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International Studies Program

international festival day - students with international flags

 

International Studies will provide you with a unique and marketable global perspective, and one that promotes an understanding of the different cultures, economies, and governments around the world.  WCU offers a B.A. degree in International Studies, and students are required to take a total of 30 hours to fulfill the program's requirements.

All International Studies majors must choose a concentration, or focus, for their studies, and the choices are listed below:

  • Peace, Violence, and Security

This concentration provides opportunities for students to explore the historical, theoretical, institutional, and cultural factors shaping the prospects for war, conflicts, and peace. Tensions between the pursuit of security and the goal of peace figure prominently. Courses explore these factors and solutions as they play out in the relationships between the great powers.
Students in this concentration will be prepared for careers in governmental agencies such as the Department of Defense, State Department, and Homeland Security. They may also pursue careers with international organizations that promote peaceful resolution to disputes such as the United Nations Development Program, the United States Institute of Peace, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development etc.

  • Global Governance, Human Rights, and Law

This concentration allows students to pursue the various ways in which the world community has sought to handle the emergence of global governance problems, such as climate change, ethnic conflict, diplomacy, human rights, and political justice. A multitude of international organizations have been constructed over the last century to resolve these issues. We consider the mechanics of how these institutions work, along with arguments for the place of human dignity and equality around the globe.
Students in this concentration will be prepared to join international organizations such as the United Nations, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, as well as prepare for a career in international law. They may also pursue careers within the U.S. government such as the State Department.

  • Global Poverty and Economic Development

This concentration focuses on the structures and processes of the global economy and the ways in which economic systems and behavior affect both the rich and poor around the world. It explores the political, economic, and social issues that both domestic and international communities face when seeking to address poverty and development. Broad themes across the concentration include the relationships between poverty and inequality, political histories, democratization, environmental sustainability, urbanization, and demographic changes. The concentration pulls from eight different disciplines to form a nuanced view of the global economy.
Students in this concentration will be prepared for careers with domestic and international organizations such as, Student Action with Farmworkers, Oxfam, the Hunger Project, United Nations Development Program, and the U.S. State Department, among many others.

  • Religions, Cultures, and Civilizations

This concentration engages students with the arts, folklore, religious beliefs and practices, and literature from cultures around the world, with an emphasis on the sharing of cultures across regions through migration, colonialism, diasporas, and liberation movements. The concentration draws on anthropology, literary analysis, and philosophy to provide a vocabulary for the study of indigenous cultures, cultural conflicts, and conflict transformations.
Students in this concentration will be prepared for careers with organizations focusing on global awareness, pluralism, and conflict resolution, such as Amnesty International, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the U.S. State Department, and various other international organizations.

  • Regional Concentration (Africa/Middle East, Asia, Europe, or Americas)

Africa/Middle East
This concentration provides students with a historical understanding of the economic, social, and political issues of Africa, the Middle East, and their diasporas. Students particularly interested in anthropology, history, government, and economics of this region should consider this concentration.

Asia
This concentration provides students with a historical understanding of the economic, social, and political issues of the Pacific, India, China, and mainland Asia. Students particularly interested in anthropology, history, art history, government, and religious studies should consider this concentration.

Europe
This concentration provides students with a historical understanding of the economic, social, and political issues of Europe. Students particularly interested in anthropology, history, government, and economics of this region should consider this concentration.

Americas
This concentration provides students with a historical understanding of the economic, social, and political issues of North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean. Students particularly interested in anthropology, history, government, and economics of this region should consider this concentration.

Students in each of these concentrations will be prepared for careers in governmental agencies such as the Department of Defense, State Department, and Homeland Security, particularly focusing on these geographic areas. They may also pursue careers with organizations that work on promoting economic and political development in each selected area of concentration such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Labour Organization, World Food Programme etc.

Overall, the International Studies B.A. degree contains five components - introduction and capstone classes, language courses, concentration courses, an elective, and an engaged experience (study abroad, internship, travel course, Model United Nations course, etc.). 

Additionally, all International Studies majors are required to have a second major. This means that while you're learning about international politics, world cultures, languages and global citizenship from faculty with international expertise, you also will be studying business, communication, history, political science, anthropology or any other discipline offered at WCU. The result will be a unique program of study that better prepares you for a variety of career fields with a global perspective.

For more detailed information on the major's requirements, please click on this link.

WCU also offers an international studies minor, which requires 18 credit hours.

For more detailed information on the minor's requirements, please click on this link.

Thanks to donations from friends of the program, International Studies is now able to award up to three individual $500 grants for International Studies majors who plan to study abroad for a semester.  Applications for this award are competitive. To apply, students must 1) be a declared International Studies major, 2) must have completed 45 hours of undergraduate coursework, 3) must be registered for study abroad in the next semester, and 4) must hold at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

If you meet the qualifications, and you are interested in applying for this award, click here to apply by 5:00 pm on April 1, 2019.

International Studies FAQs

what career paths are available to me upon graduation?

The possibilities are endless!  Our International Studies graduates have gone on to have amazing careers in a variety of fields, including the U.S. government, international business, global public health, education, and non-profit organizations.  Our graduates are also thriving in a variety of graduate programs, including law school, and master's programs in global affairs and/or foreign languages.  Please click on this link for more information on potential careers.  The attached document also offers you some guidance regarding which second major you might choose, depending upon the career field in which you're interested.

Who will serve as my International studies advisor?

The International Studies (INST) program is housed in the Political Science and Public Affairs Department.  Dr. Ingrid Bego serves as the director of the program, but she is aided by an advisory board of faculty members with international interests that also help to govern the major.  Your International Studies advisor will either be Dr. Bego or a member of the advisory board, all of whom serve as wonderful advisors/mentors for our students!  You'll find a list of all all current advisory board members on the right side of the page.

which language classes should I take?

The INST major requires that students take 231 and 232 in a particular language, and then one 300 level class in that same language OR an introductory 101 class in a different language.  In terms of language choice -- WCU's Department of World Languages offers currently courses in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, and Cherokee.  Additionally, through UNC Online (search for courses, and then foreign languages), students also have access to instruction in a variety of languages not taught at WCU.  Students can also satisfy the language requirement by studying at other universities, either in North Carolina, the US, or abroad.

Where can I study Abroad?

The world is literally full of options for studying abroad.  See the International Programs and Services website for more information.

Courses taken at a foreign university may be applied to the International Studies major, when approved by the Director.  Students can choose a shorter study abroad experience (typically through a faculty-led trip over the summer or university holidays) or a more immersive experience (typically in the form of a semester of study at a foreign university).


For students who choose to study abroad for a semester, the International Studies Program may offer some financial support to help off-set costs.  Interested students can apply for a $500 Global Catamount Award (see elsewhere on this webpage for more details).

What about internships?

Internships are a smart way for students to gain work experience and try out different career paths.  As an International Studies major, you can earn three hours of class credit toward an internship.  Students are encouraged to research and find internationally-related internship opportunities on their own (credit for those internships is contingent upon the approval of the International Studies Director).  We also have many of our International Studies majors engage in internships for credit on campus, through the International Programs and Services office, which offers you a way to see if you're interested in a career in international education.  We also have students who have interned with internationally-oriented local non-profits, like Folkmoot, and this kind of administrative experience looks fantastic on any resume.  Please stop by Dr. Bego's office (Stillwell 346) if you are interested in one of these internship opportunities.

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