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M.A. in International Relations

The M.A. in International Relations program provides education those whose primary interest is a professional career in foreign relations in either the public or private sector. The program does not offer narrow, specialized training in policy making; it is rather designed to broaden students’ intellectual horizons by introducing them to a variety of conceptual perspectives on international relations and to a variety of substantive international issues. Coursework includes International Relations Theory, International Security, International Political Economy, International Organization, and Foreign Policy Analysis.

I.R. students may pursue a joint degree program with the Levin College of Law, which would allow students to earn both the Master of Arts and the Juris Doctor degree in approximately four years.

The M.A. in International Relations is a 36-hour program of study with both thesis and non-thesis options available. The guidelines for the M.A.-I.R. degree are as follows:

For both thesis and non-thesis options:

6-credit Political Science core sequence:

  • POS 6736 (Conduct of Inquiry for M.A. students)
  • STA 6126 (Statistical Methods in Social Research), or equivalent

15 credits of International Relations graduate courses as follows:

  • INR 6607 (International Relations Theory)
  • At least two (2) of the following survey seminars:
      • INR 6039 (International Political Economy)
      • INR 6337 (Survey of International Security)
      • INR 6305 (Politics of American Foreign Policy Making)
      • INR 6507 (International Organization)
  • The remaining two courses may be any 6000-level INR course, or any POS 6000-level course with an explicit focus on international relations.

For thesis option:

9 credits of Departmental or extra-Departmental electives.

  • 6 thesis credits (POS 6971)
  • Oral defense of M.A. thesis

For non-thesis option:

  • 15 credits of Departmental or extra-Departmental electives

Comprehensive Examination

Supervisory Committees

The Supervisory Committee acts as the student’s principal academic advisor and also conducts the Thesis defense and takes part in the I.R. comprehensive examination. Students should nominate three faculty to serve on their supervisory committees no later than the beginning of their second semester. M.A.-I.R. students are normally expected to nominate at least two members of the I.R. Faculty; the third member may be from the I.R. Faculty or from another appropriate field within Political Science. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that their course selection is acceptable to their committee.

M.A. Theses

Students wishing to complete an M.A. thesis will count (6) thesis hours as elective credit. Thesis students should select a Supervisory Committee as early in their careers as possible and clear a thesis topic with that Committee early in the Fall of their second year. Theses must be completed according to the guidelines laid out by the Graduate School and be defended in an oral examination in the presence of their Supervisory Committee members. Students selecting the thesis-option are not required to sit for the comprehensive examination.

Comprehensive Examination

M.A. students should sit for the comprehensive examination during their final semester. Fall M.A. exams will normally be administered in November, with Spring exams taking place in April.