Watson Institute at Brown University
International and Public Affairs

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When will International and Public Affairs courses be available? When can students declare the new concentration?
  • Will any of the courses I’ve already taken as part of IR/DS/PLCY count towards the new International and Public Affairs concentration? Can I switch to the new program?
  • Will the International and Public Affairs concentration allow me the opportunity to pursue language study?
  • Will the International and Public Affairs concentration permit me to focus my studies on a particular country or region, including the United States? 
  • As an IR/DS/PLCY concentrator, can I take courses in the new concentration?
  • Can I still file a concentration in IR, DS, or PLCY?
  • Can I still graduate with an IR, DS, or PLCY concentration?
  • Will research funds be available for students in the International and Public Affairs concentration?
  • How can I fit my plan to study abroad (or in the Brown in Washington program) into the new concentration?

When will International and Public Affairs courses be available? When can students declare the new concentration?
Students can declare the new concentration beginning in September 2019.

Required courses for the new concentration -- including gateway courses, track foundational courses, methodology courses, etc. -- are available in Banner as of Fall 2019. 

Juniors and Seniors in Fall 2019 will not likely have enough time remaining at Brown to complete the new requirements for International and Public Affairs, and so should consider remaining with the Development Studies, International Relations, or Public Policy concentrations.

Students in the class of 2022 and 2023 are strongly encouraged to select the new International and Public Affairs concentration and begin their path through the new curriculum.

Will any of the courses I’ve already taken as part of IR/DS/PLCY count towards the new International and Public Affairs concentration? Can I switch to the new program?
Yes, a number of courses associated with IR/DS/PLCY will count toward the International and Public Affairs concentration, and advisors are prepared to walk you through the transition. This question is most relevant to current First Years and Sophomores who may have already taken (or planned to take) required courses for IR/DS/PLCY, but would now like to concentrate in International and Public Affairs.

Will the International and Public Affairs concentration allow me the opportunity to pursue language study?
Absolutely. Language study, though not required, is strongly encouraged and rewarded in the International and Public Affairs concentration. Students may substitute one of the concentration’s two required research methods -- either the qualitative or quantitative research methods course -- by successfully completing a Brown or Brown-approved language course at the 0400 level or above. Students cannot pursue this option on the basis of language study undertaken or language proficiency achieved prior to arrival at Brown.

As part of our effort to encourage language study for Watson Institute concentrators, the Watson Institute will provide financial support for off-campus language learning, with priority given to immersive language programs, and with special consideration given to the study of languages not formally offered at Brown. This funding will be offered on a competitive basis, with one application period in the fall term and a second application period in the spring term.

Will the International and Public Affairs concentration permit me to focus my studies on a particular country or region, including the United States? 
Certainly. Particularly through the electives in the concentration’s tracks of specialization, students may focus their studies on a particular region or country. Alternatively, students may focus their studies on themes or issues that cut across geographies. One of the benefits of the International and Public Affairs concentration is the flexibility it offers students to pursue the topics of greatest interest and concern to them. 

As an IR/DS/PLCY concentrator, can I take courses in the new concentration?
Yes. Current IR/DS/PLCY concentrators are welcome to take courses offered as part of the International and Public Affairs concentration. Students should consult with an advisor about whether the course(s) will fulfill requirements in their current concentration.

Can I still file a concentration in IR, DS, or PLCY?
Yes. New concentrators graduating by 2023 can file a concentration in IR, DS, or PLCY until the filing deadline in spring 2021.

Can I still graduate with an IR, DS, or PLCY concentration?
Yes. If you have filed as an IR/DS/PLCY concentrator by the filing deadline in spring 2021, you will be permitted to graduate as an IR/DS/PLCY concentrator. 

Will research funds be available for students in the International and Public Affairs concentration?
Yes. Research funds, particularly for summer research surrounding senior theses and capstone projects, will be available for students in the International and Public Affairs concentration, just as funds have been available for students in the IR/DS/PLCY concentrations. 

How can I fit my plan to study abroad (or in the Brown in Washington program) into the new concentration?
Concentrators in International and Public Affairs absolutely may study abroad or in the Brown in Washington program. In general, two courses per semester -- for a total of four if the study outside Brown extends over a full year -- may be counted for International and Public Affairs credit. International and Public Affairs concentrators who are thinking about studying abroad or in the Brown in Washington program should meet with the International and Public Affairs concentration director or individual track directors as early as possible in the planning process. Study abroad or in the Brown in Washington program is for most students best suited for the junior year.