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Specialization Courses

Majors must complete 20-25 units in a Primary specialization and 15-20 units in a Secondary specialization from the list below.

Always confirm course availability with Stanford ExploreCourses, as offerings are subject to change (search using the course tags listed in parentheses below). 

Some photos below were taken by current and former Stanford students/faculty in order from top to bottom: Amanda Robinson ’13; N/A; Pearly Meixsel ’14; N/A; Dharshani Lakmali Jayasinghe; Lucia Brunel ’25; Sarah Raza ’23; N/A; Gabriella Garcia ’27; N/A; Michelle Kwon ’16.

Africa (IR::africa)

Comparative International Governance (IR::comp_gov)

The Comparative and International Governance specialization examines governing institutions both at the international level and across countries.  Courses in this specialization cover international institutions such as the United Nations and European Union; the origin and role of international law; the political systems of specific countries and regions; and the causes and consequences of variation in political institutions.  

East and South Asia (IR::east_soasia)

Economic Development / World Economy (IR::worldecon)

The Economic Development and World Economy specialization examines international and regional economic relations and the sources of economic development around the globe.  Courses in this specialization cover major international economic systems, including trade and finance; the institutions that govern these systems; the causes of inequality within and between countries; the effect of the international economy on countries and regions; and the history, politics, and economics of economic growth.

Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources (IR::eenr)

The Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources specialization examines the politics, economics, and science behind global environmental problems, the production of energy, and the use of natural resources around the world.  Courses in this specialization cover global environmental systems, such as the atmosphere and oceans, and the institutions and laws that govern them; the political and economic trade-offs involved in energy production; and how societies make decisions about the extraction and sustainable use of natural resources.

Europe (East and West) & Russia (IR::europe)

International History and Culture (IR::ihc)

The International History and Culture specialization examines history and culture of other countries, with an emphasis on how history and culture both shape and are shaped by politics and society. Courses in this specialization cover the history of specific countries or regions; the history of the international system and important events or periods; the culture and religion of societies beyond the United States; and the interaction between the arts, politics, and society.

International Security (IR::intlsec)

The International Security specialization examines how people and countries meet threats arising from other states and non-state actors.  Courses in this specialization cover the formulation and conduct of foreign policy; the causes of and solutions to interstate war, civil war, genocide, and terrorism; the role of international institutions and law in preventing and regulating conflict; and diplomatic and military history.

Latin American and Iberian Studies (IR::latinamer)

Middle East and Central Asia (MECA) (IR::meca)

Social Development and Human Well-Being (IR::socdev)

The Social Development and Human Well-Being specialization examines the factors that affect people’s quality of life and influence inequality within and across countries. Courses in this specialization cover the politics and economics of public services such as health and education; the definition, protection, and abuse of human rights; the effects of international law, humanitarian aid, and transitional justice; the politics of migration; and gender and religious rights.