Track Electives

While students enjoy great latitude in the selection of their five electives, we encourage them to focus on a particular country, region, or issue area (e.g., education, humanitarianism, nuclear proliferation, economic development). We encourage students to work with their academic advisors to choose a “cluster” of electives that will allow them to build knowledge that can be applied to junior seminars and especially to senior capstone experiences. We believe that doing so will lead to the most meaningful experience in IAPA.

View sample clusters

View electives

Elective Policies

  • Typically, track electives are taught by social scientists (people who teach in Brown social science departments or have PhDs in the social sciences) and are at the 1000 level. First-year and sophomore seminars do not count as IAPA electives.

  • However, we also count courses in the humanities or sciences, and a few introductory courses, that are directly related to our core research areas (development, policy/governance, and security). Examples include certain courses in Environmental Studies, Computer Science (Cybersecurity), and Public Health. 

  • All Watson MPA and GPD courses can count as electives by sending a request to the Faculty Director.

  • Students are welcome to count empirical courses (for example, advanced econometrics) as electives by sending a request to the Faculty Director.

  • If a course was approved as an elective when a student started at Brown, it will still count! 

  • Gateway and Foundational courses cannot be taken as electives.

  • When submitting the initial IAPA declaration, students can list ONLY electives from the pre-approved list. Students are able to petition for courses not on the list AFTER the declaration has been approved.

Petition Process

Students can petition a course that is not on the electives list by filling out a form explaining why the course is valuable for their track and for their theme/focus area in the track. If they are petitioning a new introductory course, they should explain why an upper-level elective cannot substitute for it.