MA in International Affairs (MAIA)

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 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 capstone MA paper, which each student must orally defend before a panel of three faculty members, reflects that emphasis.

Individuals with seven years or more of experience as international relations professionals may wish to consider our Mid-Career MA in International Relations program.


The MA in International Affairs requires a total of 16 courses (64 credits) divided among core (20 credits), track (28 credits), and electives (16 credits).

Core (20 credits)

Students take four core classes (16 credits) that provide breadth of knowledge in the critical issues and research techniques of international affairs plus a year-long (2 credits each term) workshop that guides them in writing their capstone MA Papers.

  • 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

Tracks (28 credits)

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

Functional Tracks

Regional Tracks

Electives (16 credits)

Students select four elective courses (16 credits) from the graduate-level course offerings of the Pardee School. Students may also select their electives from any of the courses included in the listings for any of the functional or regional tracks. Courses not included in these lists may be petitioned to count toward the student’s degree.

Foreign Language

Students are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Graduate-level proficiency is the ability to understand newspaper and professional journal articles in the field of foreign relations accurately, using standard reference materials. Language proficiency can be demonstrated either through a language examination or successful completion of one of the non-credit graduate-level foreign language reading courses 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.

Research Project

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.

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