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5 graduate programs to kickstart your international affairs career

If youíre interested in global issues relating to security, economy and business, development, or environmental policy, a masterís in International Relations may be just the thing for you.
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   14-07-2016

International Affairs or International Relations programs are typically two-year master’s degree programs that include a language requirement, some core courses, elective courses that depend on the specialization you choose, and an internship. Some programs also require students to undertake research.

Such programs aim to equip students with the knowledge and analytical and communications skills that policy experts need. The coursework is multidisciplinary, and classes are often taught by adjunct faculty who are professionals in government, think tanks, corporations, and nonprofits.

Core courses typically include analytical methods, international relations theory, microeconomics, and international economics. Specializations and dual-degree options allow students to focus on an area of expertise such as environmental law and policy. There may also be regional concentrations – for example, Latin America or the Middle East.

To consider your application, some schools may expect you to have prior professional work experience, or to demonstrate fluency in a language relevant to the degree you’re applying for. Generally, programs require applicants to submit GRE or GMAT scores. The level of financial assistance available (such as assistantships and scholarships) varies from one school to the next, and on the skills and qualifications you bring to the program.

Besides the usual stuff – specialization, financial aid, acceptance rates, and so on – some things to consider when applying are geographic location, diversity of the current students in the program, assistance in finding internships, and alumni network.

Dozens of universities offer master’s programs in international affairs, including the Ivy League schools. Here are five programs to get you started in your search. Good luck!

Above: American University quad (photo by Drew Saunders, used under CC BY 2.0 license)

American University. The School of International Service offers a Master of Science degree in development management, and a number of Master of Arts degrees including peace and conflict resolution, environment policy, Comparative and Regional Studies, international economics, global governance and security, sustainable development, intercultural and international communication, US foreign policy, and social enterprise. It offers many dual degree options. The school’s International Affairs Research Institute focuses on intelligence, terrorism, democratization, development, global governance, environment, international finance, and a number of geographic regions. The school’s location in Washington, DC is a big plus.

George Mason University. The School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs offers Master of Arts degrees in international commerce, international transportation operations and policy, and international security, and Master of Science degrees in biodefense, and peace operations. The school’s location in the Washington, DC area is an advantage. It has a number of research centers focusing on emerging markets, international security, economic and business policy, terrorism and transnational crime, science and technology policy, foreign relations, and other areas.

Above: Statue of Abraham Lincoln in front of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University (photo by Justin G, used under CC BY 2.0 license)

Syracuse University. The Maxwell School offers a Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR), a 16-month program. The school also has summer programs in Washington DC, Geneva, and Singapore, and academic ties with several universities in other countries. It also offers joint degrees in international relations and law or public administration. The school has several research institutes that focus on environmental policy, global affairs, policy research, conflict and collaboration, and counter-terrorism.

Tufts University. The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy offers a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD). Prior professional experience is an advantage. It is a large program, with more than 150 students. All MALD students go through a 10-week professional development program that seeks to help them manage their career. Students may opt for a dual degree offered in conjunction with several other programs at Tufts, and also with other schools including Harvard Law, Berkeley Law, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and institutes in Europe and China.

Above: Fletcher School flags (public domain photo by Nurcamp)

University of Texas at Austin. The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs offers a Master’s in Global Policy Studies (MGPS). The school has research centers that specialize in international security and law, human resources, philanthropy and community service, energy and environmental policy, and race and democracy.



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