MA in International Relations & Religion

The innovative MA in International Relations & Religion (IRRN) prepares students to pursue careers in policy analysis and conflict resolution as well as to work with national governments and a wide range of IGOs and NGOs. The program emphasizes both the intellectual and policy aspects of the role of religion in international relations. Students develop a practical understanding of major religious actors, in-depth knowledge of a specific religious tradition, and a theoretical grasp of the relevance of religious ideas and actors for contemporary international affairs. The program includes core coursework that covers the fundamentals of IR theory, methodological training in approaches to the study of religion and IR, and the role(s) of religion in modern politics. In addition to the core classes, students choose both an IR and a religious tradition track, allowing them to develop in-depth knowledge in their chosen specialties, and write a capstone MA paper.

Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in international relations, political science, theology, or religion; related disciplines such as history, sociology, anthropology, and economics also provide useful background. Students and public policy professionals working in the areas of conflict resolution, peace-building, peace studies, and mass media are also encouraged to apply.

The IR & Religion MA is a joint offering of the Pardee School of Global Studies and the Department of Religion, in cooperation with the Institute on Culture, Religion & World Affairs.

Course Requirements

The MA in International Relations & Religion 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 (24 credits)

  • GRS IR 701: Fundamentals of International Relations
  • CAS IR/RN 561: The Multiple Modernities of Religion and International Relations
  • GRS RN 795: Humanities Approaches to Religion or RN 796: Social Science Approaches to Religion
  • CAS AN/IR 563: Public Religion and Politics Across Cultures
  • GRS IR 799: Master’s Paper Workshop (year-long seminar, 2 credits each term)

Track Requirements (32 credits)

Students choose an international relations track (four courses, 16 credits) and a religious tradition track (four courses, 16 credits). Courses for the two tracks must be non-overlapping. At least one course in the religious tradition track must be chosen from the offerings of the Department of Religion or the School of Theology.

IR Tracks

Full track course listings can be found online.

  • Theory and Policy
  • Political Economy
  • Security Studies
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East & Africa
  • Muslim World

Religious Tradition Tracks

Full track course listings can be found online.

  • Buddhism
  • Chinese Religions
  • Christianity
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Judaism

Language Requirement

All students pursuing the an MA in International Relations & Religion are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a foreign language relevant to the program of study 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 Pardee School (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.

Refer to the Pardee School’s General Guidelines for the MA Paper for detailed information on the MA Paper and the Oral Defense thereof.