Degree Requirements

With the option to take courses across more than a dozen disciplines, international studies majors have a great deal of latitude in constructing their programs of study. Nevertheless, there are several requirements to keep in mind. See also FAQ page.

Core International Studies Courses

Students must complete core international studies courses.

  • INTLSTD 101: Introduction to International Studies
  • INTLSTD 301: Topics of International Studies
  • INTLSTD 401: Advanced Seminar

For the core courses for International Studies majors doing a sub-plan in Comparative Culture and Identity please see the sub-plan requirements.

Grade Grievances: If you have concerns about or are considering disputing a grade you have received in one of the core international studies courses (INTLSTD 101, 301, or 401) please review the International Studies Grade Grievance Policy.

Subplan Requirements

Select one of four sub-plans:

  • International Security, Norms and Cooperation
  • Political Economy and Development
    Students planning on electing the Political Economy and Development sub-plan must complete ECON 101 first. Students in this sub-plan must take one ECON course from the sub-plan list.
  • Global Environment and Health
  • Comparative Culture and Identity 
    Students who declared major in Winter 2013 or after, within the Comparative Culture and Identity sub-plan must take INTLSTD 205. All students in this sub-plan must take one of the following COMPLIT courses: COMPLIT 222 (offered in Winter only), COMPLIT 240 (offered in Fall only), or COMPLIT 322

..and complete at least four courses from that sub-plan's list of approved courses,
with the stipulation that:

  • at least one of those four courses is at the 400 level, and that
  • the four courses are spread across at least two academic subjects, and that
  • the minimum combined credit hours of those four courses is 12

Foreign Language Requirement

All IS majors must attain six term proficiency (three years) in a language other than English, during their course of study. For more information on  IS Major and Minor Language Requirement click here.

Please note:  

  • This is not a credit bearing requirement for the IS major or minor. Any course work taken to satisfy the language requirement will be in addition to the 33 minimum credit hours required for the IS major and the 18 minimum credit hours requirement for the IS minor.
  • Foreign Languages that are not offered at the U-M may not be used to satisfy the IS language requirement.
  • Students entering the U-M  with previous language training will be required to take a placement exam prior to/during orientation in order to ascertain the appropriate level at which to continue language study at U-M. Placement exams normally determines up to 4 terms of language study.
  • LSA students are required to achieve a four term language proficiency in a language other than English. If a student successfully tests out of 4 terms of language and has already acquired advanced proficiency the student’s language skills must be certified by a U-M language instructor before the PICS six term language requirement can be waived.  PICS has a language certification form that may waive the six term language requirement if the student can confirm by a U-M language instructor that they have six term proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing at third year college level in their native language. If a U-M language instructor agrees to assess your language (be advised that language instructors are not obligated to complete this form and some departments will not do it due to high pressure) be prepared to present the following: program descriptions, course syllabi, instructional materials, official transcripts, instructors' letters, and other supporting documents or materials. Questions regarding the language certification form should be directed to a PICS advisor.
  • Students that wish to satisfy their language requirement through studying abroad should discuss this with a PICS advisor. Overseas study courses are typically used for the IS major or minor elective and regional requirements. Students studying abroad on a non U-M sponsored program must complete and submit a pre-evaluation (TCE) form to the U-M Undergraduate Admissions Office.  Once the credits have been approved by the admissions office evaluators, a student may submit his/her abroad course descriptions to a PICS advisor to determine any courses that can fulfill the major/minor requirements.


Regional Course Requirements

IS Majors will also be required to complete at least one course focusing on a world region/country related to the foreign language of choice. This course cannot be double counted with a sub-plan course.

Minimum credit hours: 3

What counts as a regional course?

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

Language: Japanese    Country: Japan

Course: HISTART 292 Introduction to Japanese Art and Culture


Research Methods Requirement

At least one quantitative research methods course is required.
Select one quantitative research methods course from the following list.

Minimum credit hours: 3

ECON 309: Experimental Economics    

ECON 401: Intermediate Microeconomic 

ECON 405: Intro to Statistics is now ECON 451: Intermediate Intro to Statistics and Econometrics I

POLSCI 391: Intro to Modeling Political Processes

POLSCI 490: Game Theory & Formal Models

POLSCI 499: Methods of Political Analysis is now POLSCI 300: Quantitative Methods of Empirical Analysis. (Effective: Winter 2016)      

SOC 210: Elementary Statistics

SOC 310: Intro to Research Methods                                     

STATS 250: Intro to Statistics & Data Analysis   



The electives are designed to allow students to further personalize their major. Students will elect three advanced courses which will be expected to build upon the the theme of their sub-plans. The selected courses should thus contribute to the coherence of the student’s overall concentration. Students may select additional sub-plan, regional, or relevant study abroad courses, however there is no preapproved list of electives. Because there is no preapproved list, students must seek and obtain the approval of elective courses--on a course-by-course basis--from a PICS advisor. It is strongly advised that this approval be obtained before taking the class.

Minimum credit hours: 9

Minimum Grade Requirement

Students shall receive no grade lower than C- in any of the required courses listed above