IAS Major Requirements

Learn more about the IAS Major & Foreign Language Requirements

General Requirements

All IAS majors, regardless of concentration, must:

  • Complete a minimum of 36 units in IAS, including a minimum of 24 units at the 300 or 400 level (the advanced credits must be unique to the IAS major).
  • Receive a grade of C+ or higher in all IAS courses; all courses taken for IAS credit must be taken for a letter grade, including language courses.
  • Satisfy a foreign language requirement which entails the successful completion of four semesters of a language appropriate to their IAS concentration while at Washington University.
  • Enroll in a minimum of two courses focused on the same world area and a third course focused on a different area. We consider world areas to be Africa, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and South Asia. The Development, Global Cultural Studies, and International Affairs concentrations also include North America as a world area.
  • Select upper-level courses from a minimum of three (3) academic disciplines (for example, AFAS, Anthropology, Art History, Economics, Film, History, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Political Science and WGSS).

Please Note:

  • Students must complete one semester of language before declaring the major.
  • Of the required advanced units, no more than 12 total units can ever be earned outside of the day school of Washington University (including study abroad, University College, or summer school from other US universities, or a combination) and never more than 6 units from a single semester, 3 from a summer, or 12 from a year. 
  • To receive credit for a summer course completed at another institution, students should fill out the Approval for Non-Wash U Course Credit form with Arts & Sciences to take the course for 'general credit' and then petition to have the course count toward the IAS major.
  • For those students who do no study abroad for IAS credit, an additional course (3 units) at the 300 or 400 level is required.
  • For more detailed information about the general requirements, please see the IAS FAQs page.
  • See individual concentration descriptions for concentration-specific requirements.

Foreign Language Requirement

All IAS majors must satisfy the foreign language requirement: the successful completion of four semesters of one language appropriate to their concentration while at Washington University. For some students, this may mean the first four semesters of a language; for others who place into advanced language classes, and with approval of IAS language faculty, this may include literature, culture, oral communications and linguistic courses in the target language, once they complete the basic language sequence. Students must complete one semester of their language sequence to be eligible to declare a major in IAS. 

Students are encouraged to study more than one language at Washington University, but must satisfy their IAS language requirement by demonstrating competence in at least one language through the fourth semester. Available modern languages include Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili. Please consult Course Listings for details about the language sequences. At the 'A&S IQ tab,' click on 'Courses,' and then toggle 'Area requirement' to 'LS Language & Cultural Diversity--Language' and choose your language.

Special note for Spanish Speakers: the following Spanish courses are not part of the regular sequence that we permit to count toward the four semesters of foreign language: Intermediate Spanish Conversation and Culture (L38 223), Business Spanish (L38 351), Medical Spanish (L38 353), and Spanish for the Social Sciences (L38 355). Some students might find these courses valuable for other reasons.Those who have questions about this should consult with their major advisor.

Advanced foreign language courses in literature and culture used to satisfy the foreign language requirement may be counted as advanced credit for IAS majors as long as they are cross-listed with--or approved for study abroad credit for--the student's IAS concentration AND provided the courses are not being counted toward any other degree.

Language courses taken to fulfill the IAS language requirement may count toward another major or minor unless they are being counted as advanced elective units for the IAS major requirement.

Students with prior language experience:

Native speakers of a foreign language must satisfy the four semester requirement in another language appropriate to their concentration.

Heritage speakers who do not have a native level of fluency must seek appropriate placement by the coordinator of the language program and complete the four semester requirement.

Transfer students who have taken language courses may receive credit for the courses as part of the four-semester IAS foreign language requirement only if a placement exam is taken upon arrival at or return to Washington University and the foreign language department determines that the student may progress to the next highest level of language instruction.

Students who take a foreign language course at another institution (whether in the US or abroad) may receive credit for the course as part of the four-semester IAS foreign language requirement only if 1) the credit is transferred back as WU credit and 2) they take a placement exam upon return to Washington University and the foreign language department determines that the student may progress to the next highest level of language instruction.