Global and International Studies Major

Global and international studies majors at Western Michigan University can pursue successful careers in international business, academics, government, publishing, the arts, advocacy, politics, research and more. For more information, please see our program in the 2023-24 academic catalog.

Global and International Studies Major (39 hours)

If you started your college career prior to 2016, you may select the catalog requirements below the catalog requirements prior to 2016. See your advisor for more information.

Program requirements

  1. Minimum 39 hours, at least 23 hours of which must be in course work at the 3000-level or above
  2. Three courses chosen from a set of eight core courses, Credits: 15-18 hours
  3. Selection of a focus field and a minimum of four courses in that focus field, Credits: 12-16 hours
  4. Completion of two courses in a world language beyond the 2010 level, Credits: 6-8 hours
    Note: Courses taught in English cannot be used to satisfy this requirement. Exceptions may be made for international students, please consult our academic advisor.
  5. At least one area studies course on a region in which the selected world language is spoken, Credits: 3 hours
  6. Study abroad, service learning or internship cognate, Credits: 3-4 hours
  7. Must include course selections from at least four different departments or course prefixes
  8. No more than 16 credit hours of transfer credit may be applied toward the major

No minor is required for students choosing the major, although a language or area studies minor is strongly recommended. Credits for the world language cognate requirement can also be applied toward a declared minor or major in a language.

Global and international studies advising

Required core courses (15-18 hours)

  • GIST 2000 – Introduction to Global and International Studies, Credits: 3 hours
  • GIST 4900 – Senior Capstone Seminar in Global and International Studies, Credits: 3 hours
    Note: The Senior Capstone Seminar in Global and International Studies (GIST 4900) will also be used to satisfy the University’s baccalaureate-level writing requirement.

Three courses chosen from:

  • ANTH 2400 – Principles of Cultural Anthropology, Credits: 3 hours
  • ECON 2020 – Principles of Macroeconomics, Credits: 3 hours
  • ENVS 3000 – Introduction to Sustainability, Credits: 3 hours
  • GEOG 2050 – Human Geography, Credits: 3 hours
  • HIST 3030 – World History since 1500, Credits: 3 hours
  • PSCI 2400 – Comparative Politics, Credits: 3 hours
  • REL 2000 – Thinking About Religion, Credits: 4 hours
  • SOC 3040 – Nonwestern World, Credits: 4 hours

Focus field (12-16 hours)

Students will take 12 to 16 credit hours in a single focus field. Course options may be found in the catalog. You are encouraged to discuss your selection of courses with your advisor.

Note: GIST 3500 – Topics in Global and International Studies, Credits: 3 hours, is recommended for all majors. The topic of this course varies and may serve as one required course within the chosen focus field with advisor approval.

Identities and cultures in a globalized world

Explores issues of race, religion, nationality, ethnicity and gender. Considers the role identities play in shaping national and international ideas, actions, conflicts and policies.

States, security, and transnational governance

Explores the ways that the international states system, international non-governmental organizations, and other transnational organizations address the intersection between local and global issues.

Inequality and social responsibility

Explores the origins and impact of economic and social disparities and the influences of race, gender and socioeconomic class on resource distributions. It seeks to understand the legal and ethical responses to these social differences, and the challenges it presents for peoples and governments.

Global health and environment

Focuses on the linkages between health and the environment and studies the challenges, opportunities and responsibility of sustaining healthy bodies, communities and environments.

Migration and population dynamics

Examines the movements of people and explores the economic, social, cultural, ethical, security, and policy ramifications of this mobility.

Global communication, expression and information systems

Studies the forms of expression and production and circulation of ideas, images and information from comparative and global perspectives. It explores the role of technology, communication modes and the arts in defining global issues.

Self-designed focus field

Offers students the option of arranging a set of courses to develop a thematic focus field. Students must petition the global and international studies program for approval of a self-designed focus field.

Study Abroad, Service Learning or Internship Cognate (3-4 hours)

Students must select an approved experiential learning opportunity, which may include an internship with a global focus or a study abroad program. The advisor may approve an appropriate substitute.

World Language Cognate and Area Studies Requirement (9-12 hours)

The program requires at least two courses beyond the 2010 level in a single language other than the student’s native language and appropriate to the chosen focus field. If WMU does not offer classes beyond the 2010 level in your chosen language, the coursework requirement will be waived if you demonstrate intermediate proficiency in your chosen language. Students whose native language is not English should consult the program advisor on fulfillment of the language requirement. The program also requires one area studies course in the region in which the student’s chosen language is spoken. A study abroad program in a region corresponding to the student’s language choice can be used to satisfy this requirement. A completed minor or major in a world language will satisfy the language and area studies cognate.

WMU offers the following languages: