Global and International Studies, B.S.

Program Code: GSBS_BS

Program Description

The interdisciplinary B.S. degree in Global and International Studies is intended to prepare students for lives and careers in a world that is increasingly interdependent. It reflects a “One World” concept that emphasizes the importance of global perspectives, international communication, and study or working experience abroad. The major combines the expertise of multiple disciplines, including the Social Sciences and the Humanities, to suggest a variety of methods for understanding the dynamic issues facing human beings across the globe. The structure of the major also recognizes the fact that the vast majority of the world's people live in regions other than the European and North American spheres, and that a knowledge of non-Anglophone cultures is an important form of preparation for global citizenship.

The major develops transnational and trans-regional literacy, drawing on coursework both in the Humanities and the Social Sciences to focus on questions of globalization, ethical imagination, and ways to engage peoples and cultures in local terms. Students learn to situate global trends, both macro and micro in nature, in relation to other historical processes. Most courses for the GLIS major will demonstrate a global or regional (rather than national) perspective and address a central topic in one of five designated Pathways.

Human Rights

This Pathway examines the history, development, enforcement, and violations of concepts of the basic rights of mankind. Whether through questions of torture, freedom of conscience, trafficking of women and children, agreements about prisoners of war, human rights constantly need redefining and rethinking if they are to be broad enough to cover everyone on our planet and specific enough to have a real effect on human behavior.

Culture and Identity

Global economic, political, and cultural processes are bound up with complex questions of culture and identity at the individual, familial, and community levels. Examining how differences in language, ideology, religion, race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation among others impact our sense of self and other, this Pathway considers:

  • foundational expressions of social and cultural values;
  • the formation and contestation of identity over time;
  • the impacts of modernization on individual, family, and community identity;
  • genetic manipulation and modification; and
  • questions of colonization and colonialism on political and cultural structures.

Global Conflict

This Pathway examines war, peace, and security on a global and historical scale to reveal the contingent decisions, random accidents, and devious schemes which continue to be at the root of violence around the world. This Pathway studies conflicts great and small, from tribal warfare to national and international wars, revolutions, acts of terrorism, and so on. It also considers successful and unsuccessful efforts to halt conflict, and how and why approaches to and experiences with peace can affect conflict situations.

Wealth and Inequality

This Pathway considers global distribution of people, goods, and money, both in the contemporary world and in deep historical time, examining feudalism, trade, imperialism, nationalism, and the socioeconomic impacts of globalization. Some of the themes on which it focuses include:

  • motivations for and experiences of such human movement as migration, exploration, travel, slavery, diaspora, asylum, and exile;
  • demographic change;
  • poverty, wealth, and economic inequality; and
  • political, social, and cultural incentives for and restrictions on circulation (censorship, translation, free trade, prize culture, protectionism, access, privilege, bias).

Health and Environment

This Pathway considers the direct impact of global issues on the life on our planet. As intercontinental travel makes nearly every epidemic already global today, the more and more the health of individuals is directly connected to the health of the globe. Growing populations, aging demographics, increasing pollution, and decreasing food resources present new challenges for global human health. Similarly the global cycles of climate change and crisis force us to reconsider both natural processes and anthropogenic influences, examining the philosophy and history of human's place in nature. Some of the themes on which this Pathway focuses include:

  • the relationship between local resources and global geopolitics;
  • cultural, economic, and social effects of global climate change;
  • pollution and conservation;
  • environmental movements; and
  • evolution and extinction.

Alternatively, students with a GPA above 3.5 may work with advisers and faculty to create a personalized Pathway that reflects their interests.

The B.S. degree requires six credits in quantitative competencies appropriate to the social sciences. The B.S. degree may include a significant engaged scholarship experience (such as undertaking an internship, job, volunteer position, or period of study) located either abroad or in a majority non-English-speaking part of the United States.

What is Global and International Studies?

The Global and International Studies (GLIS) Program is devoted to understanding human cultures and societies as bounded by “One World”. The GLIS program emphasizes developing a global perspective through scholarly study, research, international communication and experience abroad. The GLIS Program brings together expertise from the Humanities and Social Sciences for an interdisciplinary approach to the global problems facing us.

You Might Like This Program If...

You are concerned about global problems that face everyone and cannot be explained by a single discipline or approach. Our majors and minors are engaged in thinking about the issues of planetary concern from Humanities and Social Science perspectives. If you think laws, economics, social statistics, history, and culture of importance in solving problems like war, starvation, mass migration, and climate change, think about GLIS.

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have at least third-semester classification.


Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Science degree in Global and International Studies, a minimum of 120 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 21-24
Requirements for the Major 57-58

3-6 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 3-6 credits of GQ credits.

Per Senate Policy 83-80.5, the college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of coursework in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

Prescribed Courses
GLIS 101NGlobalization Keystone/General Education Course3
GLIS 102NGlobal Pathways Keystone/General Education Course3
GLIS 400YSeminar in Global and International Studies3
MATH 21College Algebra with Analytic Geometry with Applications I Keystone/General Education Course3
Additional Courses
Select 3-4 credits of the following:3-4
Elementary Statistics in Psychology Keystone/General Education Course
Statistical Concepts and Reasoning Keystone/General Education Course
Elementary Statistics Keystone/General Education Course
Research Methods in Sociology
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Select 21 credits in the Pathway courses 121
Select 21 credits (at least 6 credits at the 400-level) in related areas in consultation with an adviser 221

Lists of the Pathway courses are kept by departmental advisers, and appear online on the program’s website, 15 credits of these 21 will be in a single Pathway concentration (no more than 6 credits towards the Pathway completion are to be from courses in a single department). 6 credits of these 21 are from other Pathway concentrations. At least 12 credits must be taken at the 400 level or higher. These credits do not have to be within a single Pathway.


Related areas include the following:

  • Engineering
  • Business
  • Science
  • Humanities
  • Social Sciences
  • Another area where competency in Global and International Studies is desirable

With approval of the academic adviser and/or the directors of undergraduate studies for the GLIS major, students with equivalent coursework in significant engaged scholarship experience (such as undertaking an internship, job, volunteer position, or period of study) located either abroad or in a majority non-English-speaking part of the United States, may use up to 15 of those credits to substitute for credits in the Pathways.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required and Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Breadth in the Knowledge Domains (Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits

Integrative Studies

  • Inter-Domain Courses (Inter-Domain): 6 credits


  • GN, may be completed with Inter-Domain courses: 3 credits
  • GA, GH, GN, GS, Inter-Domain courses. This may include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the 12th credit level or the requirements for the student’s degree program, whichever is higher: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Integrated B.S. in Global and International Studies and M.I.A. in International Affairs

Requirements for the Integrated B.S. in Global and International Studies and M.I.A. in International Affairs can be found in the Graduate Bulletin.

Program Learning Objectives

  • Content Knowledge: Students will be able to identify and define two or more global issues; and then explain how they influence each other.
  • Comparative Analysis: Students will be able to compare global and international phenomena using a real-world example.
  • Application: Students will be able to interpret and critically analyze how a global issue shapes an individual, local, national, or international outcome from social scientific and humanistic perspectives.
  • Synthesis: Students will able to synthesize the knowledge gained from their global studies through written and oral formats.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Liberal Arts Academic Advising
Use the Liberal Arts Meet the Academic Advisers web page to see the contact information for the specific adviser(s) of this program


The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2023-24 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contains suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Global And International Studies, B.S. at University Park Campus and Commonwealth Campuses

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
GLIS 101N*3GLIS 102N*3
ENGL 15, 30H, ESL 15, ENGL 137H, or CAS 137H3CAS 100, CAS 100A, CAS 100B, CAS 100C, ENGL 138T, or CAS 138T3
Related Course Any Level*3Related Course Any Level*3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
General Education Course3MATH 21*†3
 15 15
Second Year
Major Course from List*3Major Course from List*3
Related Course Any Level*3Related Course Any Level3
General Education Course3STAT 100, 200, SOC 207, or PSYCH 200*3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
General Education Course3Elective3
 15 15
Third Year
Major Course from List*3Related Course Any Level*3
Related Course Any Level*34XX Level Major Course*3
General Education Course34XX Level Major Course*3
General Education Course3ENGL 202A, 202B, 202C, or 202D3
General Education Course3Elective3
 15 15
Fourth Year
4XX Level Major Course*34XX Level Major Course*3
GLIS 400Y*3General Education Course (GHW)1.5
General Education Course (GHW)1.54XX Level Related Area Course3
Writing Across the Curriculum Course3Elective3
 16.5 13.5
Total Credits 120

Course requires a grade of C or better for the major

Course requires a grade of C or better for General Education


Course is an Entrance to Major requirement

Course satisfies General Education and degree requirement

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy Cultural Diversity Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ), Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS) and Integrative Studies (Inter-domain) requirements. N or Q (Honors) is the suffix at the end of a course number used to help identify an Inter-domain course, but the inter-domain attribute is used to fill audit requirements. Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of 'C' or better.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and satisfy a portion of that General Education requirement. If the student’s program prescribes GWS these courses will replace both ENGL 15/ENGL 30H and CAS 100A/CAS 100B/CAS 100C. Each course is 3 credits.

Advising Note:

All incoming freshmen must take a First-Year Seminar (FYS) during Fall or Spring of their first year. Academic advisers can provide a list of FYS being offered and help the student enroll. Most FYS in the College of the Liberal Arts are worth 3 cr. and count as a General Humanities (GH) or General Social Sciences (GS) course. For this reason, the FYS is not listed separately on this eight-semester plan; most students will be able to fulfill the FYS requirement while also fulfilling a GH or GS requirement.

Career Paths

For undergraduates, a Global Studies major offers excellent preparation for careers in government, education, diplomatic service, intelligence analysis, international business and finance, NGOs, and non-profit organizations. Graduates are also prepared for competitive graduate programs in fields as diverse as international law, international development, global education, administration, public policy, and the humanities and social sciences.


Bios of our recent alumni explaining how GLIS fit into their career paths are available on the GLIS website. Their careers include, Account Management in Advertising Technology, International Relocation Services, Social Media Advertising, Regional Policy Officer, State Department, Financial Analyst, Seimens Healthcare, Strategy and Business Development, Senior Director, Strategic Accounts, Teacher, Sales, Gilead Sciences, Office Operations and Facilities, Commissioner’s Office Major League Baseball, Management Consultant in Talent and Organization Strategy at Accenture Federal Services (AFS), Study abroad programs, including IES, and Independent Creative Writer.

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

  • Masters in Global Studies
  • Law School
  • Graduate Work in Economics
  • Political Science
  • Comparative Literature
  • Area Studies


University Park

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University Park, PA 16802