Carnegie Mellon University

Bachelor of Science in International Relations and Politics

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 current issues relevant to the field of international relations.

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 current issues relevant to the field of international relations.

The IRP major studies the ways in which leaders construct foreign and national security policy; 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.  The major emphasizes the importance of political institutions (domestic and comparative), decision making by leaders in shaping policy, and contemporary challenges to the international system. 

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.

A rich set of electives allows students to investigate issues of national security strategy, cybersecurity and international conflict, military strategy, economic policy, representation and voting rights, climate change, political psychology, grand strategy, and the effects of culture and society on the international and domestic systems. 

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

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 9
84-250 Writing for Political Science and Policy 9
84-265 Political Science Research Methods 9
84-275 Comparative Politics 9
84-326 Theories of International Relations 9
84-369 Decision Science for International Relations 9
84-450 Policy Seminar 6
36-202 Methods for Statistics & Data Science 9
84-110 Foundations of Political Economy 9
or 73-102 Principles of Microeconomics
or 73-103 Principles of Macroeconomics
Mathematics Requirement

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

21-120 Differential and Integral Calculus 10
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, are required to take an advanced language course to satisfy the language requirement.


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 may be completed through coursework from the Institute for Politics and Strategy (84-xxx) elective list.

The Washington Semester Program (CMU/WSP) Politics and Public Policy sequence includes:
  • Policy Seminar (12 units) - Policy Seminar (84-450) and Policy Seminar II (84-451) will count as the core course requirement for the major.
  • 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 9
79-301 History of Surveillance: From the Plantation to Data Capitalism 6
79-302 Killer Robots:The Ethics, Law, and Politics of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems 6
80-135 Introduction to Political Philosophy 9
80-321 Causation, Law, and Social Policy 9
80-335 Social and Political Philosophy 9
84-200 Security War Game Simulation 6
84-303 International Human Rights 6
84-304 In the News: Analysis of Current Events 6



Terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa

Defense Resourcing: From Strategy to Execution



84-319 Civil-Military Relations 9
84-322 Nonviolent Conflict and Revolution 9
84-323 War and Peace in the Contemporary Middle East 9
84-324 The Future of Democracy 9
84-325 Contemporary American Foreign Policy 9
84-327 Repression and Control in Dictatorships 9
84-328 Military Strategy and Doctrine 9
84-329 Military Strategic Theory 6
84-352 Representation and Voting Rights 9
84-362 Diplomacy and Statecraft 9
84-363 Comparative Legal Systems 9
84-364 Comparative Presidential Behavior: Leadership, Personality, and Decision Making 9
84-365 The Politics of Fake News and Misinformation 9
84-366 The American Presidency 9
84-370 Nuclear Security & Arms Control 9
84-372 Space and National Security 9
84-373 Emerging Technologies and the Law 9
84-380 US Grand Strategy 9
84-383 Cyber Policy as National Policy 6
84-386 The Privatization of Force 9
84-387 Technology and Policy of Cyber War 9
84-388 Concepts of War and Cyber War 6
84-389 Terrorism and Insurgency 9
84-390 Social Media, Technology, and Conflict 9
84-393 Legislative Decision Making: US Congress 9
84-402 Judicial Politics and Behavior 9
84-405 The Future of Warfare 9
84-421 Advanced Topics in American Politics 9
88-281 Topics in Law: 1st Amendment 9
88-284 Topics of Law: The Bill of Rights 9
Economics and Society
19-452 EPP Projects II 12
70-342 Managing Across Cultures 9
70-365 International Trade and International Law 9
70-430 International Management 9
73-328 Health Economics 12
73-332 Political Economy 9
80-136 Social Structure, Public Policy & Ethics 9
80-244 Environmental Ethics 9
80-249 AI, Society, and Humanity 9
80-348 Health, Human Rights, and International Development 9
80-447 Global Justice 9
84-307 Economic and Political History of Contemporary China 9
84-308 Political Economy of Latin America Var.
84-310 International Political Economy 9
84-313 International Organizations and Law 9
84-315 Political Economy of International Migration 9
84-316 Political Economy of Transatlantic Partnership 9
84-318 Politics of Developing Nations 9
88-411 Rise of the Asian Economies 9
International Cultures
76-318 Communicating in the Global Marketplace 9
76-386 Language & Culture 9
79-203 The Other Europe: The Habsburgs, Communism, & Central/Eastern Europe, 1740-1990 9
79-205 20th Century Europe 9
79-223 Mexico: From the Aztec Empire to the Drug War 9
79-224 Mayan America 9
79-227 Modern Africa: The Slave Trade to the End of Apartheid 9
79-229 The Origins of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, 1880-1948 9
79-230 Arab-Israeli Conflict Since 1948 9
79-233 The United States and the Middle East since 1945 9
79-257 Germany and the Second World War 9
79-262 Modern China: From the Birth of Mao ... to Now 9
79-264 Tibet and China: History and Propaganda 6
79-265 Russian History: Game of Thrones 9
79-266 Russian History and Revolutionary Socialism 9
79-267 The Soviet Union in World War II: Military, Political, and Social History 9
79-275 Introduction to Global Studies 9
79-288 Bananas, Baseball, and Borders: Latin America and the United States 9
79-307 Religion and Politics in the Middle East 9
79-313 "Unwanted": Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Patterns of Global Migration 6
79-314 The Politics and Culture of Memory 9
79-318 Sustainable Social Change: History and Practice 9
79-320 Women, Politics, and Protest 9
79-338 History of Education in America 9
79-342 Introduction to Science and Technology Studies 9
79-343 Education, Democracy, and Civil Rights 9
79-377 Food, Culture, and Power: A History of Eating 9
79-381 Energy and Empire: How Fossil Fuels Changed the World 9
79-385 Out of Africa: The Making of the African Diaspora 9
79-398 Documenting the 1967 Arab-Israeli War 9
85-375 Crosscultural Psychology 9
300 or 400- level language course
CMU/WSP Politics and Public Policy
84-330 The Shading of Democracy: The Influence of Race on American Politics 6
84-331 Money, Media, and the Power of Data in Decisionmaking 6
84-332 Effects of US Policy on Businesses: Perspectives of Asian Americans 6
84-333 Power and Levers for Change in Washington, DC 12
84-334 The History and Practice of Economic Statecraft 6
84-335 Intelligence and Policy 6
84-336 Implementing Public Policy: From Good Idea To Reality 12
84-337 Biomedical Science Research, Policy, and Governance 6
84-338 Political News Coverage in the Era of Trump, Twitter, and "Fake News" 6
84-339 Seminar in Public Policy Research 12
84-340 Making Change: How Organized Interests Work in Washington 12
84-343 Language and Power: How to Understand and Use Political Speech 6
84-346 Legal Issues in Public Administration 6

Advocacy, Policy and Practice