Concentrate on International Affairs

By Elizabeth Gerke

Hi! My name is Elizabeth Gerke and I am a sophomore majoring in International Affairs with a concentration in Contemporary Cultures and Societies.  I am also majoring in Philosophy-Public Affairs and minoring in Applied Ethics.  I have recently joined the peer advising team here at the Elliott School and I love it.  I hope that my take on how to pick an International Affairs concentration will be helpful and stress-relieving!

The first thing that I recommend is to become familiar with the options available to you as an Elliott School student. The concentrations are listed online at the Elliott School website under the International Affairs major. The potential concentrations are divided into two groups: functional and regional. Regional group concentrations focus on geographic areas of the world and functional group concentrations focus on specific themes of international affairs that students can make their area of expertise.

From here you can decide if you want to focus in a world region or a functional group.  Are you especially interested in Latin America, the Middle East or Asia?  Africa and Europe/Eurasia are also potential concentrations here. If you can’t seem to decide on one portion of the world (or you would just prefer not to), then you should consider the functional group concentrations. These include Conflict & Security, International Economics, International Politics, Global Public Health and my concentration: Contemporary Cultures and Societies. For the full list of functional group concentrations please take a look at the website.

Each concentration requires that you take five courses out of those listed. Some concentrations have prerequisites recommended at the beginning of the course list as they are needed for many of the other courses listed below.  For your concentration to be considered complete, you must take courses from at least 2 different departments. One of the five courses that you take may be double-counted between your major and concentration requirements. Your concentration must be declared using the Group Concentration Form no later than the first semester of your junior year. This means that if you are considering studying abroad during your junior year, you should consider declaring your concentration your sophomore year. The form is simple to fill out and only takes about ten minutes.

I hope this guide to picking a concentration was helpful for you! If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask a peer advisor at

Elizabeth is a sophomore majoring in International Affairs with a concentration in Contemporary Cultures and Societies.  She is also pursuing a second major in Philosophy-Public Affairs and a minor in Applied Ethics.


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