UMass Amherst Department of Political Science

International Relations Certificate

The International Relations Certificate is sponsored by the Political Science Department and the Five College Consortium, which is comprised of the University of Massachusetts, Hampshire College, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College. 

In order to receive credit for the Certificate, you must receive an honors grade of B or higher.

The Certificate can be combined with any undergraduate major, and is a way of indicating to graduate schools or future employers that you have strong interest in world affairs. Earning the certificate requires demonstrating intermediate level competence in a contemporary foreign language and earning at least a B in each of 7 courses on world politics and institutions, the international economy, the history of the international system, US foreign policy, and the politics, history, economy, or culture of one or more foreign areas. The Certificate can be used to satisfy the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences' Global Education Requirement.



 *Please note: the courses listed on the Five College website are not up to date.

How to update your IR Certificate Records

  • Please note that we have recently updated the process for updating your IR Certificate records. Please read these instructions carefully.

1. Download an IR Certificate Student Record Sheet here: PDF.

2. Fill out the form with your personal information and new course information/completed Certificate requirements.

3. Name your file in the following fashion: Lastname_Firstname_MiddleInitial_Classyear.doc or .pdf (ex. Minuteman_Sam_A_2013.pdf)

4. Upload your filled-in file here. You will be prompted for log in information. Please enter your NetID and password. MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT UPLOADING A BLANK FORM!

5. Save a copy of the file in your personal records. We strongly recomend you consider using the UDrive in case your computer crashes!

6. When you complete a new requirement for the Certificate, you should edit your copy of the Student Record Sheet (so that you do not have to re-enter all your previous information!) and upload it to the dropbox. If you cannot locate your existing copy of the IR Certficate Student Record Sheet, please contact an advisor.




MJ Peterson
Thompson 326
Office Hours

Make an appointment




1. Can courses used for my major be used for the Certificate?
Yes! This is a major reason the IR Certificate should be considered when choosing a Global Ed Option; you are already doing half of the work! As many as four classes within your major or within another department count towards the Certificate.

2. Can Gen Ed courses be used for the Certificate?
Certainly. This is another benefit of the certificate! Completion of Gen Eds can also lead to the completion of the certificate. Just remember: you cannot take more than four classes within the same department. For a list of classes that count towards the certificate please refer back to the course guide.

3. If the same course appears on the website under two requirements, can I use it for both?
NO. The completion of the certificate requires seven different courses PLUS the language courses needed to attain the intermediate level competence required.

4. Can the Certificate be used for the Global Ed Requirement?
Of course! The IR Certificate is a great way for any SBS major to fulfill his/her Global Ed Requirement. Go to the SBS advising office on the first floor of Thompson and let them know you want to pursue Option 4, certificate program.

5. What grade do I need to get for the courses to count for the Certificate?
 You must earn at least a B in each course for the course to count towards the IR Certificate.

6. How many courses are required?
There are a total of seven requirement areas, one of which requires two courses, and one of which requires intermediate level mastery of a foreign language (four semesters or two years of college level language). Starting from scratch, the maximum number of courses a student would have to take is eleven, but students who prove proficiency in a language may need fewer to complete the certificate.

7. In what department do I take courses?
There are a wide variety of departments in which you can take courses. Some requirements specify particular departmental courses while others give you more choices. Either way, you can take no more than 4 in the same department.

8. Can I take courses at the other 4 colleges?
Definitely! The Certificate is a Five College program and students are encouraged to take advantage of the Five College Interchange.

9. How do I know if I have fulfilled the language requirement?
To satisfy the language requirement for the Certificate you must either take courses that bring you to an intermediate level in a contemporary foreign language or take an approved test that proves your proficiency at that level. This means you must prove proficiency equivalent to four semesters (or two years) of a college level language.  If you are fluent in another language or you have taken at least four years of a language in high school, you may take the UMass language placement test or proficiency test in that language. If the test indicates that you have the knowledge equivalent to having passed the fourth semester course in a language (usually numbered 240 or 246) then you have fulfilled the requirement. If the test comes back saying something less (e.g., equivalent to 230 which is the 3rd semester), then you must take the courses needed to reach the fourth semester proficiency.  (NOTE:  classic or ancient languages such as Latin are not approved for the IR Certificate.)


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