Published annually, the Course Catalog sets out the requirements of the academic programs--the majors, minors, and concentrations. Each Bryn Mawr student must declare her major before the end of her sophomore year. Students may also declare a minor or a concentration, but neither is required for the A.B. degree. Students must comply with the requirements published in the Course Catalog at the time when they declare the major, minor and/or concentration.

The Course Catalog also sets out the College requirements. Students must comply with the College requirements published at the time they enter Bryn Mawr College.

For more information, visit the Catalog Homepage to view the current content. To view Catalogs from previous academic years, visit the Catalog Archives page.

International Studies is the study of relationships among people and states affected by increasingly permeable borders and facing global issues. International Studies aims to prepare students to be responsible citizens by introducing them to issues of importance in an increasingly interdependent world of global dynamics in politics, economics, ideas, language, and culture. At Bryn Mawr, International Studies combines applied and theoretical approaches by drawing from disciplines in both the Social Sciences and Humanities. This broad conception of International Studies distinguishes our program from many others. It builds from a core of courses from politics, economics, and ethics, a branch of philosophy, and then incorporates electives from specified tracks that reflect areas of strength in faculty research and teaching. It allows students to explore the descriptive and normative aspects of living in a world characterized by the deep interconnections of a globalized world. It thus draws on Bryn Mawr's longstanding interest in promoting justice with its already established coursework at the undergraduate level and at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research and on its well established programs in languages and cultures.

The curricular content is relevant in preparing graduates to participate critically and effectively in the many integrated transnational and global institutional networks of production, services, creative expression, research and governance. Thus students with specialties in the Humanities, Social Sciences, or Sciences can benefit from a visible and structured flow of courses in International Studies. The inter and multi-disciplinary approaches reflected in the structure for the major as well as for the minor reflect the kind of integrative thinking that is necessary for effective agency in the globalized world economy and society. Students in International Studies will be made aware of both the distinct modes of inquiry that may transcend disciplines and the cumulative effects of convergent examinations of phenomena from these different disciplinary perspectives.

International Studies engages students in the necessarily inter- and multi-disciplinary coursework that will prepare them for productive roles in transnational or intergovernmental institutions and in the areas of public policy, law, governance, public health, medicine, business, diplomacy, journalism, and development. Courses cover both theoretical perspectives and empirical issues in different areas of the world. International Studies at Bryn Mawr provides a foundation for students interested in pursuing career opportunities in these areas or in entering graduate programs such as International Politics/Relations, International Political Economy/Development Studies, International Law and Institutions, and Organizational Theory and Leadership.

A Bryn Mawr graduate in International Studies will be:

  • Capable of integrative analysis from different disciplinary perspectives
  • Ethically literate
  • Prepared for work in related fields such as law, public health, medicine, business, and journalism as well as for graduate study in International Politics/Relations, International Political Economy/Development Studies, International Law and Institutions, and Organizational Theory and Leadership
  • Able to contribute their knowledge and leadership skills within governmental and nongovernmental organizations at transnational, regional, or global levels or in cross-cultural settings.

Although language study is not required per se for the major or the minor, students can take advantage of Bryn Mawr's traditional strength in the study of language and culture to enhance their study of non-Anglophone areas of the world. Those intending to study abroad in a non-Anglophone area must meet the level of proficiency required by the Junior Year Abroad program involved; and those intending to undertake graduate work in international studies should plan to acquire the advanced level of proficiency in one foreign language (at the time of admission or graduation) required by the most selective programs here and abroad. Since it began in 2005, the minor in International Studies has attracted a significant number of language majors who use their study of a particular language to select a coherent set of electives under a relevant track in the minor in order to pursue career and study opportunities in the international arena.

Major Requirements

Students majoring in International Studies must complete a total of ten courses, which include a core of four courses, an elective track of four courses, and a senior capstone experience of either two courses (398 and 399) OR 398 and an additional 300 level course. Students should work with their major adviser to identify one writing intensive or two writing attentive courses to fulfill the major writing requirement.

Please note that some of the courses listed in the core have prerequisites, which may increase the total number of courses for the major in International Studies to eleven. Also note that no more than two courses in an International Studies major work plan can be used to satisfy another major, minor, or concentration requirement.

Core Courses

The Core is a mix of 100-300 level courses in International fields. Students must choose one course from among four eligible courses in EACH of Politics, Economics, and Philosophy (at least one of which is at the 300 level). They must also choose one course from among ten in Culture and Interpretation, a requirement in the core that is unique to Bryn Mawr. The rationale for the two parts of the Core (Politics, Economics, and Philosophy and Culture and Interpretation) are given below along with corresponding lists of eligible courses under each. The disciplines of Politics, Economics, and Philosophy have become central to International Studies programs since markets, conflicts, diplomacy and rules are nested in values and norms as much as in state territories and institutional framings. The program at Bryn Mawr is distinctive in having the requirement that students take an ethics course in which they study topics in areas such as global ethical issues, development ethics, global justice, and human rights.

The eligible courses for the Politics, Economics, and Philosophy component of the core are:

Political Science

  • Introduction to International Politics (POLS B250), or International Politics (POLS H151)
  • Politics of International Law and Institutions (POLS B241)
  • International Political Economy (POLS B391)
  • Topics in International Politics (POLS H350)


  • Economic Development (ECON B225), or Economic Development and Transformation: China vs. India (ECON H240)
  • The Economics of Globalization (ECON B236)
  • Democracy and Development (ECON B385), or Economics of Transition and Euro Adoption in Central and Eastern Europe (ECON H241)

NOTE: Introduction to Economics (ECON B105) is a prerequisite for all other Economics courses.


  • Global Ethical Issues (PHIL B225), or Human Rights and Global Politics (POLS H262)
  • Applied Ethics of Peace, Justice and Human Rights (PEAC H201)
  • Development Ethics (PHIL B344)
  • Global Justice (POLS H362)

If none of the eligible core courses from a particular discipline in the Politics, Economics, and Philosophy core is available in any given year, substitutions will be allowed with another allied course offered at Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore or Penn, with the approval of an Advisor from International Studies.

Culture and Interpretation

Also in the core, and unique to Bryn Mawr, Culture and Interpretation teaches how language, aesthetics, beliefs, values, and customs can shape possibilities for cross-cultural understanding and dialogue in globalizing polities, economies and societies.  Courses satisfying this requirement cover a broad perspective that teaches students about differing cultures and what it means to interpret or make cross-cultural comparisons and engage in cross-cultural dialogue in the global context. The list of eligible courses is, therefore, drawn from courses taught by Advisors from a range of key disciplines in International Studies: Anthropology, Cities, Comparative Literature, History, Philosophy, Sociology, and Languages and Area Studies. The course is meant to be a broad analysis of culture and interpretation that does not focus on a country or region in isolation from this broad analysis. Each of the courses selected from the range of disciplines capture this breadth and depth. Students interested in studying a specific region of the world separate from its global implications can pursue this study in one of the tracks. The eligible courses for the Culture and Interpretation component of the core are:

  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (ANTH B102)
  • Culture and Interpretation (COML, or COML B323)
  • The Play of Interpretation (COML B293)
  • Chinese Perspectives on the Individual and Society (at Haverford) (EALC H120)
  • La Mosaique France (FREN B251)
  • Cultural Profiles in Modern Exile (GERM B231)
  • Introduction to Latin American, Latino, and Iberian Peoples and Cultures (GNST B245)
  • The Atlantic World 1492-1800 (HIST B200)
  • British Empire: Imagining Indias (HIST B258)
  • Society, Culture and the Individual (SOCL B102)
  • Introduction to African Civilization (HIST B102)
  • Modern African History since 1800 (HIST B236)
  • Social and Cultural History of Medicine in Africa (HIST B336)

With the approval of an Advisor from International Studies, substitutions may be allowed in the case of the ten eligible courses for the Culture and Interpretation component of the core when none is available in any given year.


Elective Tracks allow students to focus on one theme or area in greater depth across four
courses, one of which must be at the 300 level.

The electives continue to anchor the major in inter- and multidisciplinary work while also adding flexibility so that students may be creative and purposeful in structuring their own work. What makes International Studies at Bryn Mawr unique is that it draws upon its established faculty research, resources, and reputations in the individual tracks at the same time as it offers flexibility under clear advising for each of the individualized pathways of learning. Students should choose the four electives from the approved lists under one of the tracks identified below.

The FOUR elective courses are to be selected from (but are not limited to) courses listed under the tracks at: The listed courses are a starting point for collaboration between the student and the major advisor.  Students should also check the International Studies Web site or the Tri-College Course Guide for information about courses that are offered in the current year.

Students may choose one of the following tracks:


Bryn Mawr's "proud history of global leadership for women" makes gender an obvious choice as one of the tracks enabling students to complete the Major in International Studies. To make good on Bryn Mawr's mission to prepare "students to be purposefully engaged citizens of an increasingly complex and interconnected world", the student in International Studies who selects the Gender track will study gender and its intersections with factors such as race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion, and disability in order to analyze gender with respect to the workings of the global economy and globalization more generally. Although not always the case, many organizations at the local, national, and global levels now understand gender to be a central factor in policies for alleviating poverty or promoting economic growth. The changes wrought by measures such as improving health care for women and children and increasing access to education, property, and work outside the home shows the importance of understanding gender and its intersections with other forms of discrimination in a globalized and interconnected world.

The FOUR elective courses are to be selected from (but are not limited to) an approved list at:  The listed courses are a starting point for collaboration between the student and the major advisor.


Development is most often understood in terms of processes of economic growth, industrialization, and modernization that result in a society's achieving a high (per capita) gross domestic product. These descriptions of economic processes tend to embed assumptions about progress, transformation, and liberation as exemplified in concepts such as "underdeveloped" or "developing" countries. The student in International Studies who selects this track will study the concept of development in a broad sense by using a multidisciplinary approach that combines courses from disciplines such as Anthropology, Economics, Cities, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology to effectively understand development processes from multiple perspectives. One result is an exploration of development that broadens the study from describing economic deprivation in terms of levels of income, for example, to understanding the ways in which equality, justice, well-being, and human flourishing are affected by growth and modernization processes. The student selecting the Development track will become versed in the critical issues, problems, and achievements common not only to developing regions of the world but also to developed countries and the world as a whole.

The FOUR elective courses are to be selected from (but are not limited to) an approved list at:  The listed courses are a starting point for collaboration between the student and the major advisor.

Global Social Justice

Efforts to realize social justice are increasingly necessary in global systems as much as they had always been in national and local ones. The Global Social Justice track will allow students to make connections at all these levels. They will be able to draw on the long tradition of focus on Social Justice at Bryn Mawr and Haverford and on collaboration with the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research and its thrust on Social Welfare. Bryn Mawr's mission statement identifies the characteristics of a Bryn Mawr education as "critical thinking, interdisciplinary perspective, engagement in a diverse community, and purposeful vision of social justice". The Global Social Justice track allows students to explore issues of social and political change in the context of economic and political transition in the globalized world. Students gain insight into how global issues affect relationships among people and cultures within and across national boundaries and how global issues are in turn affected by these relationships. They will study the ways in which dramatic economic disparities wrought by globalization and the global economy affect social welfare and thwart efforts to achieve social justice locally, nationally, and globally.  The FOUR elective courses are to be selected from (but are not limited to) an approved list at:  The listed courses are a starting point for collaboration between the student and the major advisor.

Independent Design

Students who are so inclined may develop an independent design in consultation with an Advisor from the Center for International Studies. An Independent Design could include area studies that draw on Bryn Mawr's strengths in the study of languages and cultures and on our programs in Africana Studies, East Asian Studies and Latin American, Latino and Iberian Peoples and Cultures.

Senior Capstone Experience

The capstone experience consists of two 300 level courses, 398 and 399, OR 398 and an additional 300 level course in International Studies.

The 398 seminar will have students do research, presentations, and final essays that delve deeper into topics from relevant courses in previously taken tracks and may incorporate experiences in Praxis courses, Summer internships, or Study Abroad. Should a student select to take 399 instead of an additional 300 level course, the 398 seminar could also be the basis for students to identify and begin preliminary work on research projects for 399 – including the exploration of theoretical perspectives and research methods that will provide a framework for their research and the matching of students with faculty serving as individual supervisors.

While most individualized supervision for those taking 399 will be of students writing a senior thesis, designated advisors in International Studies will work with those students who select to produce an extended document using platforms such as DVD documentary, a website, or a PowerPoint talk with pictures and video clips instead of writing a senior thesis.

Minor Requirements

The Minor in International Studies has been in place since 2005. Students who have declared a Minor and have not yet graduated should consult with one of the Co-Directors of International Studies to determine whether to continue under the old requirements for the Minor, switch to doing a Major in International Studies, or make slight adjustments to the requirements for the Minor in light of revisions that now have the core requirements for the Minor in line with those for the Major.

The Minor has always attracted and will continue to attract students who major in a language, arts, an area study, Political Science, or Economics. It will be possible, however, for select students to pursue one of the tracks in the major under consultation with an Advisor from International Studies.

Students minoring in International Studies must complete a total of seven courses, which include a required core of four courses and an elective track of three courses. Please note that some of the courses listed in the core have prerequisites, which may increase the total number of courses for the minor in International Studies to eight.

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