Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology

CMU's Home for Political Science and International Relations

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Bachelor of Science in International Relations and Political Science (BS IRPS)

The Bachelor of Science in International Relations and Political Science (IRPS) is for students who want to learn how to think systematically and develop foundational knowledge about international and domestic politics. It is an interdisciplinary major that is rooted firmly in political science and draws on strengths and insights from decision science, economics, history, modern languages, and other fields. BS IRPS students wrestle with a wide range of issues including the future of democracy, the relationship between technology and politics, the drivers of war and peace, domestic politics across countries, and the formulation of effective foreign policies. IRPS graduates embark on a variety of careers in government, law, public policy, intelligence, national defense, consulting, international development, and more.

International Relations and Political Science is available as a primary major, additional major, and minor.*

*Prior to Summer 2023, the Bachelor of Science in International Relations and Political Science (IRPS) was the Bachelor of Science in International Relations and Politics (IRP).

The Bachelor of Science in International Relations and Political Science (IRPS) is for students who want to learn how to think systematically and develop foundational knowledge about international and domestic politics. It is an interdisciplinary major that is rooted firmly in political science and draws on strengths and insights from decision science, economics, history, modern languages, and other fields. BS IRPS students wrestle with a wide range of issues including the future of democracy, the relationship between technology and politics, the drivers of war and peace, domestic politics across countries, and the formulation of effective foreign policies. IRPS graduates embark on a variety of careers in government, law, public policy, intelligence, national defense, consulting, international development, and more.

Core disciplinary courses for the IRPS major establish a strong foundation in the study of political science and enable students to better understand the workings of political institutions, political behavior across countries, the decision-making of political leaders, the making national and international policy, and prevailing challenges to the international system, among other topics.

Core methodology courses train IRPS students in the social science tools and communications skills needed to analyze and write persuasively about international relations and politics. Students pursuing an IRPS major learn to use a wide range of analytic tools including statistics and data science, qualitative analysis, game theory, and behavioral decision-making models as they study politics and strategy. Students also learn how to effectively communicate their analyses to affect public policy.

A rich set of electives allows students to investigate issues in security and technology, grand strategy and national security, cybersecurity and international conflict, military strategy and doctrine, the politics of key regions of the world, international political economy and economic policy, representation and voting rights, climate change and development, repression and human rights, international law and diplomacy, political psychology and public opinion, and social change and revolution. 

Recognizing the importance of language and culture in understanding politics and international relations, students are required to complete the intermediate (200) level, or its equivalent, in a modern language other than English. Advanced-level study is strongly encouraged.

Open to all Carnegie Mellon undergraduates, the Carnegie Mellon University Washington Semester Program (CMU/WSP) allows students to study politics and public policy and intern in Washington, DC, for one semester. Courses taken through CMU/WSP count toward the policy seminar core requirement and electives for the IRPS major.

Double Counting: Students may double count a maximum of four courses with another major or minor.

Curriculum (141-147 units)- 2023 undergraduate catalog and beyond

Requirements for the 2022 undergraduate catalog and prior (pdf). 

Disciplinary Core Courses (complete all):

84-104 Decision Processes in American Political Institutions 9
84-110 Foundations of Political Economy
(may substitute 73-102 Principles of Microeconomics, 73-103 Principles of Macroeconomics, or 73-104 Principles of Microeconomics Accelerated)
9
84-226 International Relations 9
84-275 Comparative Politics 9
84-450

Policy Seminar
(may substitute 84-336 Implementing Public Policy: From Good Idea to Reality or 84-339 Seminar in Public Policy Research)

6-12

Methodology Core Courses (complete all):

84-250 Writing for Political Science and Policy 9
84-266 Research Design for Political Science 9
84-267 Data Science for Political Science
(may substitute 36-202 Methods of Statistics and Data Science)
9
84-369 Decision Science for International Relations 9
Language Requirement

Students are required to complete a course at the Intermediate II level or higher of a modern language other than English. Advanced level study is strongly encouraged. Students who successfully pass a language placement exam on campus, at the intermediate II level or higher, are required to take an advanced language course to satisfy the language requirement.

Electives

Students must complete 54 units (usually six courses) from the elective lists below. At least four courses (36 units) must be taken from the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology (84-xxx). Most courses listed below are 9-unit courses, but some are fewer. When students choose courses offered for fewer than 9 units, they must remember that a minimum of 54 units is still required and thus plan to take one or more additional courses to fill out that minimum number.  In other words, the key requirement is the number of units (54), not the number of courses.

CMIST Electives
84-120 Introduction to US Constitutional Law
84-200 Security War Game Simulation
84-252 Briefing in the Policy World
84-274 An Introduction to Technology and War
(formerly 84-374 Technology, Weapons, and International Conflict)
84-280 Popcorn and Politics: American Foreign Policy at the Movies
84-303 International Human Rights
84-304 In the News: Analysis of Current National Security Priorities
84-306 Latin American Politics
84-307 Economic and Political History of Contemporary China
84-309 American Political Divides and Great Debates
84-310 International Political Economy
84-312 Terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa
84-313 International Organizations and Law*
84-317 Defense Resourcing: From Strategy to Execution
84-318 Politics of Developing Nations
84-319 Civil-Military Relations
84-322 Nonviolent Conflict and Revolution
84-323 War and Peace in the Contemporary Middle East
84-324 The Future of Democracy
84-325 Contemporary American Foreign Policy
84-328 Military Strategy and Doctrine
84-329 Asian Strategies
84-332 Contemporary US Constitutional Law Issues*
84-334 The History and Practice of Economic Statecraft*
84-335 US China Relations*
84-336 Implementing Public Policy: From Good Idea To Reality*
84-338 Analysis of US Presidential Powers*
84-339 Seminar in Public Policy Research*
84-348 Advocacy, Policy and Practice*
84-351 Bias, Objectivity, and the Media's Role in Politics
84-352 Representation and Voting Rights
84-354 The American Experiment: Unravelling the US Electoral System
84-355 Democracy's Data: Analytics and Insights into American Elections
84-360 CMU/WSP Internship Seminar*
84-362 Diplomacy and Statecraft
84-363 Click. Hack. Rule: Understanding the Power & Peril of Cyber Conflict
84-365 The Politics of Fake News and Misinformation
84-367 The Politics of Antisemitism
84-370 Nuclear Security & Arms Control
84-372 Space and National Security
84-373 Emerging Technologies and International Law
84-380 US Grand Strategy
84-383 Cyber Policy as National Policy
84-386 The Privatization of Force
84-387 Remote Systems and the Cyber Domain in Conflict
84-388 Concepts of War and Cyber War
84-389 Terrorism and Insurgency
84-390 Social Media, Technology, and Conflict
84-393 Legislative Decision Making: US Congress
84-402 Judicial Politics and Behavior
84-405 The Future of Warfare
84-421 Advanced Topics in American Politics
84-440 Collaborative Research in Political Science

*Denotes courses taught in Washington, DC, through the Carnegie Mellon University Washington Semester Program (CMU/WSP).

Additional Electives
19-452 EPP Projects II
70-342 Managing Across Cultures
70-365 International Trade and International Law
70-430 International Management
73-332 Political Economy
76-318 Communicating in the Global Marketplace
79-203 The Other Europe: The Habsburgs, Communism, & Central/Eastern Europe, 1740-1990
79-205 20th Century Europe
79-223 Mexico: From the Aztec Empire to the Drug War
79-227 Modern Africa: The Slave Trade to the End of Apartheid
79-229 The Origins of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, 1880-1948
79-230 Arab-Israeli Conflict Since 1948
79-257 Germany and the Second World War
79-262 Modern China: From the Birth of Mao ... to Now
79-264 Tibet and China: History and Propaganda
79-265 Russian History: Game of Thrones
79-266 Russian History and Revolutionary Socialism
79-267 The Soviet Union in World War II: Military, Political, and Social History
79-275 Introduction to Global Studies
79-288 Bananas, Baseball, and Borders: Latin America and the United States
79-301 History of Surveillance: From the Plantation to Data Capitalism
79-302 Killer Robots: The Ethics, Law, and Politics of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems
79-313 "Unwanted": Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Patterns of Global Migration
79-314 The Politics and Culture of Memory
79-318 Sustainable Social Change: History and Practice
79-320 Women, Politics, and Protest
79-343 Education, Democracy, and Civil Rights
79-377 Food, Culture, and Power: A History of Eating
79-385 Out of Africa: The Making of the African Diaspora
80-135 Introduction to Political Philosophy
80-136 Social Structure, Public Policy & Ethics
80-249 AI, Society, and Humanity
80-335 Social and Political Philosophy
80-348 Health, Human Rights, and International Development
80-447 Global Justice
82-3xx or 4xx Advanced Level Modern Language Class
88-234 Negotiation: International Focus
88-281 Topics in Law: 1st Amendment
88-284 Topics of Law: The Bill of Rights
88-411 The Rise of the Asian Economies