A photo of the Munk School on a snowy day.

Major Decisions: My Experiences Studying International Relations

A photo of the Munk School on a snowy day.
It's a snowy day at the Munk School of Global Affairs!
Second semester is a bit like a roller coaster. It starts off deceptively serene before the chaos begins. With midterms, essays, and summer job applications, stress is the collective feeling this February! These tensions heighten for first-year students who in addition to coursework, must also think about Program of Study (POS) applications. While some types of subject POSts let you enroll at the click of a button, others require an application process. I am a double major in International Relations (IR); and Peace, Conflict, and Justice (PCJ). Both programs are Type 3 Subject POSts, meaning they have specific course and grade requirements, a finite number of spaces, and require additional information such as an essay or interview. Last year, I bombarded upper-years in these programs with questions, and this year my first-year friends are doing the same to me. In this post, I’ll answer a few questions that I hear most often about IR. Of course, these answers only reflect my personal experiences as an IR student! “Do you like studying IR?” I love IR! Since enrolling in the program, I haven’t looked back! One reason for this is that I asked spent last year asking an overzealous number of questions to anyone willing to answer. Surprises aren’t my thing, especially when it comes to big decisions! Luckily, the IR program didn’t give me any. I came in hoping to learn about the history of international issues, theories in IR, and their application to current events. Much to my enjoyment, this was the focus of my courses this year. The only caution I have about IR is that I wouldn’t recommend it if math makes you recoil in horror! The economics element of IR isn’t code for memorizing facts about the World Bank. While I've found this aspect of the degree challenging, it's not insurmountable! “How hard is it to get in?” No one can give you an exact answer to this question. No Redditor or administrator holds a secret percentage. But this shouldn't matter. Instead, the most important question to ask is “Is this program right for me?” Last year, the idea of having to apply worried me. I feared that the questions would be like a foreign service exam. But the application won't give you questions you can't answer. The IR department knows that we’re undergraduate students, not diplomats (yet). For those considering IR as a major, don't be afraid to consult the program coordinator to ask questions! The frequently asked questions page on the IR website provides contact information. U of T’s IR Society is also a great resource. It offers mentorship, events, and the chance to talk to current IR students!

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