Frequently Asked Questions
about the International Studies Major
1) NEW: Are there any pre-requisites for the PICS major?
Yes. Students must complete CICS 101 with a C- or better grade.
Students must be enrolled in their fourth semester of language (or placed out).
Students planning on electing the Political Economy and Development
sub-plan must complete ECON 101 first.
2) May I count 100 level course toward the major?
100-level courses may not be counted toward an international studies major.
3) What are the requirements for a PICS honors major?
If you're considering an honors major you will need to have an overall GPA of 3.4 with a grade of B+ or better in your CICS 101 class. During your senior year you will need to enroll in two additional three-credit classes, CICS 498 in the Fall, and CICS 499 in the Winter. You will also be required to write an honors thesis and you will be responsible for finding a faculty member to serve as your thesis advisor. Both your thesis topic and your thesis advisor must be approved by the PICS director prior to your beginning work on the thesis.
4) How many double-counted courses will apply toward my double major?
PICS does not have a limit on the number of courses double counted with a second major.
5) Is it possible for me to apply alternative credits (e.g., an internship, transfer credits,
independent study, or non-LSA courses) toward an international studies major?
In some cases it is, but we will need to evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis. A few things to remember: PICS does not have its own independent study course; you have to arrange independent study through another department while requesting that we apply the course toward your international studies major. The same applies to internships—PICS does not have a course number for internships, but you may petition us for credit toward the major if you are getting credit in another department.
In both of these cases, however, credit toward the sub-plan core is unlikely to be granted—but credit as an elective is possible. To seek approval for a course you've taken or are thinking of taking, you will need to follow the standard course approval instructions (for either sub-plans or electives) detailed below.
6) How does study abroad credit count toward my major?
First, you have to receive U-M credit. If your study abroad program is arranged through the Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS) then this shouldn't be an issue, but if your program is organized by another university you must arrange for the other university to transfer the credits, and for Michigan to accept them. We encourage you to make sure this is all arranged to your satisfaction before you commit to any given non U-M study abroad program.
Study abroad credits, once they are posted to your U-M transcript, may be used to satisfy either the one regional course requirement or the elective requirements. In general, only one course may be counted towards the sub-plan core per semester abroad, with any exceptions approved by the PICS director. You will also need to give us course descriptions for all study abroad courses you want us to approve.
1) How would I get a course approved for inclusion in a sub-plan?
With the many choices available on the sub-plan menus of approved courses, most students are able to find the courses they both need and want to take. Nevertheless, if you come upon a course that you think appropriate for your sub-plan, but is not on the approved list, we’ll be happy to review it. To request a course review, you will need to fill out and e-mail a Course Approval Form.
2) What if none of the tracks fit exactly what I am looking for,
may I create my own track?
1) May I take more than one language in the same region to reach the six semester
Yes, but only if you have completed at least two semesters of course-work in the first language. At that point you may submit a written request to a PICS student advisor requesting approval to study a second regional language. Once you have received approval, you would then need to complete enough courses in that language to bring you to six total terms of language study--divided between the two approved regional languages.
2) What is sixth term language proficiency?
All PICS majors must attain six term proficiency in a language other than English, during their course of study. To clarify what constitutes proficiency in frequently chosen languages, please see this list for the following languages: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Chinese, Hindi, Urdu, Japanese, Korean, German, Czech, Polish, and Russian. Please contact a PICS advisor if your language is not listed.
3) Does my language have to match my region?
Yes. If your language of study is Spanish, for example, you may focus on any Spanish-speaking country or region. If you receive approval to study both Spanish and Quechua (an indigenous language of the South American Andes), you would then be required to focus on the region of South American in which both Spanish and Quechua are spoken.
4) What counts as a regional course?
A regional course should focus on a single world region as it connects to your language of study. Upper level language courses beyond the 6th term language requirement that have a focus on culture,history, arts. etc. may work as a regional course as well as relevant study abroad courses. Examples:
Language: Spanish Region: Latin America
Courses: POLSCI 347 Politics and Society in Latin America; SPANISH 328 Studies in Hispanic Popular Culture; STDABRD 240 Spanish Culture
Language: French Region: Western Europe
Courses: FRENCH 369 Literature, History, and Culture of Modernity; WOMENSTD 317 Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800
1) When should I plan to take CICS 301, and 401? Am I required to take them in order?
We would like to see you take the core courses in order, but we understand that this is not always feasible and we do not require it. Take 301, and 401 in whatever order best works with your schedule, even if that means you take two of them concurrently. Keep in mind though that the CICS 401 seminar is restricted to 3rd- and 4th-year students only.
2) What semesters are 101, 205, 301, and 401 offered?
CICS 101, 301 and 401 are offered both Fall and Winter each year. CICS 205 is offered in the Fall term only (required for the Comparative Culture and Identity sub-plan only)
3) Is there a way for me to get a course approved as a CICS 401?
No, you'll have to take a genuine CICS 401 seminar. There are several CICS 401 seminars, with varying topics, offered each Fall and Winter term.
1) How do I get a course approved as an elective?
E-mail the course title and course description to a PICS advisor. Include a note with the language you’re studying, your sub-plan focus, and your UMID number. You may also schedule an advising appointment for elective course approvals.
2) What kinds of courses may I take as electives?
Your electives should focus on the world region as it connects to the your language of study, or you may elect courses that build upon your sub-plan focus. There is no pre-approved list for electives. You may take additional sub-plan (your selected sub-plan only), regional, or relevant study abroad courses. Remember that all electives must be pre-approved by a PICS advisor.
3) May I select courses from a different sub-plan and count them among my electives?
Yes, but only if the course in question connects to your world region or sub-plan focus. And again, please bear in mind that all electives must be pre-approved by a PICS advisor.
4) Are there restrictions on elective courses outside of topic... for example, is there a limit
to how many 200- or 300-level courses I might count toward my elective requirement?
The only restriction is that you may not apply 100-level courses toward the satisfaction of your elective requirements.