Majoring in International Studies

With a Concentration in International Economics (ISIE)

Students receive a specialized education in economics within the framework of a liberal arts, international studies major. The following information is provided as a guide, but please remember that curricular requirements often change. Your own course catalog is the best source of information about requirements that affect you.

The concentration advisor is Dr. Jonathan Wight. Click here for his contact information.

Requirements for the International Studies Major:  13 units overall

The International Studies major consists of A) general courses required of all majors, and B) courses required within specialized concentrations. 

Students are expected to fulfill all course prerequisites; prerequisites do not count towards the major unless otherwise noted.

A. General requirements of all majors: 5 units

Click here for more information about general IS requirements.


B. Concentration in International Economics (ISIE): 8 units

Courses must be taken from at least three different departments, with no more than four units from a single department.

i) Economics courses required for this concentration:*

ii) Electives:  Choose five units from the approved list of electives or see below for other courses that may qualify (e.g., courses you take abroad).  

Other Courses That May Qualify as Electives:  New  relevant courses are often created on campus and there are courses offered abroad that do not have an exact equivalent here on campus.  If there is a course you wish to count as an elective which is not currently listed in the catalog, please see me. Because the International Studies field is so broad as to be almost meaningless, each IS concentration attempts to create depth through narrowing the focus of attention in electives.  The ISIE concentration attempts to create focus by specializing the electives in modern social science courses.  There are three conditions needed for approving a new elective in the International Economics track: 

    (1) the course must be international in scope; 

    (2) the course must cover the modern time period (19th, 20th, and 21st centuries); and 

    (3) the course must be taught from a social science perspective (most history courses would fall into this category). 

Please make SURE, when you are getting courses pre-approved for study abroad, that you go to the department chair of the appropriate SOCIAL SCIENCE department.  For example, if you take a course in Spain on "Modern Spanish Culture and Society," AND if this course is taught there by a social scientist, AND if you want this course to count for ISIE elective credit, then you should get approval for this course to show up on your UR transcript as a SOCIOLOGY course (see the Chair of Sociology).  By contrast, if a course on Spanish culture is offered through a Foreign Language Department, this counts as a Spanish Department course, not a course elective for ISIE. If you have questions, please call me.


Who Should Major in International Economics?

This concentration is designed for students interested in careers in international business, government, and non-profit organizations, or as preparation for graduate school or law school.

While this major is similar in some ways to the International Business program within the Robins School of Business, students in ISIE will focus their study within the context of history, culture, political systems, and languages of other countries, rather than mainly with business disciplines such as accounting, finance, and marketing.  (Note: international business courses can count for ISIE electives (see the approved list of electives); students need to fulfill business prerequisites.)

Whether you choose International Economics or International Business as your concentration there is no "right" or "wrong" approach: international businesses need employees with a wide range of backgrounds and skills. If you plan on eventually getting your M.B.A., many students find it preferable to first acquire a strong liberal arts undergraduate preparation. Indeed, knowing how to write, think, and articulate are highly valued skills in any organization. On the other hand, business students may have a leg-up on that first after-college job. In summary, each approach works. Do what interests you, but do it well. Think it through. Discuss it with your parents and other role models. By all means feel free to discuss it with me (call Jonathan Wight, 8570 to set up an appointment).

Strengths and Weaknesses of the IS major

The International Studies major has wonderful strengths, such as its diversity, its multi-disciplinary approach, the experience abroad component, and its senior seminar to pull together what you have learned. While the IS major has great breadth, by necessity it has less depth than you would find in a traditional major. This is a natural consequence of the interdisciplinary nature of the major, and the fact that only a certain number of hours can be required of any major at UR.

Depth is needed to prepare you for graduate school and as a help in landing a job (since employers may not "understand" what an IS major does).  Depth is also necessary to help you develop advanced skills of critical thinking. Thus, you are strongly urged to complement your IS major with a double major in a standard discipline.

It is probably not advisable to double major in a second "area" studies program --Leadership, American Studies -- because these also tend to be broad rather than deep. Think about hedging your bets and diversifying your portfolio!  Develop a good match of depth and breadth in your academic experience.

Tip: Consider a Minor in Economics

The issue of depth is particularly important to ISIE majors. This is because employers and graduate schools -- when they see "International Economics" on your transcript -- will probably assume you know more economics than you do!  It is relatively easy to get an Econ minor along with your ISIE degree.  To do so, plan on taking:

Students who fulfill the ISIE requirements and complete these two courses will also earn a Minor in Economics. 

Additionally, all ISIE students are encouraged to take a basic course in Statistics (BUS 202), which provides a good foundation for future work experience and for graduate study.

Double-Majoring in Economics

Why not double-major in economics? The combination of ISIE and Economics in the liberal arts works well, providing you the depth of a solid economics major with the breadth and experience of an international studies major. The additional coursework does not add up to that many more units. You will be well prepared, and can "hold your own" in any crowd or job interview. Be ambitious for yourself, and do not take another path just because it appears "easier." (Think more about your life and career, and less about your short-term GPA. Three years out of college, who will remember that? But your college education will be with you your whole life!)

As always, if you have questions about this, please call (x8570).