Carnegie Mellon University

Bachelor of Science in International Relations and Politics

Offered through the Institute for Politics and Strategy (IPS), the International Relations and Politics (IRP) major analyzes the role of politics at the national, regional, international, and transnational levels; examines political and institutional arrangements within and among these levels; and investigates the grand strategy of nation-states.

International Relations and Politics is available as a primary major, additional major, and minor.

Offered through the Institute for Politics and Strategy (IPS), the Bachelor of Science in International Relations and Politics (IRP) analyzes the role of politics at the national, regional, international, and transnational levels; examines political and institutional arrangements within and among these levels; and investigates the grand strategy of nation-states.

Statesmen, scholars, and policy makers often define grand strategy as the combination of diplomatic, economic, military, and political factors used by leaders to defend their respective nation-states. The IRP major investigates the way in which leaders and citizens construct grand strategy and national security policy more generally; the impact of domestic and international forces on states’ security and economic policies; and the significance of alliances, coalitions, and international institutions for world politics. Although the study of grand strategy and political institutions is the flagship initiative of the major, students are also able to study the effects of culture, economics, and society on the international system through a rich set of elective courses.

Thinking systematically about international and domestic politics is the core objective of the IRP major. To this end, the major has required courses in mathematics and statistics that help to sharpen students’ ability to undertake scientific analysis in the required substantive and historical courses. The major is rooted in the discipline of political science but also utilizes the interdisciplinary strengths of decision science, economics, and political history. Thus, students pursuing this major will use the analytic tools of game theory, economic and statistical analysis, qualitative analysis, rational choice theory, and theories of behavioral decision making as they study alliances, coalitions, institutions, and political strategy.

The name of the major signifies that those studying IRP learn about international relations and domestic politics from the standpoint of the discipline of political science. Also, the major taps into and contributes to CMU’s strengths in other social sciences that combine analytical and empirical methods. IRP includes an innovative initiative that incorporates decision science in political science. It enables students to apply the burgeoning science of judgment and decision making to understanding political actors’ strategies and foibles, the strengths and weaknesses of formal methods of policy analysis (e.g., cost, risk, benefit, analysis), and the factors shaping public responses to politics and policies. 

Recognizing the influence of language and culture on politics, 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 public policy and intern in Washington for one semester. Courses taken through CMU/WSP will count toward the elective sequence in politics and public policy for IRP majors.

IRP majors interested in developing their research skills are encouraged to apply for a research position with the Center for International Relations and Politics or work directly with a member of the IPS faculty. Students are also encouraged to join student organizations focused on domestic or international politics. Becoming involved in the Institute for Politics and Strategy, as well as attending lectures and events sponsored by the Center for International Relations and Politics will provide additional opportunities for students. Students are also encouraged to submit their work for publication in the CIRP Journal, an online and print publication that analyzes current problems facing the United States and the international system.

In addition to the primary major in International Relations and Politics, IPS offers an additional major. Minors in International Relations and Politics, Cybersecurity and International Conflict, and Politics and Public Policy are also available. IPS also offers a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Politics jointly with the Undergraduate Economics Program.

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

Core Courses

Students must complete all of the following core courses.

84-104 Decision Processes in American Political Institutions
84-250 Writing for Political Science and Policy*
84-265 Political Science Research Methods
84-275 Comparative Politics
84-326 Theories of International Relations
84-369 Decision Science for International Relations**
84-450 Policy Forum
36-202 Methods for Statistics & Data Science
84-110

Foundations of Political Economy***
         OR         73-102          Principles of Microeconomics

*Beginning with the 2018 undergraduate catalog, students are required to take this core course.  For students following a prior catalog, this course will count as an IPS elective for the major.
**Beginning with the 2017 undergraduate catalog, students are required to take this as a core course. For students following a prior catalog, this course will count as an IPS elective for the major.
***New course offering beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year.  Open to all IRP majors regardless of entry year.

Mathematics Requirement

Excluded from all double counting rules. Students must complete one of the following courses.

21-120 Differential and Integral Calculus
or 21-112 Calculus II

Language Requirement

Students are required to complete the intermediate (200) level or the equivalent in 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, will be required to take an advanced language course to satisfy the language requirement.

Electives

International Relations and Politics students will fulfill the elective requirement by pursuing either option 1 or option 2 listed below:

Option 1) take 45 units (five courses) from the elective lists below. At least three courses (27 units) must be from the Institute for Politics and Strategy (84-xxx). Most courses listed below are 9-unit courses, but some are fewer. When courses offered for fewer than 9 units are chosen, students should note that a minimum of 45 units is required, and should plan to take one or more additional courses as appropriate.

Option 2) complete the majority of their electives via the Carnegie Mellon University Washington Semester Program (CMU/WSP) politics and public policy elective sequence. Any elective units not fulfilled during CMU/WSP should be completed through coursework from the Institute for Politics and Strategy (84-xxx) elective list.


The Washington Semester Program (CMUWSP) Politics and Public Policy sequence includes:

  • Policy Forum (12 units) - This course will count as the Policy Forum (84-450) Core Course Requirement.
  • Internship Seminar 84-360 CMU/WSP: Internship Seminar (12 units)
  • CMU/WSP Elective Seminars (24 units total)

A list of CMU/WSP Elective Seminars may be found in the Politics and Public Policy elective list below.

Grand Strategy and Political Institutions

66-221

Topics of Law: Introduction to Intellectual Property Law

79-298

Mobile Phones & Social Media in Development & Human Rights: A Critical Appraisal

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

80-135

Introduction to Political Philosophy

80-321

Causation, Law, and Social Policy

80-335

Social and Political Philosophy

84-309

Political Behavior

84-319

U.S. Foreign Policy and Interventions in World Affairs

84-320

Domestic Politics and International Affairs

84-321

Autocrats and Democrats

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

84-362

Diplomacy and Statecraft

84-363

Comparative Legal Systems

84-364

Comparative Presidential Behavior: Leadership, Personality, and Decision Making

84-366

The American Presidency

84-370

Global Nuclear Politics

84-372

Space and National Security

84-373

Emerging Technologies and the Law

84-380

Grand Strategy in the United States

84-386

The Privatization of Force

84-387

Technology and Policy of Cyber War

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

84-414

International and Subnational Security

88-281

Topics in Law: 1st Amendment

88-284

Topics of Law: The Bill of Rights

Economics and Society

19-452

EPP Projects

70-342

Managing Across Cultures

70-365

International Trade and International Law

70-430

International Management

73-103

Principles of Macroeconomics

73-328

Health Economics

73-332

Political Economy

79-386

Entrepreneurs in Africa, Past, Present and Future

80-136

Social Structure, Public Policy & Ethics

80-244

Environmental Ethics

80-249

AI, Society, and Humanity

80-348

Health, Human Rights, and International Development

80-447

Global Justice

84-308

Political Economy of Latin America

84-310

International Political Economy

84-311

International Development: Theory and Praxis

84-312

Gender and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

84-313

International Organizations and Law

84-315

Contemporary Debates in Human Rights

84-318

Politics of Developing Nations

88-411

Rise of the Asian Economies


International Cultures

76-318

Communicating in the Global Marketplace

76-386

Language & Culture

79-203

From the Habsburgs to the Velvet Revolution: A Modern History of Central Europe

79-205

20th Century Europe

79-223

Mexico: From the Aztec Empire to the Drug War

79-224

Mayan America

79-227

Modern Africa: The Slave Trade to the End of Apartheid

79-229

Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1880-1948

79-230

Arab-Israeli Conflict Since 1948

79-233

The United States and the Middle East since 1945

79-257

Germany and the Second World War

79-259

France During World War II

79-262

Modern China: From the Birth of Mao ... to Now

79-264

Tibet and China: History and Propaganda

79-265

Russian History: Tsar, Power, and Rebellion

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

79-291

Globalization in East African History

79-307

Religion and Politics in the Middle East

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

79-338

History of Education in America

79-342

Introduction to Science and Technology Studies

79-343

Education, Democracy, and Civil Rights

79-377

Food, Culture, and Power: A History of Eating

79-381

Energy and Empire: How Fossil Fuels Changed the World

79-385

Out of Africa: The Making of the African Diaspora

79-398

Documenting the 1967 Arab-Israeli War

85-375

Crosscultural Psychology

300 or 400- level language course

CMU/WSP Politics and Public Policy Elective Seminars

84-330

The Shading of Democracy: The Influence of Race on American Politics

84-331

Money, Media, and the Power of Data in Decisionmaking

84-332

Effects of US Policy on Businesses: Perspectives of Asian Americans

84-333

Power and Levers for Change in Washington, DC

84-334

Presidential Power in a Constitutional System

84-336

Implementing Public Policy: From Good Idea To Reality

84-337

Biomedical Science Research, Policy, and Governance

84-340

Making Change: How Organized Interests Work in Washington

84-343

Language and Power: How to Understand and Use Political Speech

84-346

Legal Issues in Public Administration

84-348

Advocacy, Policy and Practice