VCU Bulletins

International Studies, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Special requirements

To earn a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, students must complete 120 course credits, at least 31 of which must be in the major, with a minimum GPA of 2.25. Students must take at least 21 credits in upper-level (300 or 400) INTL courses. The focus should be interdisciplinary, with no more than half of major course credits beyond the INTL core coming from any one traditional discipline (e.g., ANTH, POLI, SOCY or foreign language).

Students should work with their advisers to establish a plan for a minor that will broaden their international studies perspectives. International studies majors are encouraged to complete the course requirements for a minor in one of the following fields: African studies, Arabic and Middle Eastern studies, anthropology, Asian and Chinese studies, economics, business (general business minor), French, geography, German, history, Italian studies, Mediterranean studies, political science, religious studies, Russian studies, sociology, Spanish or urban and regional studies. 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. Additionally, students must complete foreign language study through the advanced level (300, 305, 320 or 321) by course or placement, unless this level of instruction is not available in the chosen language. (In such cases, the faculty adviser will assist the student in identifying appropriate language study options at other U.S. institutions or abroad.) International studies students 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 either a general international studies major (offered with a humanities emphasis in the School of World Studies or a social science emphasis in the Wilder School), or students must choose a major with a global studies concentration (with options in both World Studies or Wilder School) or a geographical area studies concentration (available only through World Studies). Students may choose the program of study that best fits their interests.

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, 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 reviewed and stamped by an SWS adviser 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.
  • 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
Summer study-abroad programs provide students with opportunities for short-term immersion in the language, culture and civilization of the countries they visit. A list of current VCU study abroad opportunities can be found at VCU is a member of the International Student Exchange Program, which offers junior year abroad programs at one of 40 universities worldwide. For more information about study abroad, visit the School of World Studies website at

Degree requirements for International Studies, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

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, students will know and know how to do the following:

  1. Possess knowledge regarding interrelationship between local and global institutions, cultures, languages and religions
  2. Possess knowledge regarding the differences and unity of human values, aspirations and concerns
  3. Possess knowledge regarding local and global issues of social justice, human rights and sustainability
  4. Be able to read, write and orally communicate well
  5. Be able to think ethically, critically and creatively
  6. Be able to think globally and engage thoughtfully with society
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 300-level (300, 305, 320 or 321) 3-9
World Passport completion 0
Major requirements (31 credits)  
INTL 101 Human Societies and Globalization 3
INTL/POLI 105 International Relations 3
INTL/SOCY 330 Global Societies: Trends and Issues 3
INTL/POLI 362 International Organizations and Institutions 3
INTL 398 Directed Study Abroad (or other approved study-abroad experience) or INTL 493 International Studies Internship or an approved service-learning or independent study course 0-3
INTL 490 Seminar in International Issues (capstone) 3
INTL 499 Senior Seminar 1
INTL general curriculum electives* 12-15
Open electives (34-54 credits)  
Open electives 34-54
Total minimum requirement 120

* To complete the major credit requirements in international studies, students plan course work comprised of a coherent set of courses deepening their knowledge in a particular area. Students must formulate and seek pre-approval of their course plan through the SWS Advising Office. A minimum of 21 credits within the major must be earned through upper-level course work (300- and 400-level).

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Last update: 6/21/2013

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