International Relations Major

The International Relations major is a multi-disciplinary curriculum in which students take courses in a variety of areas, including political science, economics, security, history, sociology and ecology.


International Relations is an exciting interdisciplinary major dealing with today's global problems and potential solutions. Are you concerned about tensions, distrust and conflict among nations? Are you interested in the mechanisms of diplomacy, and how nations might better cooperate in reducing global drug and human trafficking? Do your interests lie in international trade, or in learning how to combat human rights violations within oppressive regimes?

The discipline of International Relations (IR) involves exploration of differences among cultures and nations, as a means of finding commonalities for mutually constructive cultural and economic interactions. The International Relations Program is an interdisciplinary major encompassing specializations or tracks. Students majoring in IR must demonstrate a level of competence in a contemporary foreign language. By the time students graduate, they develop expertise in their chosen region of the globe.

Our program supports the UC Davis Model UN, the student-run International Affairs Journal, and participation in the Student Conference on U.S. Affairs held annually at West Point.

  • Career Paths
  • What can you do with an International Relations major? Plenty. The International Relations major gives students an excellent qualifying foundation for positions in state and federal government agencies, international or non-governmental relationship-building and peacekeeping organizations, and companies with interests in international trade or finance. Study in international relations can set you on a path toward a career in management, labor relations, international business and finance, marketing, journalism, teaching, diplomacy, public policy, international law, government services, academic research and teaching, and numerous other fields of endeavor. The language proficiency component of the major enhances career marketability of students for positions that require competency in the language and culture of other countries.

  • Student Learning Objectives
  • The International Relations curriculum at UC Davis teaches undergraduate students how to:

    • explain the causes and consequences of key phenomena in international relations;
    • understand the strengths and weaknesses of different disciplinary approaches to the study of international relations;
    • communicate in a modern foreign language of major significance in international affairs;
    • rigorously analyze and evaluate competing theories of international relations.
  • Tracks and Focus Areas
  • The curriculum for the major in International Relations consists of introductory courses in Political Science, Economics, Statistics and History. The major requires fluency in English and a working knowledge (approximately 24 to 30 units of course credits or equivalent fluency) of one other modern language. In combination with a geographical area emphasis, each student chooses one of four topical tracks:

    • World Trade and Development
    • Peace and Security
    • Global Environment, Health and Natural Resources
    • Peoples and Nationalities

    The five geographic focus regions among which students may choose are:

    • Africa and the Middle East
    • East and South Asia
    • Latin America
    • Russia and East/Central Europe
    • Western Europe

  • Exceptional Internships
  • The UC Davis Study Abroad program is particularly relevant for international Relations majors. Enrollees may study for a quarter or summer abroad, or may participate in internships or seminars overseas. Through Study Abroad, participating students gain insights into the life and culture of other countries.

    The UC Davis Internship and Career Center assists students in obtaining legislative, legal and business internships. In addition, the University of California Washington Center and the University of California Center, Sacramento arrange internships and conduct full-credit academic program in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, respectively, with a full range of opportunities for International Relations majors.