Global Studies Major

As interactions between states, societies, and cultures increase, so too do the responses to these interactions multiply. The Global Studies major allows students to explore such interactions and their outcomes. By bringing in both historical and contemporary material, the major provides students with the tools that they need in order to make sense of the world in which they live—as well as understanding how it got to be that way. Students pursuing an undergraduate degree in global studies will engage in thinking critically about how global change has (and can) come about during the course of their lifetimes. The major aims to have students focus on relevant issues to them in a way that provides intellectual flexibility. The major will offer solid training in how to use acquired knowledge to become agents of positive change on the global issues that matter most to people here, and elsewhere around the world.

The Global Studies major requires students to choose a concentration and a geographic region in which to become an expert. It connects this regional specialization to language training. Global Studies majors will choose one of three concentrations: (1) Global Development; (2) Global Peace and Conflict; or (3) Global Societies and Cultures. This will allow students to focus their studies on a specific aspect of the “global.” At the same time, those pursuing this major will choose one of five regions (Asia, Africa, Europe/Russia, The Americas or the Middle East) in which to specialize, both in terms of content and language. In doing so, students have an opportunity to become an expert in a specific region, especially as it relates to larger questions that arise from global interaction. In addition, the major requires training in critical thinking–that is how to study a particular problem in a consistent and rigorous way. Students will work with faculty and the Global Studies advisors to devise a program that best captures their interests and allows them to reach their intellectual and professional potentials.

Global Studies Requirements and Policies

Student Learning Goals
Every major on the Berkeley campus has established learning goals for its students.

Students who complete the major in Global Studies will:

  • Acquire historical and geographical knowledge, and develop language skills;
  • Develop strong interdisciplinary training, gaining control over key concepts in the social sciences and/or the humanities (see below);
  • Apply an interdisciplinary approach to the study of contemporary global issues;
  • Demonstrate analytical skills, as well as those in critical reading and writing, through research.
  • Synthesize the ways in which local circumstances influence global events, and vice-versa.
Global Studies Concentrations
Global Development
This concentration area will focus on the relationship between “developed” and “developing” societies. Looking at the ways in which states around the world interact with local, regional, and global economies, the global development concentration examines the problems, processes, and prospects associated with differing levels of development across societies. Students who choose this concentration will explore the ways in which inequality between societies relates to inequality within societies.

Global Peace & Conflict
This concentration considers the relationship between peace and conflict, both among and within societies. It explores the ways in which conflict arises around the globe, and considers ways in which existing conflicts can be identified, studied, and (potentially) resolved. Students who pursue the peace and conflict concentration consider power relationships between states and supranational institutions. They explore the ways in which justice is defined in a variety of settings and how to apply such principles of justice in resolving difficult conflicts in order to achieve peaceful outcomes.

Global Societies and Cultures
This concentration considers the internal workings of various societies around the world. Explicitly comparative, students who choose this topic will engage with the ways in which local, regional, and national cultures are produced. In this sense, students who choose this concentration will consider cultural artifacts and forms, such as literature, film, the visual arts, and performance, like theatre and music. History, Philosophy, and Rhetoric also play significant parts in this concentration area, giving students an opportunity to think about the ways in which culture and society interact to form coherent national and global narratives.

Major Requirements

Lower Division:
5 courses

  • GLOBAL 10A: Introduction to Global Studies. This must be completed with a grade of C or better prior to declaring the major. A grade of C- does not satisfy this requirement. Note: This requirement may be repeated only once to achieve a grade of C or better.
  • GLOBAL 10B: Critical Issues in Global Studies.
  • ECON 1 or 2: Introduction to Economics, Introduction to Environmental Economics and Policy
  • GLOBAL 45 (or POLECON C45): Survey of World History. An AP score of 5 on the World History exam will satisfy this requirement.
  • STAT 2, C8, 20, 21 or W21: Intro to Statistics, Foundations of Data Science, Intro to Probability and Statistics, Intro to Probability and Statistics for Business. An AP score of 3 on the Statistics exam will satisfy the STAT 2 requirement.

Foreign Language:
Global Studies majors must demonstrate proficiency in a modern language other than English by the last semester of their senior year. This language must be connected, in either the past or the present, to the student’s geographic region of specialization. Proficiency is equivalent to the ability achieved in four college-level semesters (or two years). Language courses taken in high school do not satisfy this requirement. See below for details on how to fulfill the foreign language requirement.

Upper Division:
1. Core Courses: (FOUR courses)

  • Concentration Course: Global Studies 100D OR 100P or 100S: This course provides an introduction to one of the three concentration fields and exposes students to the relevant theoretical, historical, and contemporary literature for that concentration.
  • Disciplinary Courses: Choose TWO courses from the same disciplinary area for your concentration. These should be selected from the Disciplinary Course List (Appendices A1-A3 of the Requirements & Policies handbook). The courses wherever possible should speak to each other about a particular problem or approach in which you are interested.
  • Critical Thinking Class/Methodology. We strongly suggest that you take GLOBAL 102 (IAS 102) in your sophomore or very early in your junior year. This class provides a foundation for how to engage and understand a variety of sources and issues within the field of global studies. Students and faculty alike report improved student learning as a result of taking this class early in one’s college career. Other approved courses can be found in Appendix C of the Requirements & Policies handbook.

2. Geographic Focus: (FOUR courses)

This is where students will be able to study more deeply about a particular world region than they can in other contexts. These courses should provide students with substantive knowledge of the cultural, political, economic, and historical trajectories of the regions being studied. As a result, students MUST select courses from the following two areas:

  • Global Studies 110E (Europe and Russia), 110K (Africa, North and Sub-Saharan), 110L (the Americas) 110M (Middle East and North Africa), or 110Q (Asia). Students must enroll in one of these classes, which provide a broad overview of a particular region in its modern global context. It must match the rest of the student’s geographic focus.
  • THREE courses that focus on the same region, which can be selected from Appendices B1-B3 of the Requirements & Policies handbook. These courses should also be able to converse with one another about a specific area of interest.

The student’s language training MUST match up with the particular world region on which the student has decided to focus. Example: Students studying Chinese will have to focus on Asia.

How to Declare

Declarations are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year during the spring, summer and fall semesters.

To be eligible to declare students must:

  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.
  • Have completed GLOBAL 10A or GLOBAL C10A with a grade of C or better (C- does not satisfy this requirement).

Note: GLOBAL 10A or GLOBAL C10A may be repeated only once to achieve a grade of C or better.

  • Have completed GLOBAL 45 (IAS 45) with a grade of B- or better on the first attempt
  • Have completed one additional lower division non-language requirement (see below)
  • Have completed a Major Declaration Workshop.
  • Not be in their final semester of undergraduate work.

Additionally, students are encouraged – but not required – to complete two semesters of college-level foreign language or the equivalent before applying to the major.

When you are ready to declare, click here

More Information
To be eligible for honors, students must have senior standing and a GPA of 3.6 in the major and 3.5 in all work completed at UC, Berkeley. Doing honors includes a year-long course sequence (GLOBAL H102 in the fall and GLOBAL H195 in the spring) in which students learn how to formulate a hypothesis, conduct supporting research, and complete a thesis paper of approximately 75 pages or longer.

Global Studies Major Map

How to Declare a Major

Meet with an Advisor