office. The passport will be kept in the student advising file throughout the duration of study. It will be validated and approved by School of World Studies Advising Office prior to graduation, and then given to the student upon completion.

The passports are color-coded for four required categories of activities to be completed by students before graduation from VCU with a degree from the School of World Studies.

  • Professional preparation prepares students for careers, graduate school and lifelong learning.
  • Crossing boundaries exposes students to international and multicultural interactions and ideas to enhance their cultural competency.
  • Community engagement enhances the undergraduate experience by greater involvement in the community.
  • Experiential learning provides students the opportunity to demonstrate success in applying program content beyond a classroom setting.

The School of World Studies is committed to the premise that learning is best facilitated through engagement with the dynamic complexities and challenges of the world outside the classroom. Majors in the school are required to participate in experiential learning options. All experiential learning opportunities must receive prior approval from the SWS Advising Office and include internships, service-learning courses, certain noncredit options and study abroad.

Study abroad
Study-abroad programs provide students with opportunities for short-term, semester-length and yearlong immersion in the language, culture and civilization of their chosen host country. A list of current VCU faculty-led and other study abroad opportunities can be found at For more information about School of World Studies involvement in study abroad opportunities, visit

Degree requirements for International Studies, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) with a concentration in international social justice studies

The international studies program offers a varied interdisciplinary humanities curriculum, global in scope and designed to increase students’ knowledge about the cultures and traditions, languages, literature and media, history, values, concerns, and aspirations of peoples in different countries and regions of the world. The goal of the program is ultimately also to both broaden students’ comparative intercultural perspectives and develop their cross-cultural communication abilities. Within each chosen concentration, the interdisciplinary range of offerings allows for flexibility in configuring each individual’s course of study, which can be organized in a manner that best suits a student’s particular needs.

Learning outcomes

  1. Knowledge regarding the interrelationship between local and global institutions, cultures, languages and religions
  2. Knowledge regarding the differences and unity of human values, aspirations and concerns
  3. Knowledge of local and global issues of social justice, human rights and sustainability
  4. Development of reading, writing and oral communication skills
  5. Development of ethical, critical and creative thinking skills
  6. Development of global awareness and global citizenship

Upon completing this program:

  1. Students will be able to critically analyze culturally specific and global issues from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.
  2. Students will demonstrate knowledge of universals and differences in worldviews and ethical systems (values) across a range of cultures.
  3. Students will acquire the cross-cultural communication skills and cultural sensitivity to interact effectively in international and/or multicultural settings, and to engage with cultural difference in an informed and compassionate fashion.  
Students will attain a third-year college level proficiency in a second language in each of the four modalities: speaking, listening, reading and writing.
General Education requirements (32-46 credits) Credits
University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV 111 Focused Inquiry I 3
UNIV 112 Focused Inquiry II 3
UNIV 200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
Approved humanities/fine arts 3
Approved natural/physical sciences 3-4
Approved quantitative literacy 3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences 3-4
Additional College of Humanities and Sciences requirements (11-23 credits)  
HUMS 202 Choices in a Consumer Society 1
Approved H&S diverse and global communities 3
Approved H&S general education electives 6-8
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior (fulfills University Core social/behavioral sciences)  
Approved H&S literature and civilization (fulfills University Core humanities/fine arts)  
Approved H&S science and technology (fulfills University Core natural/physical sciences)  
Experiential fine arts (course offered by the School of the Arts) 1-3
Foreign language through the 102 level (by course or placement) 0-8
Collateral requirements (3-9 credits)  
Foreign language through the 202 or 205 level 0-6
Experiential learning requirement 0-3
World Passport completion 0
Major requirements (36 credits)  
Core requirements for all international studies majors (18 credits)  
INTL 101 Human Societies and Globalization or INTL/POLI 105 International Relations or ANTH/INTL 103 Introduction to Anthropology 3
INTL 490 Seminar in International Issues (capstone) 3
RELS 340/INTL 341 Global Ethics and the World’s Religions 3
WRLD 302 Communicating Across Cultures or WRLD 391 Topics in World Languages and Cultures taken on a VCU-faculty led study abroad program 3
Upper-level foreign language course work (300-level or higher) 6
Concentration electives (select courses to complete the requirements described in the electives lists below) 18
Open electives (28-52 credits)  
Open electives 28-52
Total minimum requirement 120


The concentration in international social justice studies requires a total of 18 credits of interdisciplinary course work. A maximum of six credits within the concentration may be taken from within the same discipline to fulfill these requirements.

Required courses (6 credits):
WRLD 210 International Social Justice Studies
WRLD 220 Human Rights and Literature

At least 3 credits from the following:
RELS/INTL 450 Religion, Globalization and Social Justice
RELS/INTL 451 Religion, Racism and Social Justice
RELS/INTL 453 Western Religions, Women and Social Justice
RELS/INTL 455 Catholic Ethics and Social Justice

To complete the remaining credits for the concentration, students choose courses from at least three of the following categories:

History, gender, and race
AFAM/GSWS/SOCY 305 African American Family in Social Context
ANTH 200 Introduction to African Societies
ANTH/AFAM/INTL 420 Women of Africa
GSWS 301 Feminist Social Theory
GSWS 309 Global Women's Health
HIST 354 History of Native Americans in the South
HIST 355 Native Americans in Modern America
HIST 365/GSWS 341 American Women’s History I
HIST 380/AFAM 390/GSWS 390 Africa and the Americas: Slavery, Gender and Race
HIST 416 Studies in the History of Women, Gender and Sexuality: ____
POLI/AFAM/ 318 Politics of Race, Class and Gender
POLI 366/GSWS 366/ INTL 368 Women and Global Politics

ENGL 363/AFAM 363/ INTL 366 African Literature
ENGL 365/AFAM 365/ INTL 367 Caribbean Literature
ENGL 381 Multiethnic Literature
FREN/INTL 450 Francophone Literatures and Cultures
GRMN 421 The Postwar German Scene
SPAN 322 Hispanic Immigrants in the U.S.
SPAN 332 Latino Writers in the U.S.

Politics and globalization
ANTH/INTL 349 Rethinking a Continent: Latin America
ANTH/INTL 350 Rethinking a Continent: Europe
ANTH/INTL 455 Anthropology of Development and Globalization
MASC 359/WRLD 359 International Media Coverage: The Middle East
POLI/AFAM 302 Politics of the Civil Rights Movement
POLI/AFAM/INTL 356 Government and Politics of Africa
POLI/AFAM/ INTL 357 Politics of Southern Africa
POLI/INTL 365 International Political Economy
POLI 366/GSWS 366/INTL 368 Women and Global Politics

Topics (when appropriate)
Students must receive approval through the SWS Advising Office for topics courses counting toward the concentration.
ANTH 391 Topics in Anthropology
FLET 391 Topics in Foreign Literature in English Translation
FREN 491 Topics in French (for example, «Cinèma du monde arabe»)
GRMN 491 Topics in German
RELS 391 Topics in Religious Studies
RELS 491 Topics in Religious Studies
RUSS 491 Topics in Russian
SPAN 491 Topics in Spanish
WRLD 391 Topics in World Languages and Cultures (taught on campus)
WRLD 491 Topics in World Languages and Cultures

World cinema
ANTH 331 Public Culture: Anthropology Through Film
FREN 422 French Cinema
GRMN 422 German Film
ITAL 320 Italian Cinema: ____
RELS 422 Religion and Film
RUSS 422 Russian Film
SPAN 422 Spanish and Latin American Cinema
WRLD 422 National Cinema

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