International Affairs

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Foreign:$ 55.9 k / Year(s) Deadline: Nov 15, 2024
131 place StudyQA ranking:3122 Duration:4 years

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With the increasing importance of world issues to the United States, employment opportunities in government, international organizations and business continue to expand. Today there is an urgent need for college graduates with a strong background in international affairs. To meet this need, the University of Colorado offers a comprehensive and flexible interdisciplinary program in international affairs leading to the BA degree.

The undergraduate degree in international affairs emphasizes knowledge and awareness of:

  • major political, economic, social and ­cultural problems facing the international community, including international economic relations, world population and ­resource utilization
  • the international political system in the broadest global context, international organizations and alliances and foreign political systems and processes
  • ethical issues involved in international relations
  • patterns of conflict and ­cooperation among nations and peoples
  • chief historical factors that give rise to existing international institutions and processes
  • problems and issues in United States foreign policy  

In addition, students completing the ­degree in international affairs are expected to acquire the ability and skills to:

  • analyze an international problem from a political, economic, historical and cultural perspective
  • read, critically evaluate and synthesize information obtained from international affairs literature
  • analyze international phenomena critically 
  • communicate, orally and in writing, findings to other students of international affairs and to a broader audience
  • communicate in other cultural contexts through advanced foreign language study

Students must complete the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences and a minimum of 51 hours of specified courses with a grade of C- or better (none may be taken pass/fail), distributed as follows

Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours

Lower-division (18 hours)

  • ECON 2010 Principles of Microeconomics—4
  • ECON 2020 Principles of Macroeconomics—4
  • IAFS 1000 Global Issues and International Affairs—4
  • PSCI 2012 Introduction to Comparative Politics—3
  • PSCI 2223 Introduction to International Relations—3


Complete the requirements listed below for functional area, geographic concentration, off-campus experience, foreign language and senior seminar. IAFS 3000 can be repeated up to 9 credits for different topics.

Functional Area (18 hours)

Students must complete one class in each of the four functional areas and complete two additional classes in any functional area. Students cannot apply more than four functional area classes from any one department.

Development and Culture (Functional Area I)

  • ANTH 4020 Explorations in Anthropology (approved topics only)
  • ANTH 4500 Cross-cultural Aspects of Socioeconomic Development
  • COMM 3410 Intercultural Communication
  • ECON 3784 Economic Development
  • ECON/GEOG 4292 Migration, Urbanization and Development
  • ECON 4774 Economic Reform in Developing Countries
  • ECON 4784 Economic Development
  • ECON 4794 Economic Growth
  • GEOG 3682 Geography of International Development
  • GEOG 4632 Development Geography
  • GEOG 4852 Medical Geography
  • IAFS/JWST 3600 Global Secular Jewish Societies
  • LING 3545 World Language Policies
  • MOST 3201 Media, Culture and Globalization (International Media Certificate students only)
  • PSCI 4012 Global Development
  • PSCI 4732 Critical Thinking in Development
  • SOCY 3002 Population and Society
  • SOCY/WMST 3012 Women and Development
  • SOCY 4007 Global Human Ecology
  • SOCY 4052 Social Inequalities of Health
  • WMST 3500 Global Gender Issues
  • WMST 4300 Sex, Power and Politics: International Perspectives

International Economics, Business, Political Economy (Functional Area II)

  • ECON 3403 International Economics and Policy
  • ECON 3545 Environmental Economics
  • ECON 4413 International Trade
  • ECON 4423 International Finance
  • ECON 4504 New Institutional Economics
  • ECON 4545 Environmental Economics
  • FNCE 4060 London Summer in International Finance
  • INBU 3300 International Business and Management
  • INBU 3450 International Business and Marketing
  • INBU 4200 International Financial Management
  • PSCI 4193 International Political Economy

Political Geography, International Security, Foreign Policy (Functional Area III)

  • ANTH/JWST 4580 The Holocaust
  • GEOG 3742 Place, Power and Contemporary Culture
  • GEOG 4712 Political Geography
  • GEOG 4742 Peoples and Environments (approved topics only)
  • HIST 4050 A Global History of World War II 
  • HIST 4126 History of U.S. Foreign Relations since 1941
  • HIST 4146 Military History
  • HIST 4166 The Vietnam War in Politics and Culture
  • IAFS 3500/HIST 4190 French Connections (Global Seminar)
  • IAFS/JWST 3650 History of Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • PHIL 3190 War and Morality
  • PSCI 3123 War, Peace and Strategic Defense
  • PSCI 3143 Problems in International Relations
  • PSCI 3163 American Foreign Policy
  • PSCI 3193 International Behavior

International Institutions, Rights and Norms (Functional Area IV)

  • HIST 4820 Human Rights: Historical Perspectives
  • JOUR 4341 International Media and Global Crises (International Media Certificate students only)
  • PHIL 3260 Philosophy and International Order
  • PRLC 3810 Global Issues in Leadership
  • PSCI 3062 Revolution and Political Violence
  • PSCI 4173 International Organization
  • PSCI 4183 International Law
  • PSCI 4252 Politics of Ethnicity and Nationalism
  • PSCI 4783 Global Issues
  • SOCY/ENVS 4027 Inequality, Democracy, Environment
  • SOCY 4111/INVS 4402 Nonviolent Social Movements
  • SOCY 4121 Sociology of Religion
  • WMST 3220 Women in Islam
  • WMST 3710 Topics in Global Gender and Sexuality (approved topics only) 
  • WMST 4010/SOCY 4000 Gender, Genocide and Mass Trauma
  • WMST 4500/PSCI 4391 Gender Politics and Global Activism

Geographic Concentration (9 hours)

Students are required to complete three classes concentrating on one of the four following global regions: Africa/Middle East, Asia, Europe/Eurasia or Latin America. Students should choose a geographic concentration and a language appropriate to that geographic concentration no later than the beginning of their junior year.

Geographic concentration coursework should be mainly in the social sciences, must include one course in contemporary history and can include a maximum of three credits of regional literature and arts (taught in the foreign language whenever possible). See for geographic concentration courses.

Off-Campus Experience (3 hours)

Complete 3 upper division credit hours to fulfill the Off-Campus Experience from one of: IAFS 4930, Internship in International Affairs; a study abroad course; a CU in DC course; or other credit-bearing off-campus experience approved by the program. 

Language Requirement

A third-year university-level proficiency in a foreign language appropriate to the geographic concentration is required. This requirement may be met by completion of one or two semester-long, third year, university-level grammar courses (depending on the language) with a grade C-of or better, while also satisfying language department requirements for advancement through the sequence. See for more information.

Senior Seminar (3 hours)

IAFS 4500 Post-Cold War World or IAFS 4800 Honors Seminar in International Affairs is required.


  • All international affairs majors should have a good command of the English language.
  • Students should choose electives with a view to their relevance to this program or usefulness as prerequisites for upper-division work.
  • During the semester prior to graduation, students must complete a statement of major status obtained from their advisor.
  • Students in the international affairs program are encouraged to consider the possibility of participating in one of the Study Abroad programs affiliated with the University of Colorado. Students wishing to participate in such a program should contact their advisor to work out an appropriate program. 
  • Internships are a useful experience for students seeking a career in international affairs. The Internship in International Affairs (IAFS 4930) provides the opportunity to earn academic credit for appropriate internships in the field. This course is generally offered during the spring and fall semesters and during summer sessions; enrollments are limited. Interested sophomores, juniors or seniors should consult with the director of the Internship Program. An application is required for admission to the Internship Program; see for more details. IAFS 4930 could count for major elective and/or geographic concentration credit with approval from the internship director.
  • The IAFS Honors Program offers the opportunity to learn and apply research skills for a select number of IAFS majors. Entry into the IAFS Honors Program is limited to seniors with a 3.40 major GPA and a 3.30 overall GPA. The Honors Seminar in International Affairs (IAFS 4800—offered each fall semester) provides instruction in research methods and facilitates the development of a sound research project. Research continues into the spring semester under the guidance of individual faculty members and through the continuation course, Honors in International Affairs (IAFS 4810). Interested and eligible students should consult with their academic advisor and the director of the Honors Program before spring break of their junior year. An application is required for admission to the Honors Program; see for more details. IAFS 4810 could count for either an upper-division functional area and/or a geographic concentration class with approval from the honors director.
  • Students interested in international affairs may want to consider the Global Studies Residential Academic Program offered through the residence halls. See Residential Academic Programs for information.

The specific courses that may be counted to meet the requirements in this program are determined by the committee on international affairs and the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Graduating in Four Years

Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress in international affairs, students should meet the following requirements: 

  • Declare the major by the beginning of the second semester
  • Begin language study by the third semester
  • Complete the lower-division requirements by the end of the sophomore year
  • Begin area of geographic concentration courses in first semester of the junior year
  • Begin upper-division general international affairs requirements in the first semester of the junior year
  • Successfully complete any remaining major requirements by the end of the eighth semester


  • Online application for admission 
  • $50 nonrefundable ($70 U.S. for international students) application fee, payable online (if sending a check or money order, make payable to the University of Colorado; print student’s name and date of birth on check)
  • Official high school transcript
  • Official college transcripts (if applicable)
  • SAT or ACT test scores (if applicable)
  • Personal essays
  • Letter of recommendation
  • TOEFL iBT 80, IELTS 6.5


  • International students are eligible for a few merit-based CU Boulder scholarships, but must submit official ACT or SAT scores as part of the application to be considered.
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