International Affairs

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

Course code for this program is IAFS. 

Bachelor's Degree Program(s)

Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs

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, major elective, 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 sections only); ANTH 4500 Cross-cultural Aspects of Socioeconomic Development; ANTH 4510 Applied Cultural Anthropology; ECON 3784 Economic Development; ECON 4774 Economic Reform in the Developing Countries; ECON 4784 Economic Development; ECON 4794 Economic Growth; GEOG 3682 Geography of International Development; GEOG/ECON 4292 Migration, Urbanization, & Development; JOUR 4201 International Mass Communication (International Media Certificate students only); LING 3545 World Language Policies; PSCI 4012 Global Development; PSCI 4732 Critical Thinking in Development; SOCY 3002 Population and Society; SOCY 3012 Women & 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, and 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 The New Institutional Economics: Institutions, Contracts and Economic Outcomes; ECON 4545 Environmental Economics; ECON 4999 Economics in Action (approved sections only); FNCE 4060 London Summer in International Finance; INBU 4200 International Financial Management; INBU 4300 International Business and Management; MKTG 3450 International Business and Marketing; PSCI 4193 International Political Economy; PSCI 4272 The Political Economy of Advanced Industrial Democracies

Political Geography, International Security, Foreign Policy (Functional Area III)
ANTH 4580 The Holocaust; GEOG 4712 Political Geography; GEOG 4742 Environments and Peoples (approved sections only); HIST 4050 The World War II Era; HIST 4126 US Diplomatic History since 1940; HIST 4146 Military History; HIST 4166 The War in Vietnam and its Legacy; PHIL 3190 War & Morality; PSCI 3123 War, Peace and Strategic Defense; PSCI 3143 Problems in International Relations; PSCI 3163 American Foreign Policy; PSCI 3191 National Security Organization and Policy Making; PSCI 3193 International Behavior

International Institutions, Rights, and Norms (Functional Area IV)
HIST 4820 Human Rights: Historical Perspectives; JOUR 4341 Global Media (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 4783 Global Issues; SOCY/ENVS 4027 Inequality, Democracy, and the Environment; SOCY 4111/INVS 4402 Nonviolent Social Movements; SOCY 4121 Sociology of Religion; WMST 3700 Contemporary Topics in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (approved sections only)

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

  • Major Elective (3 hours)
    Students must complete one additional class from any functional area or the student’s geographic concentration.
  • 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 of C- or better, while also satisfying language department requirements for advancement through the sequence, or by certification from the appropriate department of such competence.
  • 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 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 upper-division functional area 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 3.400 major GPA and a 3.300 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 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.

Certificate Program

International Media Certificate

An International Media Certificate is available to students of international affairs or journalism. This certificate allows students majoring in international affairs to explore careers in international reporting, advertising, and entertainment, while journalism majors will acquire the context and perspective necessary to work in global and international jobs.

The certificate requires 24–25 credit hours (depending on the lower-division courses chosen). Fifteen of the credit hours must be upper-division courses. Students majoring in international affairs are eligible to apply for admission to the certificate program if they have completed 30 credit hours and 6 credits of courses in their major with a GPA of 2.750 or better. For more information consult