International Relations Major

To declare IR as your major, log into AXESS and indicate that you want to declare the IR major. Read over the major requirements and policies below, then complete and return the following forms:

Your proposal will be reviewed by the Program Director. When it is approved you will be declared as an IR major and notified by email. You should try to declare by the first quarter of your junior year, including those declaring a secondary or double major.

IR majors are required to

  1. Undertake a set of Core Courses in Political Science, Economics, History and Statistics.
  2. Complete a Primary or Secondary Specialization.
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language.
  4. Compete a quarter of study overseas through the Bing Overseas Studies Program or a pre-approved non-Stanford program.

Check the Stanford Bulletin for course availability.

International Politics (5 units)
. Political Science 1

Comparative Governance (5 units)
One of the following courses
. Political Science 4
. History 102

American Foreign Policy (5 units)
One of the following courses
. Political Science 110C
. Political Science 110D

Introductory Economics (10 units)
Two of the following lower division Economic Courses
. Economics 1A
. Economics 1B
. Economics 50
. Economics 51
. Economics 52

Applied Economics (5 units)
Approved upper-division economics courses.

Skills Class (5 units)
At least one of the following courses
. Political Science 150A
. Statistics 60
. Econ 102A

Complete 20 units in a primary specialization and 15 units in a secondary specialization from the list below.

  • International Security
  • Economic Development/World Economy 
  • Comparative International Governance    
  • Social Development & Human Well-Being
  • Africa        
  • East & South Asia        
  • Latin American & Iberian Studies
  • Europe (East and West) and Russia        
  • MECA (Middle East and Central Asia)


  • At least one course must be an upper division, seminar or colloquium.
  • At least one course must be designated by the IR Program as writing intensive (WIM).
  • All courses counting toward the major must be taken for a LETTER GRADE and receive a “C” or better. Transfer courses from universities outside Stanford must receive a B- or better to count toward the degree.
  • Up to five units of Directed Reading can be counted towards your IR major requirements.
  • Up to three non-Stanford courses, for a maximum of 15 units, may be counted toward the IR major. Petitions for credit must be submitted to the IR office.
  • A maximum of 25 units of lower division classes may be taken in the major, including PS 1, PS4, Econ 1A, 1B, 50, 51, 52 and Stats 60.
  • Proficiency in a foreign language may be demonstrated by a) completing two years of university-level instruction or b) passing a proficiency exam administered by the Language Center.
  • Advanced Placements units do not fulfull the foreign language requirement.
  • Foreign language units do not count towards the major.
  • At least one quarter of study overseas through the Stanford Overseas Studies Program or a pre-approved non-Stanford program.
  • For additional policies and requirements, please see the IR Information Handbook.
  • If double majoring, you cannot count any of the courses used to fulfill the requirements for the second major toward the IR major.

Double and Secondary Majors

Please note that even a double or secondary major in IR must be declared by the junior year.

Although most students declare only one major, a student may formally declare more than one major within a single baccalaureate (A.B. or B.S.) program. The student may do this either at the time of initial Major declaration, or by adding another major at a later date. Students should meet with advisors to discuss multiple major options.

Both departments/programs will have access to all information pertinent to the student’s academic record, and students are expected to have an advisor for both majors. Both majors will be reflected on the diploma and transcript.

When declaring double majors, students must make sure not to duplicate courses. To ensure that courses do not overlap, the IR Program (and the University) require that you complete a Multiple Major-Minor Course Approval Form (PDF) indicating which courses you plan to apply toward each major. This must be filled out and approved by each major department/program.


The difference between a Double Major and Secondary Major is the ability to duplicate courses. If pursuing a Secondary Major, you can duplicate courses for each major. The Secondary Major will appear on your transcript (with SEC as a notation) but not on your diploma.

Please complete both the Proposal and the course grid online, print it and submit it to the IR office.