2 answers

Is it more beneficial to major in international studies with a regional focus, or just general international studies?

Asked Shoreline, Washington

2 answers

Christine’s Answer

Updated Dallas, Texas

Hi Jasmine,

I believe it is a lot more beneficial to major in International Studies with a regional focus, particularly one that interests you. Your interest will take you a long way to ensuring you stay motivated in competing your coursework, degree requirements, and further studies down the road. It never hurts to become specialized in an area of the world that interests you, but also combine that with language study. This will give you the added benefit of becoming specialized in an area, their issues, government, culture, people, and even language. That, combined with your general International Studies coursework, would give you a wonderful foundation to complete your undergraduate degree and continue on to further studies if you wish, or pursue your career in whatever area you desire (e.g., development, law, policy, research/teaching, etc.). 

When I was an undergraduate, I majored in International Studies as well, and focused on Latin America. Why? Well, my family is from Peru, I speak Spanish, love the region, and wanted to maintain knowledge about it. I also loved traveling, and wanted to be aware of what was going on. Ultimately, use your own background, experiences, and interests to determine which region you find yourself drawn to, and maybe where you would want to travel to or work in one day.

Katie’s Answer

Updated Austin, Texas

It really depends on what you want to do in the long run. If you want to be more of an area specialist then really concentrating on a region is great. I have found in my experience that you can focus more in graduate school and that being more general in undergrad can be beneficial. If you are looking to join the Department of State or one of the Intelligence agencies then looking going onto their website and see what regions they are focusing on can help you as you make your choice. Also, you may want to talk to your Diplomat in Residence at your school or more locally. Again if you aren't sure if you have a DIR log onto the DOS website and look up the Diplomats in Residence. They are there to help answer questions about the foreign service and some general DOS questions. They'll have some general information about the other intelligence agencies, but not a ton. There are always pros and cons to both of these options, so try to get as much information from folks who have made that decision.