BA in International Relations/MA in International Affairs

The BA in International Relations/MA in International Affairs is intended for exceptional students who wish to develop deeper knowledge of international affairs as well as professionally relevant skills in the practice of international affairs than are available at the BA level. Insofar as graduates will be awarded the same degree as our professional MA students, it requires equivalent achievement and coverage, even as it allows students to complete the MAIA in less time than it would normally take to complete a professional MA in international affairs.

The BA/MAIA program requires 56 credits of graduate-level coursework in addition to experience studying abroad, foreign language proficiency, and the completion of a capstone research or policy paper that is defended orally before a panel of three faculty members. It prepares graduates for a wide variety of careers in the field of international affairs, including work for national governments, IGOs, and NGOs, as well as doctoral or other graduate work in social science disciplines, law, and other professions. By integrating the BA and MAIA curricula and eliminating duplication between them, the dual BA/MA program allows students with careful planning to complete both degrees in 10 semesters. To do so, students may apply AP or IB credits, take Summer Term classes, or take additional courses during the academic year as overloads. Students may also, with approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, take an extra semester to complete the program.

For information on application requirements and deadlines, please see the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences’ BA/MA and BA/MS Program Application website. Applicants must have completed four International Relations courses, in addition to the prerequisites CAS EC 101 and 102, and including at least one regional or functional track course, by the time of application. Students should have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.50 and major GPA of 3.60 (excluding CAS EC 101 and CAS EC 102). Complete application information is available from Pardee School undergraduate academic advisors located on the first floor at 156 Bay State Road.


The BA/MA program requires a total of 176 credits. The BA/MA program of study must be approved by the undergraduate academic advisor, and any subsequent changes must be approved by both the undergraduate and graduate academic advisors. Students are required to study abroad at a minimum for one semester or one summer program. Students are also required to fulfill a 5-year (10 academic semesters) residency requirement, excluding summer coursework. Transfer students will fulfill a 3-to-4-year residency requirement, depending on the number of credits they have transferred to Boston University. All students select two tracks for their BA program. The choice of MAIA specialization does not need to clearly correspond to the BA functional track.

BA Requirements

Students must complete all the requirements of the BA in International Relations with the additional requirement that two of the eight BA track courses must be at the 500 level or above, with grades of B– or higher.

MA Course Requirements

In addition to the BA requirements, 48 credits of graduate coursework must be completed with a grade of B– or higher.

  • GRS IR 601 Fundamentals of International Relations
  • GRS IR 602 Quantitative Analysis for Global Affairs [Students who have completed CAS MA 116, CAS MA 214, CAS EC 305, and/or QST SM 222 do not need to take IR 602. Instead, they may choose any graduate-level elective.]
  • GRS IR 604 Negotiation and Diplomacy
  • GRS IR 799 MAIA Paper Workshop (Directed Study)
  • Completion of an MAIA specialization including two courses at the 700 level or above. Specializations currently include: Diplomacy; Global Economic Affairs; Security Studies; Religion & International Affairs; and International Communication.
  • Sufficient elective credits at the 500 level or above to reach 48 total credits.

MA Language Requirement

All students pursuing an MA in International Affairs are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Language proficiency can be demonstrated either through a language examination or by successful completion of a fifth-semester foreign language course offered by Boston University (or a transfer course that has been equated to the fifth semester of a foreign language). In the case of non-native English speakers who were required to submit a TOEFL score report as part of their application for admission, knowledge of English fulfills this requirement.

Master’s Paper

Students write a Master’s Paper (commonly referred to as an MA Paper) as the capstone component of their degree, in the context of a Directed Study with a faculty advisor. The paper may take one of two forms: either a traditional research paper or a policy paper. Students are given broad latitude in selecting topics and approaches, in consultation with their advisors.

All MA Papers must be defended orally in front of a panel of three faculty members chosen by the Director of Graduate Studies of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies (with the student’s paper advisor serving as one of the three). The purpose of the oral examination is to test the student’s knowledge in the area of research related to the MA Paper as well as the student’s ability to discuss that knowledge at length in a clear and compelling manner.