Global Studies

What Is It?:

Global Studies is an interdisciplinary undergraduate major that provides a strong foundation in the analysis of contemporary global issues through coursework, research, and experiential learning including study abroad. 

Global Studies majors are able to:

  • combine theories and methods of multiple social science disciplines to view the most pressing global issues from a variety of perspectives
  • utilize advanced language and cultural skills to work professionally with diverse groups of people
  • apply specialized skills and expertise to address global challenges that suit their strengths and interests

The major consists of three principle components: interdisciplinary global studies foundations, language and culture studies (including study abroad), and thematic areas. Students work with an academic advisor to construct an individualized Plan of Study that reflects their interests, goals and proficiencies, taking courses in a number of departments to enrich, complement, and coordinate knowledge of other cultures and global processes from an interdisciplinary perspective. The competencies established through the Global Studies major prepare students for careers in business, public policy, international affairs, government, law, public health, non-profit sector, communications, education, and sustainable development among other areas.

Each student chooses one thematic area (or approved combination of relevant areas):

  • Cultures in Contact
  • Environment, Sustainability, and Social Responsibility
  • Global Health
  • Governance, Conflict, and Resolution
  • Human Rights
  • Knowledge, Communication, and Information Systems
  • Wealth and Poverty in a Globalized World

For more information, please visit the LAS Global Studies.  

Courses That Introduce the Major:

  • GLBL 100Intro to Global Studies
  • GLBL 296—Global Studies Foundation Seminar
  • GLBL 298—Global Studies Seminar Abroad
  • Selected Global Studies Interdisciplinary Foundation Courses offered by several social science departments (Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History, Political Science, and Sociology).

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period. 

Possible Career Opportunities:

The Global Studies major prepares students for today's highly competitive global markets, in which flexibility and cultural competency are essential. Professionals are expected to undertake a variety of different tasks, and they may be stationed at a variety of locations around the globe and/or work with in an intercultural setting. This major provides students with a set of core competencies and experiences that make them, as graduates, highly attractive to global corporations, non-governmental organizations, and the public sector (e.g., State Department, CIA, USAID).

Common Career Titles Related to this Major:

(Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree)

  • Congressional Aide
  • Economist
  • Foreign Language Teacher
  • Foreign Service Officer
  • Global Health Policy Analyst or Practitioner
  • Immigration Lawyer
  • International Aid Worker
  • International Banker
  • International Trade Specialist
  • Interpreter or Translator
  • Journalist
  • Labor Relations Specialist
  • Policy Analyst
  • Professor 
  • Program Officer at an NGO
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Tourism Specialist

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:

  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Applying for a study abroad experience
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • AIESEC Illinois: serve as an international platform for young people to explore and develop their leadership potential to create a positive impact in society
    • Model United Nations Illinois: provides members with opportunities to participate in United Nations simulations on the national circuit, utilizing their passion for world issues and strengthening skills in negotiation, research, persuasion, writing, and public speaking.
    • Other Global Studies Focused RSOs

Related Skills:

  • Cross-cultural and international analysis
  • Economic and political analysis,
  • Quantitative and qualitative research
  • Historical and cultural analysis
  • Professional written and spoken communication skills
  • Advanced foreign language and cultural proficiency
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking skills

Further Information:

For more information on what you can do with a major in Global Studies, visit The Career Center’s webpage: What Can I Do With This Major.

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Global Studies.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Global Studies. These organizations include Global Studies Foundation and Global Studies Association.

For more information on the classes needed for a degree in Global Studies, visit Undergraduate Programs.