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International Studies Major

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The international studies major provides a multidisciplinary approach to the study of international affairs with an emphasis on foreign language proficiency. You will learn how to design policies and strategies to manage international challenges. 





Total Credit Hours: 120

International Studies Courses (36 hours)

Core Degree Requirements (21 hours)

General Education (45 hours)

Electives (36 hours)

What You'll Study

You will take 120 credit hours for a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, including Virginia Tech's Pathways.

Our program includes courses such as: 

  • Global Development
  • International Communication
  • Nations and Nationalities
  • Global Security 
  • World Politics 
  • The Global Economy and World Politics

The international studies major focuses on international interactions and offers a comparative perspective on the contemporary global system with an emphasis on foreign language proficiency. Select from nine languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, and Spanish, to fulfill this requirement. 

Curious how the degree requirements will fit into your experience at Virginia Tech? See the roadmaps below for a sample schedule of courses each year. Your academic advisor will help you create a personalized version based on your goals and other areas of interest. The individualized plan will also include your AP, IB, dual enrollment, or transfer credit.

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What is a Major in International Studies?

An international studies degree draws from subjects like history, politics, religion, geography, economics, as well as foreign languages. This gives you a comprehensive understanding of diverse nations, cultures, and the challenges they face. You'll become proficient in at least one foreign language.

Why Learn International Studies Here?

We offer broad training in the liberal arts, emphasizing the study of foreign languages. You will develop specialized skills to prepare for roles in government, business, defense, international development, and non-governmental organizations. There are many opportunities for further education outside of the classroom available to students, such as study abroad and internships.

Beyond the Classroom

Although studying abroad isn't required, it can often be a pivotal experience for you. Living in a different country is the best way to understand the differences and similarities between cultures. It allows you to develop a personal expertise in a specific national or regional context.


Internships and cooperative education programs give you an opportunity to receive academic credit for working in a professional setting. Our students complete internships with the U.S. government, international organizations, and national, state, or local administrative agencies. Talk to an advisor who can help you find and secure a meaningful internship opportunity.



Our faculty members are productive authors, scholars, and award-winning teachers who are always eager to mentor students on research projects in their field of interest. We have experts on Japan, the European Union, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, the United Kingdom, and other nations, as well as specialists in topics like international security, citizenship, and human rights. If you'd like some guidance on an undergraduate research project, just ask!



We work with many students in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and ROTC, as well as veterans and students waiting to begin a government training program. Our major provides training to prepare you for a career with the U.S. Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, or various intelligence agencies of the U.S. government.


The Department of State’s Diplomacy Lab program is a partnership with Virginia Tech to conduct research related to foreign policy. You will have the opportunity to research topics such as climate change, democracy and human rights, global health, and energy security. This program allows you to explore real-world challenges and work alongside faculty members who are authorities in their fields. 


Work closely with a faculty mentor to create and pursue your own project or join a professor's project.  The Diplomacy Lab program also offers several opportunities for students to pursue individual or collaborative research projects. 


What Our Students Are Saying

Careers and Further Study

What do I do with a major in international studies?

The program offers a broad liberal arts education, meaning you'll gain critical thinking and writing skills that apply in any field. Our alumni include vice-presidents of major banks, managers in multinational corporations, foreign service officers, civil servants in the Pentagon and United States intelligence agencies, and Peace Corps volunteers. Graduates of this program have also been admitted to some of the most prestigious law and graduate schools in the country. Some common careers of our graduates include:

  • Military officer
  • Consultant 
  • Political organizer
  • Teacher/Professor 
  • Journalist
  • Attorney
  • Foreign aid administrator
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Foreign correspondent
  • Federal agency official
  • Foreign service officer
  • International business analyst
  • Public policy analyst
  • Politician
  • Nonprofit employee
  • Foreign affairs specialist
  • Human rights officer