The International Relations Department offers rigorous courses with the flexibility to pursue your fascination for world affairs and train for post-graduate careers. Courses within the curriculum provide an interdisciplinary foundation while you dive deep on a thematic track in:

  • global security and diplomacy
  • political economy and development
  • politics, culture and identity
  • transnational issues and cooperation

Student SpotlightRafael Aguilar '25

major: International relations
minor: Environmental studies 

"I entered the International Relations program with a general interest in global affairs and it has wonderfully transformed my academic and personal life. The HWS professors are passionate about their work and committed to helping students gain the insight and tools for analyzing social, political and economic dynamics. Thanks to the program, I have developed my public speaking skills and argumentative work with both independent and collaborative projects. I have been able to participate in summer research with Professor of International Relations Stacey Philbrick Yadav, analyzing knowledge production in conflict-affected areas.”


Experiential EducationThe Talk of the World

Work on a podcast about world affairs or attend lectures on globalization hosted by the Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice.

At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, learning goes beyond textbooks and classrooms. You’ll gain high-impact practical experience that deepens learning and opens doors.


Amplify your International Relations degree with the skills, knowledge and ethical foundation needed to be a leader in the 21st century. In partnership with the Centennial Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, our department offers the opportunity to engage in leadership development that culminates in a degree with leadership distinction and provides a competitive edge when applying to internships, jobs and graduate or professional school.

To graduate with leadership distinction, you will complete a series of foundational, action-oriented and reflective milestones within the International Relations and Leadership curriculum. We encourage you to begin your leadership journey as early as your second semester on campus. 


No Borders:Global Education

Explore racial identity in Brazil, study political relations in Tunisia or gain insight into the European Union in Germany.

Wherever you go, our top-ranked global education program will allow you to apply classroom knowledge, develop cultural understanding and build global connections that expand your personal capacity and sense of purpose.





And Research

International Relations students looking to engage more in their work can study and complete Honors and research projects in a chosen topic with the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Past examples of Honors projects include:

  • Grant A. J. Emerson ’20: Identity and the Foreign Policy Decision-Making Process: Analyzing U.S. Foreign Policy in Cuba from 1959 to 1963
    Kevin Dunn, Adviser
  • Mike F. Goulart, ’20: Political Institutions, Corruption, and their Economic Implications: An Institutional Analysis of Brazil
    Vikash Yadav, Adviser
  • Lawson MacDougall ’20: An Assessment of Canada’s Position in a Global Economy
    Vikash Yadav, Adviser
  • Katherine Eleanor Howard ’19: How Myth Frames U.S. Foreign Intervention Decisions
    Richard Salter, Adviser
  • Julia R. Sipos ’18: Manufactured Consent: The Role of Women in the Construction of Middle-Class Complicity During the Dirty War in Argentina (1976-1983)
    Colby Ristow, Adviser

Through multiple lenses – geopolitical, economic and historic, among others – explore the theories, aspects and effects of how countries interact with one another.


Build a foundation in the basic concepts of world politics, an appreciation of the evolution of the current state system and a sampling of various approaches and theories.


Build on your economics understanding by learning of international trade concepts like the theory of gains from trade and comparative advantage to discover how with an emphasis on how economic and financial relations among countries have very different consequences for different groups of people.


Begin your journey into the Arabic language and Arab cultures.

Alum ImpactMentoringSuccess

freya birkas-dent '22
masters of public policy candidate at the university of virginia 

"HWS' opportunities for mentorship through faculty, staff, coaches have allowed me to grow immensely as a student and individual, giving me the tools to communicate, lead and serve."



  • Bank of America
  • Bennett and Belfort, P.C.
  • Freedom House
  • International Food Policy Research Institute
  • J.P. Morgan
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Neiman Marcus Group
  • Nova Group
  • Pakistan-China Institute
  • Peace Corps
  • Shell Oil Company Foundation


  • Albany Law School
  • American University
  • Boston College Law
  • Georgetown University
  • Harvard Law
  • Maxwell School at Syracuse University
  • New York University School of Economics
  • Northeastern University School of Law
  • Northwestern University School of Law
  • Syracuse Law School
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pittsburgh Law School
  • University of Rochester
  • Widener University of Law