The requirements below apply to those students with a 2023-2024 catalog year. Students are required by college policy to follow the major (and minor) requirements found in the catalog in effect at the time they declared their first major. To find your catalog year, please visit your Grades and Academic Records found in myOxy and access the catalog that matches your catalog year.

Diplomacy and World Affairs


Diplomacy and World Affairs (DWA) is Occidental College's nationally recognized International Relations major. This innovative department grounds students in international relations theory, security and human security, international organizations, economic development, and case studies regarding state-building, nationalism, religion, identity, and ethnic conflict. Recognizing the variety of academic connections that can inform the study of global politics, offerings in the Economics, History, Politics, Religious Studies, and Urban and Environmental Policy departments can be used by students to supplement the DWA major's core offerings.

The Chevalier Program in DWA was established in 1957 by the late Mrs. Stuart Chevalier to honor the memory of her husband, a distinguished lawyer and pioneer leader on behalf of the United Nations, who for 19 years served as a member of Occidental's Board of Trustees. The program is one of the few undergraduate interdisciplinary majors in international relations offered at a Liberal Arts institution such as Occidental.

Occidental-at-the-United Nations

DWA students are strongly encouraged to participate in study and research programs abroad and on Occidental's United Nations (UN) program in New York. Students interested in this rich array of opportunities should work with an advisor to plan their curriculum to include language and other prerequisite courses as early as possible.


Opportunities of interest to DWA graduates include service with U.S. government agencies, such as the Department of State and the Foreign Service, the Peace Corps, the Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Defense, and the Central Intelligence Agency, as well as careers with the United Nations or one of its affiliated agencies, and in the non-governmental organization (NGO) community. Students also have an opportunity to prepare themselves for work in the general fields of international business and banking, law, journalism, or the academic world.



The DWA major completes six core courses (24 units), a language requirement, and at least 16 more credits in international relations, three of which must be DWA courses. 

Core Courses (24 units, 6 courses)

DWA 101International Relations: The Changing Rules of the Game

4 units

DWA 102International Organizations

4 units

DWA 103Introduction to Global Political Economy

4 units

ECON 101Principles of Economics I

4 units

One DWA course at the 300-level

4 units

DWA 490Senior Seminar

4 units

Additional Electives

Sixteen credits in international relations classes numbered 200 or higher.  At least 12 of these credits must be in in Diplomacy and World Affairs at the College. Department credit can be given for up to one course in international relations from a different Occidental academic department, the United Nations Program, or from study abroad; off-campus courses must be approved by the department chair prior to departure.  

Language Proficiency

Students must complete the equivalent of four college semesters of one language (101, 102, 201 and 202), or two college semesters each of two languages (i.e. 101 and 102). Parts or all of the language requirement may be waived for international students or advanced speakers in any language other than English, pending language testing. Students seeking to test out of the language requirement must contact Luz Forero, Oxy Language Education Specialist, to arrange for testing. It is recommended that students arrange testing by the Spring of their Junior year to avoid delaying graduation.

Honors in the Major

Qualified majors may achieve Honors by maintaining an overall grade point average of 3.25, with a 3.5 GPA in the major (inclusive of courses from all departments taken at Occidental that count toward fulfilling DWA major requirements; study abroad, language, and Oxy-at-the-U.N. courses do not count toward the major GPA); and through completion of the comprehensive requirement with a grade of Pass with Distinction. Those interested should consult the department chair for details, preferably in the junior year.

Second-Stage Writing

Students majoring in Diplomacy and World Affairs will satisfy the Second-Stage Writing Proficiency requirement by taking one 300-level DWA junior seminar. These junior seminars will focus on preparing students for their Senior Comprehensive Project (DWA 490) and will include substantial writing assignments, including a literature review. In order to fulfill the Second-Stage writing requirement, students need to achieve an end-of-semester grade of C+ in the designated 300-level seminar. If a student does not pass the requirement the first time, they will be required to take and pass with a C+ an additional 300-level course. The department recommends that students complete this requirement by the end of their junior year; exceptions to this recommendation must be approved by the department chair.

Comprehensive Requirement

Seniors will complete DWA 490 as their comprehensive requirement in the spring of their senior year. There are two options within DWA 490:

  • Thesis: a 30-50-page thesis based on independent academic research.
  • Film/Documentary: Production of a documentary film that advances knowledge in the IR field. To undertake the documentary option, it is recommended that you complete MAC 242 or take a filmmaking course through the Art Center at Night Program.

Details on these options will be given to students during the spring of their junior year. Students must submit a proposal for the option they hope to pursue during the fall semester of their senior year for approval by the department.

Contact Diplomacy & World Affairs
Johnson Hall 210

The McKinnon Center for Global Affairs