B.A. in Global & International Studies

Four students stand in front of the campanile

Program Details

A degree in GIST will give you the tools to understand the rapid changes occurring internationally and transnationally throughout the world. In our interdisciplinary program, faculty and students think critically about some of the most fundamental global and regional issues facing societies today such as:

  • population growth,
  • politics and governance,
  • migration,
  • the global economy,
  • poverty and inequality,
  • religion, race and ethnicity,
  • gender and sexuality,
  • peace and conflict, and
  • climate change.

Students in the Global & International Studies B.A. program pursue the same general path of study. They take six hours of introductory core courses of skills and knowledge and then a collection of electives on global and regional topics. GIST students also take one language class in addition to the four semesters required by KU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Finally, the GIST B.A. culminates in two capstone courses where students produce a senior research thesis while learning tools for research methods and analytical writing.

Students are able to choose from 4 different concentrations within the program. These paths include:

  1. Global & International Concentration
  2. European Concentration
  3. Latin American & Caribbean Concentration
  4. Middle East Concentration

Since our major includes nine credit hours that can easily double up as general or core requirements in the first two years (and count toward the degree requirements in other programs), the flexibility to do a double-major and/or an additional minor with your GIST major is highly encouraged.

Besides access to quality instruction and content, our students have access to the amazing international resources that put KU on the top shelf for international education--a nationally-ranked Study Abroad Program, instruction in 40 foreign languages, and local, national, and international internship opportunities.

After graduation, a degree in GIST is helpful for careers in journalism, Foreign Service, business and industry, education, law, politics and government, and social service agencies.

The specific requirements of the GIST BA depend upon the concentration chosen by the student. GIST offers four concentrations. The Global and International concentration offers the greatest flexibility for languages and coursework as no specialization of either is required. For students who wish to focus on the specific regions of Europe, Latin America & Caribbean, or the Middle East, the concentrations offer a more focused design of coursework for language and electives. Below are summaries of the concentration requirements. Specific classes and more details can be found by clicking on each link.

Global & International Concentration

  • Core Knowledge and Skills (6 Hours)
  • Additional Language (3-5 Hours)
  • Capstone Coursework (6 Hours)
  • Issues In Global Studies (9 Hours): These will focus upon  contemporary global themes such as human trafficking, the global environment, terrorism, transnational migration and borders, global issues in gender, citizenship, indigenous peoples, the global economic system, and globalization.
  • International Electives (9 Hours): Students are strongly encouraged to strategically select a cluster of three courses that would help them to fulfill KU Core requirements or maximize a double-major with another program.
  • See BA Global & International Concentration for details.

European Concentration

  • Core Knowledge and Skills (9 Hours)
  • Additional Language (3-5 Hours): All language study must be in modern western European languages (e.g. French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Spanish).
  • Capstone Coursework (6 Hours)
  • Upper-Division General European Electives (6 Hours)
  • Upper-Division National or Regional Electives (9 Hours)
  • See BA European Concentration for details.

Latin American & Caribbean Concentration

  • Core Knowledge and Skills (9 hours)
  • Additional Language (3-5 hours): All language study must be in Latin American Caribbean languages (e.g. Spanish, Portuguese, or Indigenous Latin American Languages).
  • Capstone Research Coursework (6 hours)
  • Upper-Division Latin American and Caribbean Electives (9 hours)
  • Upper-Division Interdisciplinary Electives (6 hours)
  • See BA Latin American & Caribbean Concentration for details.

Middle East Concentration

  • Core Knowledge and Skills (6 hours)
  • Additional Language (3-5 hours): All language study must be in Middle East languages (e.g. Arabic, Turkish, Persian, or Hebrew).
  • Capstone Research Coursework (6 hours)
  • Upper-Division Concentration Electives (9 hours)
  • Upper-Division Interdisciplinary Electives (9 hours)
  • See BA Middle East Concentration for details.

Important Notes

  • Regardless of the Concentration, while completing all required courses, majors must also meet each of the following hour and grade-point average minimum standards:
  • Major Hours: Satisfied by 11 units (minimum of 33 credit hours) of major courses.
  • Overlapping Courses: Students in the GIST major can overlap relevant coursework with other programs; however, in order to ensure interdisciplinary breadth, they can only take up to 5 courses offered or cross-listed by any single other academic program.
  • Major Hours in Residence: Satisfied by a minimum of 15 hours of KU resident credit in the major.
  • Major Junior/Senior Hours: Satisfied by a minimum of 21 hours from junior/senior courses (300+) in the major.
  • Major Junior/Senior Graduation GPA: Satisfied by a minimum of a 2.0 KU GPA in junior/senior courses (300+) in the major. GPA calculations include all junior/senior courses in the field of study including F’s and repeated courses. See the Semester/Cumulative GPA Calculator.

To graduate with departmental honors in Global and International Studies, students must complete all requirements for the major plus GIST 699 Honors Capstone with a 3.5 grade-point average in the major. The honors seminar allows students to receive research assistance from three-member faculty committee while writing their theses. Each student will defend their honor's thesis in an oral examination before their thesis committee. The student's committee includes the GIST 699 Honors Capstone instructor and two university faculty members the student chooses with the assistance of the instructor.

Brian Lagotte

Director, GIST Undergraduate Studies



Bailey Hall, 215

Nicholas Pellett

Academic Advisor, GIST Undergraduate Program

Jayhawk Academic Advising



Bailey Hall, 205D

We are happy you are interested in our program. We encourage you to contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Brian Lagotte, at lagotte@ku.edu, to speak about the program and your interests. If you are ready to declare a major in GIST, please make an appointment with GIST Academic Advisor, Nicholas Pellett, at npellett@ku.edu.

Choose a Concentration within the GIST BA

Numerous flags of countries flying in the wind

Global & International

-offers the greatest flexibility regarding coursework and language learning.
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany


-allows students to focus on issues and languages pertaining to Europe and the European Union.
City of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

Latin America & Caribbean

-enables students to focus on issues and languages of the region. See also KU's Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies.
Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Middle East

-allows students to focus research on the Middle East and learn its languages.