Majors & Programs


International & Area Studies

​Majoring in International & Area Studies (IAS) allows you to develop a broad understanding of the world, while exploring the diversity and richness of other cultures. What makes an IAS major powerful is its interdisciplinary nature. Whether in the classroom or on a study abroad program, IAS at Washington University opens up the world to you.

Careers Related to International & Area Studies

This exciting and evolving field of study opens up many career paths for you in the public and private sector, including business, education, academia, diplomacy, nonprofits, and law. Many graduates discover that their familiarity with foreign cultures and languages gives them an added advantage in their search for employment.

Others have expanded their international experiences in the year or two following graduation by participating in the Fulbright Student Program, teaching English abroad, or serving in the Peace Corps. And some choose to continue their education through master’s degree programs in international studies or graduate programs in business, law, medicine, or other fields.

A Strong Program with Variety

IAS at Washington University is an established program consisting of a wide range of courses from a variety of departments. Our strengths include:

  • A strong faculty drawn from many different departments—with special expertise in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East—to offer you opportunities to explore particular areas of the world in depth.
  • A diversity of courses, including those which examine dynamic processes such as global financial markets or development experiences of different regions.
  • An emphasis on undergraduate research, including opportunities to publish and present completed projects.
  • Available instruction in 14 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Swahili, and most European languages.

A Vibrant Community

Many IAS students committed to furthering international awareness enjoy participating in Sigma Iota Rho, the International & Area Studies Honorary. The Washington University chapter of this national organization fosters an academic, activist, and social community for IAS majors. Each year, the honorary presents a number of public events and service projects on international issues for the campus and greater St. Louis community.

Opportunities to Study Abroad

Studying abroad for a summer, a semester, or a year opens up a world of possibilities and encourages you to embark on a lifelong journey of international education. You will have the opportunity to experience other cultures, improve your foreign-language skills, and study specialized subjects. Spending time in a different area of the world can be an especially valuable complement to your IAS major. Most students find the experience career-enhancing and even life-transforming.

Through our office of Overseas Programs, you may choose from a wide array of programs in countries appropriate to your concentration; a complete list of programs is available at

  • Programs are available for IAS majors in Argentina, Australia, the Balkans, Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan,  Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Russia, Samoa, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

Global Citizenship

One optional gateway to the IAS major is the Global Citizenship Program (GCP), a special year-long program for first-year students. GCP students work with IAS faculty in a small group setting, develop a network of passionate and similarly-minded peers, and explore what it means to be a citizen in a globalized and connected society.  In addition, students develop their leadership potential through the creation and execution of their own internationally-focused events on Washington University’s campus.

General Information About the Major in International & Area Studies

There are five concentrations available to IAS majors. All are designed to provide you with a comparative, interdisciplinary perspective on the world.

As an IAS major or minor, you must successfully complete a four-semester sequence of language instruction in your chosen language program (other than English). You must complete one semester of language before declaring the major.

  • Development focuses on the interaction of politics, history, culture, society, and economics as we try to understand what governments and societies do to promote or hinder growth and development, and how those actions influence social arenas.
  • Eurasian Studies focuses on the historic and contemporary social, cultural, and economic interconnections among the peoples of Eurasia, the vast landmass stretching east/west from China to Europe. Language requirement must be met with a Eurasian language.
  • European Studies focuses on the culture, history, politics, and economics of contemporary Europe, giving students a broad interdisciplinary perspective on the European contribution to world politics and cultural exchange. Language requirement must be met with a European language.
  • Global Cultural Studies focuses on the practical and theoretical issues arising from cross-cultural encounters around the world.  You will study these both by examining conventional cultural products (literature, film, visual art, and music) and investigating their broader political and social contexts.
  • International Affairs focuses on an interdisciplinary approach to understanding relations between societies. It provides opportunities to examine complex global issues and processes from multiple perspectives, to help understand the fundamental processes of cooperation, compromise, and conflict in the global arena.

Senior Honors Thesis

If you have a strong academic record, you are encouraged to work toward honors by writing a senior thesis under the supervision of a faculty member.  This experience allows you to draw from your interdisciplinary coursework and to synthesize, compare and consolidate the various approaches and theories you have explored.

The Russian Language and Literature Minor

The Russian Language and Literature Minor focuses on achieving a high level of proficiency in the Russian language and the in depth study of Russian literature. Language requirement must be met with Russian. While this minor is administered by IAS, it is not a minor within the IAS program.

For additional information about this minor, contact Professor Mikhail Palatnik at

The Asian American Studies Minor

The Asian American Studies Minor aims to enrich understanding about both individual experiences and collective histories of Asian Americans in regional, national, and transnational contexts. The Minor can nicely complement a major in American Culture Studies, East Asian Studies, History, International and Area Studies, etc. While this minor is administered by IAS it is not a minor within the IAS program.

For additional information about this minor, contact Dr. Linling Gao-Miles at

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