Dual JD/MA in International Relations

The Master of Arts in International Relations & Juris Doctor (IRJD) dual degree program prepares students for careers in national governments or international agencies, international negotiation, and human rights organizations. Students complete the JD through coursework in the School of Law (LAW), where they devote four of their electives to classes in international and/or comparative law. IR coursework complements students’ law skills by enabling them to develop regional or thematic expertise. If they choose, students can also demonstrate expertise in a region by earning a graduate certificate through one of the Pardee School’s regional centers and programs.

The IR MA & JD is a joint offering of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies and the School of Law.


Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in international relations, political science, or a related discipline such as history or economics. Applicants whose undergraduate coursework has been in fields not closely related to international relations will also be considered if they can demonstrate commitment to and knowledge of international affairs through their career or extracurricular experiences.

Applicants to the IRJD program should apply to both the Pardee School and the School of Law.

Course Requirements

The MA in International Relations & Juris Doctor requires a total of 93 credits. The JD requires 85 credits and the MA requires 24; however, a portion of the credits count toward both degrees, leading to a total of 93. In addition to the course requirements listed below, remaining credits should be fulfilled through approved elective courses.

Students in the program typically receive both degrees in three-and-a-half years. The first year is devoted entirely to the JD; the second and third years are divided between the two degrees; the final term consists of finishing the MA program.

Core Course Requirements

Listings of courses that satisfy each of the IR core areas can be found online.

  • During the first year of the program, dual degree candidates take the prescribed first-year School of Law JD curriculum.
  • At least one course in three of the following four IR core areas of study:
    • Theory & Policy
    • Political Economy
    • Security Studies
    • Regional Studies
  • JD 927 Introduction to International Law
  • At least three more LAW classes (a minimum total of 9 credits) in the areas of international, foreign, and comparative law, consisting of at least one seminar and at least one course.
  • A sufficient number of LAW classes to satisfy the regular residency requirements of the law school. Students may receive credit toward the JD for graduate-level coursework at the Pardee School consistent with School of Law regulations governing non-law, graduate-level classes. Students must satisfy all other requirements for the JD that the School of Law sets.

Statistics Requirement

Students in the IRJD program are required to obtain training in statistical analysis. Any class taken to fulfill the statistics requirement must be taken for a letter grade (not Pass/Fail). The requirement can be fulfilled in a variety of ways:

  • Successful completion of a 2 credit (or more) college level course in statistics, which will not be applied toward the IR MA degree (with the exception of MA 614, noted below).
  • GRS IR 602 Quantitative Analysis for Global Affairs. This class will also count as an IR elective toward the MA degree.
  • CAS MA 614 Statistical Methods. This class will also count as an IR elective toward the MA degree.

Language Requirement

All students pursuing the dual JD/MA in International Relations 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 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.