International Research and Internship Semester (IRIS)


International Research and Internship Semester (IRIS)

After the extraordinary three-year journey around the world, LIU Global students complete their Global Studies degree in an equally extraordinary senior year. The year is composed of two parts:

  1. The International Research and Internship Semester (IRIS) in the fall.
  2. The Capstone Semester in New York City in the spring.

Through independent research carried out over these two semesters, culminating in the senior thesis, students develop expertise on a global issue of their choice. Then through two internships, one international and one in New York City, students prepare for the next steps in their careers.   

After executing a proposal developed in the spring semester of their Junior year, students carry out their IRIS program at one of the LIU Global IRIS sites. IRIS includes (a) the first stage of their senior thesis research, (b) a professional internship, and (c) a self-designed “special studies” program developed in consultation with advisors. This self-designed program is the opportunity for students to deepen their academic and professional engagement with one of the pressing global challenges of our times.

Students can develop their independent programs for LIU Global Centers in Costa Rica, Australia, China, or Spain. Students are also able to propose IRIS programs with one of LIU Global’s partner organizations. (Past non-LIU Global sites have included Bali, Germany, Trinidad & Tobago, Thailand, and Morocco.)

Junior Seminar

(IRIS Proposal)


Spring Capstone

Senior Thesis I

International Internship

Global Studies Capstone Seminar

Senior Thesis II

New York City Internship

LIU Global or LIU Brooklyn electives

LIU Global or LIU Brooklyn electives

Academic Overview

In the fall semester of the senior year, students enroll in International Research and Internship Semester (IRIS), a program that facilitates the development of students’ expertise on one of the pressing global challenges of our times. The IRIS experience forms the basis of the senior thesis that will be completed in the Capstone Semester.    

The Junior Seminar and the IRIS Proposal. Students develop their programs for IRIS during their third year in LIU Global. In the Junior Seminar, students identify a global challenge or issue that they wish to investigate in depth. They develop a bibliography that acquaints them with the scale and scope of the challenge, and then investigate the responses to this challenge that are being developed around the world. These responses may include policy, activist, or entrepreneurial solutions carried out in government, business, NGO, or community settings. Students then select a specific location from among the LIU Global IRIS sites where they are able to engage with the issue directly. They develop a research proposal that allows them to investigate both the issue’s local manifestation as well as the local responses to it. They also identify and secure an internship from one of LIU Global’s partner organizations whose activities are relevant to the students’ research. Students then execute their IRIS proposal in the fall semester of their fourth year.  

The IRIS Curriculum. The IRIS curriculum includes two required courses. Senior Thesis I assists students to refine and execute their research design, keeping them on track with methodology, documentation, and deadlines. This is an online course delivered to all IRIS students around the world by the Senior Thesis Coordinator. The Internship in Global Issues course assists students to prepare for, execute, and analyze their internship experience. This course includes an evaluation of the internship site’s impact on the student’s chosen issue or global challenge,, as well as the student’s self-reflection on his or her role as an organizational player. Overseen by the IRIS advisor, the course is also the context for regular, scheduled mentoring throughout the semester.    

In addition to the two required courses, students identify opportunities that help them deepen their expertise. A set of Special Topics courses provides the framework for students to develop their expertise through their work with local experts, universities, or institutes (if relevant, these opportunities may include language study). This self-designed learning plan is part of the IRIS proposal, which is developed and approved during the Junior Seminar. The student’s IRIS advisor oversees and evaluates the execution of the individualized learning plan.

Senior Thesis I
International Internship
Classical Theories and Contemporary Issues in International Relations 
Studies in World Languages
Special Topics in Global Studies, International Relations, Arts & Communications, or Entrepreneurship
LIU Brooklyn course