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.

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About Prof. Balas

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

Video and Audio Testimonials

Layla Myers, 2026

Anne Austin, 2025

Victoria Quick, 2024

Jack Gibson, 2020

Tristan, Ross, 2020 (audio only)


Written Testimonials

Layla Myers, 2026

Language: Spanish

Minor: Sociology

Study Abroad: Brussels, Belgium

           As an International Studies major, I feel that I get to learn about the subjects I am truly interested in. My dream has always been to study other cultures, people, concepts, religions etc. IST has allowed me to do that, I often feel the topics I learn about are some of the most important things taught at this campus. I feel the classes I take offer me knowledge that I would not have discovered in another major. I receive different perspectives from diverse demographics of people all around the world. In my foreign language and anthropology classes I learn history that had not been taught to me or anyone I know. This major teaches students that everything is connected throughout history, events taught in one class start to make sense during another. It has made me realize so much about myself, so much about people, about the world. This major allows students to get a better grasp of the world we live in, in my study abroad experience I got to see how the European Union truly functions and all that goes into this decision making on a global scale. This trip also allowed me to be more comfortable in another country by navigating around obstacles presented to us with people I was familiar with. I feel more prepared for the next time I study abroad. I believe this major is an essential part of the Cortland campus community, I have met interesting people, made friends with similar interests and ambitions. I am so grateful for everything IST has given me.

Regan Kaiser, 2025

Foreign Language: Spanish, German

Dual Major: Criminology

Minor: Political Science

Study Abroad: Barcelona, Spain

IST as a major is an experience of growth. You spend your time learning about new kinds of religions, lifestyles, cultures and languages. You even get to meet some really cool people! From international students, international scholars or the wonderful professors almost anyone could find a home within this major. I came to this school focusing on only Pre-Law, and after taking a couple of IST classes for an elective course I completely switched over to a dual major in criminology and international studies to pursue a completely different career path. The passion, care and individuality of both classes and programs offered by the IST department have made my academia so much fun and there is always more to learn! All of the staff in the IST offices and the professors are not only very helpful but are great people too. Another really cool thing about choosing IST is the concentrations, which focus on different topics such as Global Political Systems (which is my concentration) or others such as historical development and area concentrations like Asia or Africa. The powerful tool of knowledge and social wisdom was something I was able to gain from choosing IST and I highly recommend this path for anyone looking to think outside the box, discover themselves or discover what the world has to offer.

 

Victoria Quick, 2024 

Foreign Languages: Spanish, French, Hindi, Kannada

Minor: Outdoor Education and Environmental Interpretation

Study Abroad: Mangalore, India; Brussels, Belgium; Study Away: Hawaii, USA

Switching to the International Studies major was the greatest decision I made during my time at Cortland.  International Studies provides a close community, and safe environment to view life outside of the box you have been born into, while exposing you to expand your view and place in the world. Through international conferences, thoughtful, yet practical courses, and negotiation skills which can be applied to any realm of life, IST prepares you for a future in nearly every career realm out there, both domestically and internationally. From political systems to environmental policy, language, and culture, IST touches on every necessary aspect for understanding the modern world through a lens of history and current events. From my very first class within this major, I instantly felt surrounded by students and professors which supported me, something lacking in the majors I explored prior. I can confidently say, had I not taken a chance on IST, my college experience and post graduate plans would not be filled with expansive elements of international connections, confidence, and trust in the degree to support me along any career path undertake. In today's modern world, it is more important than ever to have a clear understanding of the globe. Whether you have plans to enter the international career field or not, I truly believe International Studies can aid every walk of life and generate a necessary element of clarity on the future. 

Anthony Fridlikh 2024

Foreign Languages: Russian

Minors: Computer Applications, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies 

Study Abroad: Brussels, Belgium

During my time as an IST major, I learned more about the world than I thought possible. You’ll learn how to navigate what’s going on in the world, and how to research & understand complex situations that sometimes are unfolding in real time. You can learn how negotiations are held and decisions are made at the highest levels of government. Being a part of this program also let me participate in Model EU debates that were held in Brussels, which is an experience that taught me many things and I’ll always remember. The IST Major helped prepare me for my future and will prepare you for any career you chose to pursue, having it as a major or minor will be one of the best decisions you’ll make at Cortland.

Lydia Sujkowski, 2023

Languages: French, Spanish

Dual Major(s): Honors Program

""I have always enjoyed learning and experiencing different cultures, so the idea of an international studies degree was something that intrigued me. Upon completing the program, I have a multifaceted understanding of the world-geographically,  socially, and politically. The wide range of concentration options also allowed me to gain further knowledge on topics that were of more interest to me; I close international health and environment. Even though I transferred into the program as a junior, I was able to learn so much- everything from African history to community health and advanced Spanish conversation. The major has given me a stepping stone to take with me as I hope to live and possibly study internationally in the future."

Dalanda Jallow, 2023

Language: Spanish

Minors: Communication Studies and Anthropology

My freshman year at Cortland I began as a pre-major to explore options and determine what major sparked my interest. It wasn't until I found out about the International Studies program that I discovered a field that truly captured my interest. The diversity of the IST major, covering current global issues, international relations, and more, appealed to me. IST offers a broad perspective on different languages and cultures. While my concentration is in international health, taking the IST negotiation and mediation class shifted my focus towards developing negotiation skills and gaining a deeper understanding of how real life conflict resolutions work through simulations, case studies, and real world scenarios. Additionally, we explored topics like conflict resolution theories, and the role of international organizations in mediating disputes. Overall, my experience in the major has provided me with valuable insights into the dynamics of history and world politics which I look forward to applying into my field.

Maria Klara Ventura, 2022

Language: Portuguese; Spanish
Concentration: Culture and Global Development
Minors: Latino Latin American Studies

 During my time in the IST program at SUNY Cortland, I learned so many valuable skills that I have used in the past year and a half. While in the program I had such a good experience because the small department allowed me to really feel connected and heard. I got to create amazing friendship and connections. 

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

In IST at Cortland, I found a program that combined a rigorous and thorough study of the history and structures of our modern internationalized world with the freedom and support to pursue creative and cutting-edge new directions in my research and study. I was introduced not only to important principles and foundations of the different fields that International Studies touches but enjoyed the freedom to explore the intersections of multiple fields of interest to me, such as international education and intercultural competence, computer-mediated education and virtual exchange, or cultural and linguistic evolution of areas of particular interest to me such as South Asia. Encouragement and support from within the program were instrumental in me enrolling in the honors program, conducting independent research as an undergrad, taking courses at Cornell, and pursuing my graduate degree at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Exposure to diverse topics outside my areas of immediate interest - including economics, negotiation, multiple area studies courses, and even participating the model European Union debate in New York City - helped me to gain a perspective on world events I would not otherwise be able to leverage, something that has been useful to me in my career and in my communications and dealings with all kinds of people. I have since had the opportunity to work for nonprofits in the international education space such as One Globe Kids, and I have continued studying languages like Nepali, Hindi, and Tamil. My current work as an Instructional Designer of Emerging Technologies allows me to explore the cutting edge of using technological modalities such as virtual reality, digital fabrication, and artificial intelligence for enhancing educational engagement and outcomes.

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. 

Jack Gibson, 2020
Languages: French
Minor: Asian/Middle Eastern Studies & Political Science
Study Abroad: Projects Abroad - Rabat, Morocco
The International Studies Program (IST) presents students with several challenges that provide skills for successful careers. Notably, the program challenges you to learn or improve foreign language skills. You will have the opportunity to use these languages as part of a study-abroad program or in a professional setting. In my case, learning French allowed me to intern at a Moroccan human rights organization in Rabat, Morocco for college credit. The skills gained from IST provided me with the requisite skills to pursue a lucrative career in public service.

 

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.

 

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. 

 

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!

Welly Ekoumilong, 2016

Language: French

Minor: Political Science 

The International Studies major broadened my knowledge of the world. It taught me to open my eyes to the outside world. I learned about the EU. I took a course on international health and it taught me about international population health and how that impacts different populations of people. I also learned how to analyze information from a global perspective. We learned the importance of staying up to date on global affairs. 

  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.


Clubs/Societies

  • International Awareness Club
  • Model United Nations Club