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International Relations Program at Penn

International Relations is not only the most fascinating spectator sport there is... It is also of critical importance to our lives, and the lives of our children. As exciting as a Super Bowl or NBA Finals may be, it doesn't really matter who wins. Who wins in Kosovo or the Persian Gulf, and who comes to power in Moscow, Beijing, or for that matter Washington, matters tremendously.

-- Professor Walter McDougall, Director, International Relations Program

Few majors are as rewarding or flexible as International Relations. Every aspect of commercial and public life is affected by international events. Employers want employees who understand the world. The International Relations Program at Penn is consistently ranked in the top five programs nationally and is widely respected for its selectivity and commitment to excellence. Our interdisciplinary training across history, politics, economics, and regions is highly valued by the commercial and public sectors for its rigorous but practical content and adaptable skills. Our thesis requirement proves your research and analytical skills. An exceptional part of the major's experience is our busy schedule of visiting lectures, recruiting events, instructional simulations, annual trips to New York and D.C., and other extracurricular events. We also host the national honors society (Sigma Iota Rho) for international relations and publish the national peer-reviewed Journal of International Relations. Our graduates easily find jobs at the highest levels in every possible sector from business consulting to foreign service and go on to further training at the best professional and graduate schools.

The International Relations major is a multi-disciplinary course of study on the ways in which people, private groups, and sovereign governments interact with each other on the international stage. States are inevitably the main focus of analysis. However, the emergence of non-state actors--international organizations, multinational corporations, and private groups ranging from religious and peace groups to terrorist organizations--is an important feature of international affairs in our time. Thus, an understanding of the broader political environment as defined by culture, demography, geography, and technology is essential to a sophisticated understanding of international affairs.

Our interdisciplinary approach to the study of international affairs reflects this reality. We encourage a hardheaded and nuanced study of the problem of relations across international boundaries of all kinds--from the traditional political boundaries to the recently salient boundaries of culture and religion.

Our plan for achieving this goal is twofold: First, to insist that our majors receive a firm grounding in the approach to knowledge used in the disciplines of political science, history, and economics; and second, to provide them maximum flexibility, particularly in their advanced course work and thesis, to specialize in disciplines and areas of the world of their own choosing.

This curriculum, if assiduously pursued, offers a well-rounded liberal arts education valuable in all walks of life. However, it is also designed to prepare our students for a broad array of careers. Our students have gone on to distinguished careers in business, law, government, military service, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and academia.

Make an appointment with a specialist International Relations Program advisor soon - an advising session will help you efficiently plan your coursework and is a prerequisite to declaring the major.

To make an appointment, telephone the Program: 215.898.0452