International Studies

The world is more “inter-national” and interconnected than ever, and knowledge of other people and cultures is an asset. SUNY Cortland’s international studies program offers outstanding preparation for success in today’s globally interdependent world.

This unique interdisciplinary program grounds international understanding in the context of a strong liberal arts education. You will explore political, economic and social structures of various countries and regions while examining the pressing challenges of today and gaining insight into the historical events that contributed to them.

Cortland offers you dozens of study abroad programs across five continents in addition to hundreds of other opportunities available through our partner institutions.

A Cortland international studies degree puts the world at your doorstep. Our graduates work in international business and law, with government agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Here is a video with some basic information about the International Studies Program from the Coordinator of the Program, Prof. Alexandru Balas.


About Prof. Balas

This is what some of our Alumni have to say about International Studies as their major:

Melissa Alvisi, 2022

Language: Spanish, Italian
Concentration: Global Economic Systems
Minors: Economics, Political Science
Study Abroad: Sevilla, Spain; Brussels, Belgium

 IST is a major that touches different topics, aiming to have the students become more interested and involved in what is "outside": what goes on in the world, why many countries have different political systems, and why they act the way they do, considering their history and culture. IST is the perfect balance between theoretical and practical learning, because through their assignments, students gain the "reading key" of current events, understanding international trade, economics, and politics. IST made me think out of the box and realize how accents people have, history, traditions, have an imprint on all of us. After taking part to negotiation exercises, simulations of EU commission meetings, I understood why many factors need to be considered when it comes to making a decision, especially when it will affect not only a state, a country, but a whole union, a continent, future negotiations, and so on. Choosing IST as a program gives you also the tools to choose a concentration, a minor also, depending on what you would want to focus on for a future career, which is something not all majors have. Personally, my interest in International Studies made me want to learn a third language, as well as pick two minors, so I would say the professor guide you through all the chances you have. I now understand that it is fundamental to have a broader view of the world, and for instance learning another language could be a useful skill in the future. 


Jennifer Toribio, 2022
Language: French, Spanish
Concentration: Culture and Global Development
Study Abroad: Soliya – virtual, synchronous interactions with students in Middle East, India, and Europe; Brussels, Belgium

 Being a part of the International Studies program has allowed me to excel academically and socially. The program welcomed me into a world first community that let me adapt into college quickly. Academically, the small classes allowed me to connect with my professors and learn more efficiently. It also has given me wonderful opportunities to attend conferences, such as the Model European Union. Besides increasing my global knowledge it gave me the opportunity to travel to Brussels with classmates I know consider close friends. 


Naomi Higgins, 2021
Language: French, Spanish
Concentration: Global Economic Systems
Minor: Peace and Conflict Studies, Political Science
Study Abroad: Ireland

 As a SUNY Cortland junior, I feel like my major has had the most positive effect on my college experience. The International Studies major, and community because that is what it has evolved into for me, I have taken courses that have taught me more in a 15 week period than classes I took for an entire year in high school. One of my favorite classes I have taken so far was Model European Union. This is a class that is open to all students, as we learn about the intricacies of the European Union, we also prepared for a Student Summit in Brussels, Belgium to be held in January 2020. IST has prompted me to study abroad, in Cork, Ireland, during the Spring of 2019 and pursue many of my travel dreams, while inspiring many more!

Tristan Ross, 2020
Language: Nepali, German, Spanish
Concentration: Culture and Global Development
Minor: Computer Applications

 Over three years at Cortland, I found the International Studies programs’ curriculum to be rigorous and comprehensive. It is really designed for students who are serious about challenging themselves and one another to develop a more nuanced and scholarly understanding of the international systems that underpin our modern world. The student cohort I worked alongside was very international, diverse in their interests, and really skilled. Although the program kept me plenty busy, it also offered many unique events and opportunities to bond with and learn from my fellow students. (As a transfer student, I find it hard to believe that all those memories could have been made in just three years!) The faculty are accomplished, friendly, and very willing to work with you. If you’re looking for an unparalleled opportunity to prepare yourself for an internationalized career, I highly recommend International Studies at Cortland.


Hannah Falk, 2020
Language: French, German, Spanish
Concentration: Global Political Science
Minor: Political Science
Study Abroad: Ireland; Brussels, Belgium (twice)

 I could not recommend enough the IST program at SUNY Cortland. Starting off in the World First learning community helped me meet some of my best friends. Because it is a smaller major at Cortland, you really get to know your colleagues! The professors are always extremely helpful and often pass on great opportunities to you to further your academic career. I have learned so many interesting things like negotiating, world history and politics, anthropology of gender, and my favorite- the

European Union! Studying abroad is highly encouraged and through the SUNY system there are so many places to go. You are not just confined to SUNY Cortland programs. I studied abroad in Limerick, Ireland through SUNY New Paltz. While abroad, I joined the sailing and surf team. I went to Spain with some other members of the sailing team, where we sailed for a week. A lot of the trip cost was covered by the club, so it was really cheap! The highlight of my time in the IST program at SUNY Cortland would be joining model European Union. I was able to go to Brussels, Belgium twice and New York City twice for a European Union simulation. I learned many things about negotiating and the European Union that I would not have been able to learn in just a classroom setting.


Kelsilyn Norman, 2020
Language: French, Spanish
Concentration: Europe
Triple Major: Spanish, French
Study Abroad: France, Spain, Brussels, Belgium

 Adding a major in International Studies was of the best decisions I have made during my time at SUNY Cortland. One of the best features of this program is that within the chosen concentration, you have a large selection of classes to choose from, allowing for a program specialized to your specific interests within the field. The classes can be challenging, but the content covered is really interesting, and the classes are engaging. This program also easily permits (and encourages) studying abroad to enhance learning and world experience. Overall, I really enjoyed the classes I took and the many experiences I shared with other IST students, and I am looking forward to continuing on with my studies in this field. 


Alexandra Cicero, 2019

Languages: Spanish
Concentration: Global Political Systems
Dual Major: Communications
Study Abroad: Babes Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Alexandra notes:

Being an IST major at Cortland is being part of a major like no other. The best part of the major along with the topic is the people. Not only are the faculty welcoming, well-travelled, and globally competent, but the students who choose to be IST majors are open-minded and eager to see what the courses and world has to offer. The courses are always relevant to other courses, even outside of the major, and current events. Right now, I'm studying abroad in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. I never thought I'd end up anywhere near where I am now, but thanks to the knowledge and support of my professors, I came across this program and I'm having a fantastic time. 


Allison Chandler, 2020

Language:  Spanish
Concentration: Global Economic Systems

Studied Abroad:  Indonesia

 I decided to become an International Studies major after my trip to Japan in high school. I became very interested in learning about other cultures. It was difficult to find a college that had International Studies as a major because most colleges only have International Relations, which heavily studies political science. At SUNY Cortland an International Studies major takes classes in language, culture, history, anthropology and political science. I have studied abroad in Indonesia as a freshman, which is somewhat difficult to do in any other major. It was incredible to go to Indonesia and learn what it is like first hand. In class, I learned a lot about the history of Indonesia, so it helped me have a basis of knowing about the country. Studying abroad was an amazing experience. I hope to continue being an IST major and study abroad again in the future. 

Elianna Bodnar, 2020

Languages: French
Concentration: Global Economic Development
Study Abroad: Bali, Indonesia, Yogyakarta, Indonesia & Paris, France

 I chose to be an International Studies major simply because I am fascinated with our world. There are so many amazing cultures spread across it and such intricate history behind it. The SUNY Cortland staff passionately works to diversify and educate their students, to shape them as critical thinkers and understand the world around us beyond what the media portrays. I had the honor of studying Arts and Social Movements in Indonesia, January of 2017. It was the most humbling experience, one in which not only did I see the world in a new light but myself as well. I highly encourage the IST program at SUNY Cortland to anyone interested in the past, present and future of the world and its nations.


Maya Zaynetdinova, 2017
Languages: Russian
Concentration: Global Economic Development
Study Abroad: Moscow, Russia

  Being an international student, I knew that the International Studies is the perfect match for me, and I was not mistaken. This major broadened my horizons and sparked my interest in the international development. Never before was I so thrilled to attend classes, for the IST department offers a wide range of exciting and engaging courses that make you understand how historic events influenced the current global tendencies, why we are experiencing the immigration crisis and what future developments await the global community. IST classes also offer practical applications, such as international negotiations and role-play simulations. You will master a foreign language and become a truly global citizen with the help of incredibly caring and diverse faculty of the IST department. Living in a globalized world, it is vital to comprehend global affairs – the IST major provides this unique opportunity.  

Stephanie Offutt, 2017

Language(s): Arabic & Spanish
Concentration: Global Political Systems
Dual Major: Anthropology
Minors: Spanish & Asian/Middle Eastern Studies

Study Abroad: Mexico, Turkey

 I love my major. Being an International Studies major has humbled me, but also made me more aware of the world. In each class I explore new cultures and relevant topics in the international system. As an IST major, I have skills in research, negotiation and critically analyzing current events. Not to mention, my major has led me to participate in exciting new experiences- like studying abroad in Mexico and Turkey!

  Jonathan Moore, 2016

Language(s): Spanish
Concentration: International Health
Minors: Public Policy and Anthropology
Study Abroad: Belize (internship)

 I think that a degree in International Studies prepares students to improve our globalized society. The faculty works closely with students to educate, discuss, and plan for the future of our world. One great thing about the International Studies program at SUNY Cortland is the abundance of international events on campus. These events expand our knowledge and allow us to network with experts in the field from around the world.‚Äč


Kayla Douglas, 2015

Languages: French
Concentration: International Health/Environment
Dual Major: French; Minor: Asian Studies
Study Abroad: La Rochelle, France; Grenoble, France; Mangalore, India

 I chose SUNY Cortland specifically for its unique International Studies program.  This major is run by an extremely attentive team of faculty who truly care about fostering relationships with their students and helping them succeed.  In addition to the opportunity to take intellectually-stimulating classes on the Cortland campus, IST majors are fortunate to have great flexibility in fulfilling course requirements abroad.  Additionally, I was part of the first group of students studying in Mangalore, India under a new study abroad program designed by my advisor during the spring of my senior year.  I feel that this program has fully prepared me to forge a path in the international career field.


  • International Awareness Club
  • Model United Nations Club