International Relations

International relations is an interdisciplinary field of study that examines the relationships and interactions between nation-states, international organizations and non-state actors. As a student with a major or minor in international relations, you will learn about such topics as international politics, diplomacy, international law, international security and global governance.

While preparing for careers with governmental agencies, NGOs and domestic and global commercial operations—or further study in graduate school—you’ll also study the relations between nations, including the distribution of power, decision-making and conflict resolution. 

Using real-world examples from the pages of history, you’ll study the ways in which states interact with each other, including the role of international organizations and treaties and the rules and norms that govern these interactions. You’ll also explore how states cooperate through international organizations—such as the United Nations and NATO—to manage global issues, such as security, human rights, international justice, conflict, economic development and environmental protection.

Through the lenses of history and current events, IR students also explore the causes and consequences of conflict and the strategies used to maintain peace and security in the international system, seeking to understand the economic, political and social implications of the increasing interconnectedness of the world's economies.

You will have a variety of career paths open to you, prepared to work in a governmental, social or business environment within an international context. Training in advanced language skills, combined with historical and political knowledge of specific regions of the world, will make you very competitive in the job market.


Program Information

Majoring in international relations immerses you in the study of international politics, diplomacy, law, security, and global governance, providing a comprehensive understanding of global affairs.

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Required Credit Hours


"Whether focusing on security, foreign affairs or language, each professor has exceptional ability and can answer difficult questions. And the center works to facilitate amazing career and study-abroad opportunities to greatly expand options."

—Joseph Grabill

Program Requirements

Students majoring in international relations are required to complete 36 credits in the following courses.

  • IR 102 Careers in IR
  • IR 200 Writing and Research in IR
  • IR 393 Political and Economic Geography
  • IR 499 Advanced International Relations Theory
  • Must be at 300 level and above or 6 credit hours of IR prefixed electives
  • Arabic Studies
  • Asian Studies
  • European and Russian Studies
  • Human Rights and Humanitarian Operations
  • Intelligence and Security Studies
  • Latin America
  • Middle East and Africa
  • U.S. Foreign Policy
  • IR 145 Global Society
  • IR 208 Politics of Great Powers
  • IR 209 Politics of Emerging Powers
  • IR 245 International Relations
  • IR 254 American Foreign Policy
  • IR 345W Security Ethics
  • IR 491 Internship

Double Major in International Relations

As an international relations major, you may choose to enhance your skills and increase your attractiveness in the job market by completing a double major in four years.

Due to the complementary nature of the coursework, many students choose to complete their second major in political science, history, modern languages & literatures or any other offerings in the College of Liberal Arts.

Study Abroad Opportunities

Explore the world while you explore international relations.

International relations students are strongly encouraged to spend at least one semester abroad during the course of their undergraduate studies. Through study abroad, you will develop global awareness, experience diverse cultures and gain deeper knowledge in your chosen area of concentration. Study abroad experience is also an excellent addition to a resume if you will be seeking careers in an IR-related field.

As a major, you may study abroad in any country, provided that you do so through an accredited program approved by the directors. The university has two campuses abroad: one in Dublin, Ireland, and one in Rome, Italy.

Duquesne still maintains in Rome its first (since 1985) study abroad/exchange program: DU/Villa Nazareth. For decades, this program has served, in both Italian and English, DU students in all disciplines. Currently, it is only for international relations majors.

The cost of the DU/VN program includes tuition/fees, room/board, public transportation in the city of Rome, as well as a few excursions throughout Italy. You will be responsible for your round trip airfare, course material and personal miscellanea.