MA in International Affairs

Changes to this program will take effect in the 2018–2019 academic year.

The Master of Arts in International Affairs (MAIA) is a versatile two-year program that prepares students to pursue a wide range of careers in the field of international relations, including work for national governments and a wide range of IGOs and NGOs. The program includes core coursework that covers the fundamentals of international relations (IR) theory, research methods in IR, the workings of the global economy, and an overview of global security issues. In addition to the core classes, students choose two tracks, allowing them to develop in-depth knowledge in their chosen specialties, and write a capstone MA paper.

The curriculum ensures that graduates emerge with a comprehensive perspective on international issues and a clear understanding of the means by which these issues are researched, discussed, and acted upon. There is also a strong emphasis on developing students’ skills in writing policy-relevant documents. The final MA paper, which each student must orally defend before a panel of three faculty members, reflects that emphasis. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in international relations, political science, or a related discipline such as history or economics. This degree is well suited for students with a limited background in the field, such as recent college graduates.

Individuals with significant experience as international relations professionals may wish to consider our Mid-Career MA in International Relations program.

Course Requirements

The MA in International Affairs requires a total of 16 courses (64 credits). In addition to the course requirements listed below, remaining credits should be fulfilled through approved elective courses.

Core Course Requirements (20 credits)

  • GRS IR 701 Fundamentals of International Relations
  • GRS IR 702 Research Methods for International Relations Practitioners
  • GRS IR 703 International Security
  • GRS IR 704 Global Economic and Development Policy
  • GRS IR 799 Master’s Paper Workshop (year-long seminar, 2 credits each term)

Track Requirements (28 credits)

Students choose a primary track (four courses, 16 credits) and a secondary track (three courses, 12 credits) from the list below. Courses for the two tracks must be non-overlapping. At least one of the tracks must be a functional track. Full track course listings can be found online.

  • Theory and Policy (functional track)
  • Political Economy (functional track)
  • Security Studies (functional track)
  • Asia (regional track)
  • Europe (regional track)
  • Latin America (regional track)
  • Middle East & Africa (regional track)
  • Muslim World (regional track)

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 successful completion of a non-credit graduate-level foreign language reading course offered by Boston University. 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. 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 professors, chosen by the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies (one of the three professors will be the student’s advisor). 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.