Bachelor of Arts in International Relations

Few universities have separate International Relations departments. As the process of globalization becomes more pervasive, preparation in this area is becoming more pertinent every year.

International Relations is becoming increasingly relevant as the world grows more and more interconnected through trade and commerce, migration, the internet and through social media, and concerns about pressing global environmental problems. A globalized world calls for academics and professionals trained to comprehend these complex interactions - promoting understanding and crafting policy and business solutions to meet the challenges of today and the future. International Relations offers a comprehensive and adaptable toolkit particularly well suited to employment in a rapidly changing world.

View the SF State Bulletin B.A. in IR section for further details.

Flags of the world on flag poles

Courses for the Bachelor of Arts in International Relations have three objectives:

  1. To impart knowledge of basic concepts, theories and methods in international relations.
  2. To develop in each student at least one area of special individual competence in international relations.
  3. To train students in research, writing, analytical, and presentation/communication skills.

While integrating liberal arts educational goals, the program also seeks to develop marketable skills appropriate to the field. Utilizing the extensive course offerings in IR and other departments, students are encouraged to develop specializations within geographical, functional (e.g., international political economy), problem-oriented (e.g., arms control), theoretical and methodological, and other categories. The emphasis on elective courses of study requires students to consult with an advisor every semester.

International Relations (IR) is an interdisciplinary major focusing on the changing political, economic, and cultural relations within a globalized system. The program explores how global, regional, and domestic factors influence relations between actors on the world stage. Students are prepared for future careers, civic engagement, and life-long learning with strong analytical, writing, research, and presentation skills steeped in theory, history, and practice. 

Our faculty offers courses in theory and regional/thematic issue-areas that meet the diverse needs and preferences of students. Examples of our student best practices include the development of individual and group projects in close consultation with faculty. Outcomes of such training in research and presentation skills are evident not only in classes, including the culminating senior thesis experience (I R 550), but also in student participation in IR conferences at both regional and national levels. Our students have the opportunity to publish their original research papers in the Department’s International Relations Journal.

Core: 25 Units

  • I R 104: Introduction to World Affairs (3 Units)
  • I R 308: Fundamentals of International Relations: Theories, Issues, and Perspectives (4 Units)
  • I R 309GW: International Relations Analysis and Application-GWAR (4 Units)
  • I R 310: U.S. Foreign Policy (4 Units)
  • I R 312: Introduction to International Political Economy (4 Units)
  • I R 550: Proseminar in Foreign Policy Analysis (6 Units) (Culminating Experience)

Grading Basis

International Relations majors must take the core courses for a letter grade.

Electives: 18 Units

Students are required to complete 18 elective units related to international relations. At least twelve units of coursework must be upper-division I R courses (300-level or above) or be cross-listed with I R. Six additional units may be taken outside of the department upon the approval of a major advisor. Lower-division language courses taken in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and 200-level IR courses can be used for these six units; otherwise, upper-division courses are required.

Twelve units of complementary studies are required of all candidates for the B.A. degree in International Relations. These units must come from courses bearing a prefix other than IR and that are not cross-listed with International Relations. They can be lower or upper division courses. Students can also satisfy this requirement by completing a minor, a second major or through an approved study-abroad program.

Complementary studies courses should have a direct bearing on the study of politics, or deepen and enrich the study of politics. Such courses are typically found in departments like Modern Languages and Literatures, Political Science, Urban Studies and Planning, or Philosophy, and in the College of Ethnic Studies.

Six of the twelve Complementary Studies units may count toward the major as elective units, if approved in advance by an IR advisor. Students must consult with an advisor in the department to ensure that their choices fulfill the department’s requirements.

In addition to fulfilling elective requirements for the International Relations major and minor, many electives offered through the IR department satisfy upper-division General Education and SF State Studies requirements.

Electives in IR
Course ID Title Units GE SF State Studies Cross-listed with
I R 305 Hi-Tech and Foreign Policy 4      
I R 306* U.S.-Central American Relations 4   GP, SJ  
I R 314 Post Modernism in International Relations 4      
I R 315 Introduction to Global Peace Studies 3 UD-C ES, GP, SJ GPS 315, PHIL 315
I R 321* Development and Foreign Policy: Africa 4     PLSI 321
I R 322* Latin American Policy Analysis 4 UD-D GP, SJ PLSI 322
I R 323* The Persian Gulf in International Relations 4      
I R 324* Middle East and North Africa in International Relations 4 UD-D ES, GP  
I R 325* Chinese Foreign Policy 4     PLSI 325
I R 326 South and Southeast Asia Foreign Relations 4   GP  
I R 327* Europe: Forming a More Perfect Union 4     PLSI 327
I R 328* Domestic and Foreign Policy: Post-Communist Regions 4     PLSI 328
I R 329* U.S.-Japan Politics 4     PLSI 329
I R 330 World Law 4      
I R 331 Global Environmental Crisis 4   ES, GP, SJ ENVS 331
I R 332 International Criminal Law 4     C J 505
I R 334 International Organizations: New World Order 4      
I R 335* Muslim Societies in Transnational Perspective 4 UD-D AERM, GP  
I R 336* Politics of Globalization 4 UD-D GP  
I R 337* Introduction to European Union 4      
I R 341 Comparative Criminal Justice 4     C J 340
I R 342* Strategy and War 4     PLSI 342
I R 346 Recent European History 3     HIST 346
I R 360 Intelligence and Intelligence Agencies 4      
I R 361 Terrorism and Covert Political Warfare 4     C J 461
I R 362* Domestic & Transnational Sources of US Foreign Policy 4     PLSI 362
I R 372 Critical Political Theory 4     PLSI 372, HUM 372
I R 404 Politics of China 4 UD-D GP PLSI 404
I R 407* Politics of Russia 4 UD-D GP PLSI 407
I R 409* Russia and World Order 4     PLSI 409
I R 411 East Asian Politics 4 UD-D GP PLSI 411
I R 412 South Asian Politics 4   GP PLSI 412
I R 413 Media Chinese 3   GP CHIN 411, JOUR 411
I R 416 Ethnicity and Nationalism 4 UD-D GP PLSI 416
I R 417 Gender, Equality, and Politics: A Comparative Perspective 4     PLSI 417
I R 424 Social Movements 4     PLSI 424, SOC 424
I R 428* International Political Economy of Food and Hunger 4     GEOG 428
I R 430 Israeli Democracy: Politics, Institutions, and Society 3 UD-D GP JS 430, PLSI 430
I R 432 Model United Nations 4      
I R 433 Model Arab League 4     MEIS 433
I R 435 Politics of Global Finance and Crisis 4     PLSI 435, FIN 435
I R 436 Human Rights in Global Perspective 3 UD-C GP, SJ PHIL 435
I R 445 Geopolitics and Globalization 3 UD-D   GEOG 445
I R 446 The Multinational Corporation in World Affairs 4      
I R 450 International Labor 3     LABR 550
I R 452* International Media Politics 4   SJ JOUR 452
I R 453* Women and Media in International Relations 4      
I R 459 Refugees in Global Perspective 4   AERM, GP, UC-C PLSI 4459
I R 460* Rising Powers 4      
I R 520 Globalization and Development 4      
I R 530 The Arab-Israeli Conflict 3 UD-D GP JS 560
I R 540 The Rich and the Poor Nations 4      
I R 544 Women in the World 4 UD-D GP, SJ PLSI 544
I R 601 Lectures on Contemporary Global Issues 1      
I R 604 Analysis of Global Issues 4      
I R 635 Economics of Globalization 3     ECON 635
I R 640 Field Study in International Relations 1-5      
I R 685 Projects in the Teaching of I R 1-4      
I R 699 Independent Study 1-4      

Note: Due to staffing, the department is not able to offer all elective courses on a regular basis. The course IDs marked with an asterisk are those the department can currently offer on a regular basis—if not every academic year. This does not include cross-listed courses housed in and staffed by other departments.

Updated May 2019

Employment possibilities for graduates in international relations exist in business, government, electronic and print journalism, teaching and private international service (e.g., U.N. Association, Red Cross, etc.). Students completing a degree find it excellent preparation for entry into highly competitive programs of advanced study or work abroad in areas of special interest or knowledge.

Some of the most likely career areas are:

  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Foreign Service officer
  • Import/export business
  • Commerce Department
  • International finance and banking
  • Corporate regulatory affairs
  • Peace Corps administration
  • Intercultural communication
  • Foreign correspondent
  • International counseling
  • United Nations staff
  • International airlines
  • Intelligence officer
  • International marketing
  • Social studies teacher
  • International lawyer
  • Policy analyst
  • Research on global issues

Explore our Alumni section to find out where an IR degree might take you!