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International Relations Certificate

Contact: M.J. Peterson ((Fall 2008)
Office: 326 Thompson
Phone: (413) 545-6171


Contact: Peter Haas (Spring 2008)
Office: Thompson 216
Phone: (413) 545-6174


The Program

The International Relations Certificate Program offers all undergraduates an opportunity to supplement their major with a course of study allowing them to pursue an interest in international affairs. Courses in the program help students enhance their understanding of the complex international processes—political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental—that are increasingly important for community and individual life in all countries.

Seven courses chosen from six areas of study, plus attaining intermediate-level mastery of a contemporary language, comprise the core of the certificate program. Because it is a Five College program, the certificate is awarded by the Five College International Relations Committee, and its completion noted on the undergraduate transcripts of those who fulfill all the requirements. Students are encouraged to take advantage of Five College interchange while pursuing the certificate, but the committee realizes that the logistics of cross-campus studies can be challenging and does not require students to do so. Students may offer courses taken during education abroad for certificate credit; these must be approved by one of the campus certificate advisers. Information on Education Abroad programs and procedures is available from the International Programs Office in the William S. Clark International Center, tel. (413) 545-2710. More detailed information about the International Relations Certificate is available from the advisers listed above and the certificate website.


The Certificate Program consists of a minimum of eight courses covering the following areas of study:

1. Introductory world politics
2. Global institutions or problems
3. The international financial and/or commercial system
4. A modern history course paying substantial attention to the development of the international system
5. Contemporary American foreign policy
6. A contemporary foreign language up to a proficiency level of the second college year (through 240)
7. Two courses on the politics, economy, and/or society of foreign areas. One of these must involve the study of a Third World country or region and can be chosen from the Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East or Third World sections of the Requirement 7 course list.

The complete list of courses at all Five Colleges that satisfy each certificate requirement is available through the certificate website.

No more than four courses in any one discipline can be counted toward the certificate, and no single course can satisfy more than one certificate requirement. Students who complete each of the required courses with a grade of B or better (no Pass/Fail options) are eligible to receive the Five College International Relations Certificate.

Career Opportunities

The IR Certificate Program is a “super minor” compatible with all undergraduate majors. It provides students with a way to prepare for and indicate strong interest in a career involving work taking them across national borders as government officials, members of international organization staffs, journalists, businesspersons, paid or volunteer staff of transnational nongovernmental organizations or political and social activists. Most professional careers in the field require some postgraduate study, either a law degree or a master’s in public policy, international affairs, business, public health or applied science. The certificate also provides students who are not planning such a career with opportunities to develop knowledge about other areas of the world.