International Relations Major

Prepare yourself for a career in our global society by studying international issues through the lenses of politics, economics, history, languages and anthropology.

As an international relations (IR) major, you’ll integrate the study of politics, economics, history and foreign languages to gain the skills you need to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

IR students spend at least a semester abroad for a first-hand introduction to a foreign society. A thesis and study in one or two languages are required.

Our IR program gives motivated students core skills in leadership and communication, analyzing issues and problems, and synthesizing different disciplinary approaches—all qualities needed for careers in a global context.

Common career paths include public service, non-governmental organizations, business, law and academia. Pomona is among the top 50 U.S. colleges and universities with career diplomat graduates.

Prof. Pierre Englebert on the flexibility of studying international relations
In class with Professor Pierre Englebert
In class with Professor Pierre Englebert
In class with Professor Heather Williams
In class with Professor Heather Williams

What You’ll Study

    • U.S. foreign policy
    • Modern history course focusing on Europe, Asia, Africa or Latin America
    • International economics
    • One or two foreign languages
    • Study abroad for at least one semester
Of IR majors study abroad and are proficient in at least one foreign language.

Learning at Pomona

Calla Li ’22

Wilson Center Cold War archives

Calla Li ’22 is a part-time intern at the Wilson Center’s Cold War International History Project in Washington D.C. where she virtually assists in the translation, organization and contextualization of Cold War-era documents in Russian and Chinese.

Erin Puckett ’22

U.S.-South Korea Cyber Cooperation

For her course on international relations of East Asia, Erin Puckett ’22 researched bilateral U.S.-South Korea cyber cooperation, particularly related to North Korean cyberattacks. She is interested in state-sponsored cyber-attacks and disinformation campaigns.

Virna Seminario ’23

Studying Food and IR

For her Introduction to International Relations class, Virna Seminario ’23 chose to combine her love for food with her newfound passion for international relations to write about Japanese cuisine as a tool for power and influence.

Max Ober ’22

Tensions in Timbuktu, Mali

Max Ober ’22 researched socio-economic and ethnoreligious tensions of Timbuktu, Mali and ways in which various policies relating to the decolonization of education could provide relief from cycles of poverty and violence.

Kai Carse ’24
Kai Carse ’24

I came into Pomona quite undecided, with an interest in politics, Spanish, and economics, and IR helped me feel like I didn’t have to sacrifice one of those interests in the pursuit of another. … The freedom the department awards its students to discover our interests and pursue them is empowering and makes me grateful to be an IR major.

Faculty & Teaching

Our core faculty’s expertise includes U.S. diplomacy, international trade, development economics, political development, managing international crises, democratic transition, political sociology, peacemaking, political and ethnic violence, global food politics, human rights and non-governmental organizations. 

Professor Pierre Englebert

IR is an ideal multidisciplinary major for a globalized world. It is both rigorous in its requirements and flexible in how they can be met. The two-semester senior thesis requirement is a popular capstone exercise. IR student and faculty form a strong supportive community across the College.