Global Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

As interactions between states, societies, and cultures increase, so do the responses to these interactions multiply. The Global Studies major allows students to explore such interactions and their outcomes. By bringing in both historical and contemporary material, the major provides students with the tools that they need in order to make sense of the world in which they live—as well as understanding how it got to be that way. Students pursuing an undergraduate degree in global studies will engage in thinking critically about how global change has (and can) come about during their lifetimes. The major aims to have students focus on relevant issues to them in a way that provides intellectual flexibility. The major will offer solid training in how to use acquired knowledge to become agents of positive change on the global issues that matter most to people here, and elsewhere around the world. 

Global Studies Major

The Global Studies major requires students to choose a concentration and a geographic region in which to become an expert. It connects this regional specialization to language training. Global Studies majors will choose one of three concentrations: (1) Global Development, (2) Global Peace and Conflict, or (3) Global Societies and Cultures. This will allow students to focus their studies on a specific aspect of the “global.” At the same time, those pursuing this major will choose one of five regions (Asia, Africa, Europe/Russia, The Americas or the Middle East) in which to specialize, both in terms of content and language. In doing so, students have an opportunity to become an expert in a specific region, especially as it relates to larger questions that arise from global interaction. In addition, the major requires training in critical thinking—that is how to study a particular problem in a consistent and rigorous way. Students will work with faculty and the Global Studies advisors to devise a program that best captures their interests and allows them to reach their intellectual and professional potentials.

Global Studies - High-Demand Major in L&S

For first-year students applying to Berkeley Letters & Science, admission into the Global Studies major will be guaranteed to those who selected Global Studies as their primary major on their UC Berkeley admissions application. Students are guaranteed a spot in the Global Studies major, subject to completing the major prerequisites, maintaining good academic standing in L&S, and filing a declaration form. The opportunities for being admitted into the Global Studies major after enrollment at UC Berkeley will be extremely limited, and applying to the Global Studies major via the comprehensive review process does not guarantee a spot in the major. If you have an interest in the Global Studies major, we strongly encourage you to select Global Studies as your primary major during the UC application process. If you opt to change to the Global Studies major after being admitted to Berkeley, you will be required to have an alternate plan to declare a non-high demand major as a back-up. For more information on the high-demand major policy please visit the "Admissions" page for the College of Letters and Science on the Berkeley Academic Guide.

Global Studies Minor

The minor in Global Studies provides an opportunity to study one of five regions of the world within the context of Globalization: (1) Europe and Russia; (2) Africa, North and Sub-Saharan; (3) The Americas; (4) The Middle East and North Africa; (5) Asia.

Visit Program Website

Major Requirements

Repeat Rule

Students who earn a grade of F, D-, D, D+ or NP may repeat the course only once. Regardless of the grade, the student receives for their second attempt (including F, D-, D or D+), the student may not repeat the course a third time.

Lower Division Requirements

The five required lower division courses must all be taken for a letter grade.

GLOBAL 10AIntroduction to Global Studies 14
GLOBAL 10BCritical Issues in Global Studies3
GLOBAL 45Survey of World History 24
Select one course in economics from the following:
ECON 1Introduction to Economics4
ECON 2Introduction to Economics--Lecture Format4
Select one course in statistics from the following:
STAT 2Introduction to Statistics4
STAT C8Foundations of Data Science4
STAT 20Introduction to Probability and Statistics4
STAT 21Introductory Probability and Statistics for Business4
STAT W21Introductory Probability and Statistics for Business4

This must be completed with a grade of C or better prior to declaring the major. A grade of C- does not satisfy this requirement. Note: this requirement may be repeated only once to achieve a grade of C or better. 


This class must be completed with a grade of B- or higher on the first attempt. Students who do not earn this grade are ineligible for the Global Studies major. 

Foreign Language Requirement

Global Studies majors must demonstrate proficiency in a modern language other than English by the last semester of their senior year. This language must be connected, in either the past or the present, to the student’s geographic region of specialization. Proficiency is equivalent to the ability achieved in four college-level semesters (or two years). Language courses taken in high school do not satisfy this requirement. See below for details on how to fulfill the foreign language requirement.

Note:  languages accepted by the College of Letters & Science are not automatically accepted by the Global Studies major. Please check with an adviser for eligible languages.

How to fulfill the foreign language requirement

There are a variety of ways to fulfill the four-semester language requirement for Global Studies, depending on the individual and his or her background and ability. 

Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) test: An AP score of 5 or an International Baccalaureate (IB) score of 7 will complete this requirement. An AP score of 4 should generally place a student into the fourth-semester college-level course. A score of 3 will place a student into the third-semester college-level course. Documentation of AP scores must be provided. 

Coursework:  Any combination of college courses, summer programs, or college-level study abroad programs can satisfy the language requirement. At a minimum, students must complete the fourth semester (i.e., the second semester of intermediate level) of a language with a grade of C- or better in order to fulfill the requirement. The first, second, and third-semester courses may be taken on a Pass/No Pass basis.

Language courses need not be taken at UCB. Courses taken at a community college or any accredited school or university may be acceptable. Transcripts must be submitted and evaluated by an adviser. A one-semester upper division course taken abroad in the target language may satisfy the foreign language requirement, depending on the school and program followed. For more information, see an adviser concerning language study abroad.

High school completion in a non-English language and Proficiency Tests:  Students with native, advanced background or those who were educated in a non-English language through the completion of high school or the equivalent may wish to satisfy this requirement with that experience. This requires a language proficiency exam. Moreover, it limits the geographic focus within global studies, because it must be connected to language. This is not especially recommended, as it limits what students within the major can study. 

Chinese, Japanese, and Korean proficiency exams are administered by East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC) in the week before instruction starts every semester. Check the EALC website at Results of the exam will indicate the level of the foreign language that students are eligible to register for. In order to waive the language requirement, test results must show that the student has completed the equivalent of four semesters of language studies (end of intermediate level) or higher.   

Note: EALC waitlists all students that register for language courses regardless of when registration takes place, and the department scheduler adjusts student enrollment based on the results of the placement exam during the first week of instruction.  

Students planning to take a proficiency exam in a non-Asian language in order to waive the language requirement should consult with a Global Studies adviser. Proficiency tests may be taken once per semester.

Upper Division Requirements

Eight courses divided into two categories: All courses must be taken for a letter grade. It is worth noting here, as elsewhere, that the student’s language training should match up with the particular world region on which the student has decided to focus. 

Core Courses (4)
Select one concentration course: GLOBAL 100D for Global Development, GLOBAL 100P for Global Peace & Conflict and GLOBAL 100S for Global Societies and Cultures. This course provides an introduction to the concentration field and exposes students to the relevant theoretical, historical, and contemporary literature for that concentration.
Disciplinary Courses: Choose two courses from the same disciplinary area for your concentration. These should be selected from the Disciplinary Course List (Appendices A1-A3 in the Global Studies handbook). The courses wherever possible should speak to each other about a particular problem or approach in which you are interested.
Critical Thinking Class/Methodology. We strongly suggest that you take GLOBAL/IAS 102 in your sophomore or very early in your junior year. This class provides a foundation for how to engage and understand a variety of sources and issues within the field of global studies. Students and faculty alike report improved student learning as a result of taking this class early in one’s college career. Other approved courses can be found in Appendix C.
Geographic Focus (4)
Students must enroll in one of these classes, which provide a broad overview of a particular region in its modern global context. It must match the rest of the student’s geographic focus.
GLOBAL 110E (Europe and Russia)
GLOBAL 110K (Africa, North and Sub-Saharan)
GLOBAL 110L (Latin America)
GLOBAL 110M (Middle East and North Africa)
Three courses that focus on the same region, which can be selected from Appendices B1-B3 of the Global Studies Handbook. These courses should also be able to converse with one another about a specific area of interest.

Major Rules       

1. No more than 3 upper-division courses taken off of the UC Berkeley campus, including courses taken at other universities, EAP, and Study Abroad, may count towards major requirements.  (Courses taken at UCDC are the one exception to this rule.)

2. No more than 3 upper division courses may be taken from the same department.

3. A cross-listed course will not always count in the department through which a student is enrolled. It will count in what is known to be the originating department of the course. Students who intend to enroll in a cross-listed course and to apply the course toward an upper division major requirement should see an advisor prior to enrolling.

4. Courses cannot be double-counted within the major (for example, students may not use the same course to fulfill both a Critical Thinking course and a Geographic Focus course requirement).

5. All courses in the major must be taken for a letter grade. The one exception is foreign language: only the fourth-semester level class must be taken for a letter grade. The first, second, and third-semester language classes may be taken Pass/Not Pass.

6. Online courses are not accepted in the major (STAT W21 is the one exception to this rule).

Minor Requirements

The minor in Global Studies provides an opportunity to study one of five regions of the world within the context of Globalization:

  1. Europe and Russia
  2. Africa, North and Sub-Saharan
  3. The Americas
  4. The Middle East and North Africa
  5. Asia

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared before the first day of classes in your Expected Graduation Term (EGT). For summer graduates, minors must be declared prior to the first day of Summer Session A. 

  2. All upper-division courses must be taken for a letter grade. 

  3. A minimum of three of the upper-division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.

  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required in the upper-division courses to fulfill the minor requirements.

  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.

  6. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.

  7. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which the student plans to graduate. If students cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, they should see a College of Letters & Science adviser.

  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)

Completing the Minor

To apply for the minor, students must have completed at least one course for the minor at UCB with a grade of B or better, or have completed at least two courses for the minor (not necessarily at UCB) with a minimum GPA of 2.0, and not be in the final semester of undergraduate work. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year during the spring, summer and fall semesters. 

Minor Rules:

  • No more than two courses may be taken from the same department
  • All courses counting for the minor must be taken for a letter grade
  • A minimum of three courses must be taken at UC Berkeley. All transfer courses must be approved by an advisor
  • GLOBAL 197, 198 and 199 cannot be used to fulfill minor requirements
  • A minimum GPA of 2.0 must be achieved in all course work used to satisfy the minor requirements
  • Only one course can count for both a major and a minor

A complete Global Studies minor application consists of:

Upper Division Requirements

Five courses are required to complete the Global Studies Minor:

  • Choose one Disciplinary course (Appendices A1-A3 in the Global Studies handbook).
  • Choose one of the required area courses in your region:
  • Choose any three courses that align with your chosen region from either Appendix B1, B2 or B3 in the Global Studies handbook. The three courses you choose must be from the same region, but may from any of the B appendices. (For example, one course from appendix B1 and two courses from appendix B2.)

Student Learning Goals

Learning Goals for the Major

1) Acquire historical and geographical knowledge, and develop language skills;

2) Develop strong interdisciplinary training, gaining control over key concepts in the social sciences and/or the humanities (see below);

3) Apply an interdisciplinary approach to the study of contemporary global issues;

4) Demonstrate analytical skills, as well as those in critical reading and writing, through research; and

5) Synthesize the ways in which local circumstances influence global events, and vice-versa. 

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the Global Studies Major Map PDF.


Global Studies
101 Stephens Hall
Phone: 510-642-1738
Fax: 510-642-9850

Please make an appointment through CalCentral to see a Global Studies advisor. 

Academic Opportunities

Study Abroad

Students may fulfill up to 3 upper division requirements with courses taken abroad. Any courses taken to fulfill the language requirement may also be counted toward the major and are not included in the 3-course limit. Students considering study abroad should carefully read the “Study Abroad Information and Course Approval Form,” which is available at the Global Studies Office and on the Student Resources page at the website  Students must also meet with a Global Studies adviser prior to their departure to review prospective courses of study and again upon their return to have their coursework reviewed and approved. Information about overseas study is available at the Berkeley Programs for Study Abroad office in 160 Stephens Hall, 510-642-1356,

Please note: Study abroad courses will not be pre-approved by Global Studies to count toward the major requirements. 

Related Courses

Contact Information

Global Studies

101 Stephens Hall

Phone: 510-642-1738

Fax: 510-642-9850

Visit Program Website

Professor, Geography, Director, Global Studies

You-tien Hsing

545 McCone Hall

Undergraduate Academic Advisor

Nithya Raghunathan

101 Stephens Hall

Phone: 510-643-7282

Graduate Student Affairs Officer, Undergraduate Academic Advisor

Dreux Montgomery

101 Stephens Hall

Phone: 510-643-4157

Academic Advisor

Alex Maurice

101 Stephens Hall

Phone: (510) 643-4159

Back to Top