MA in International Relations & Juris Doctor (IRJD)

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. Pardee School coursework in international relations complements students’ law skills by enabling them to develop regional or thematic expertise.

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.

The IR MA & Juris Doctor is a joint offering of the Pardee School of Global Studies and the School of Law.

The MA in International Relations & Juris Doctor requires a total of 93 credits.  The JD requires 84 credits and the MA requires 24; however, a portion of the credits count toward both degrees, leading to a total of 92.  The credits are divided among Pardee School IR core (12 credits), Pardee School electives (12 credits), International Law classes (12 credits), and required and elective JD coursework at the School of Law (all remaining credits).

Most Law School classes are worth 3 credits, whereas most Pardee School classes are worth 4 credits.

IR Core (12 credits)

The IR Core ensures that students gain exposure to a range of important facets of international affairs. Students complete at least one course in three of the four core areas of study outlined below.

IR Electives (12 credits)

Students choose three elective courses (12 credits), selected from the graduate-level course offerings of the Pardee School. Students may also select their Pardee School electives from any of the courses included in the listings for any of the Pardee School IR core areas. Courses not included in these lists may be petitioned to count toward the student’s degree.

Students are encouraged to develop an informal regional or functional concentration with their electives. Doing so is not a requirement of the degree and a concentration will not appear on university transcripts, but choosing a concentration does help to give greater focus and definition to a student’s program of study.

Law School JD Curriculum

During the first year of the program, dual-degree candidates take the prescribed School of Law first-year JD curriculum.

Over the course of the second and third years, students complete a sufficient number of LAW classes to satisfy the regular residency requirements of the law school. Students may receive credit toward the JD for up to 12 law credits for graduate-level coursework at the Pardee School. Students must satisfy all other requirements for the JD that the School of Law sets.

 Law School JD International Law Courses (12 credits)

As part of their second and third year JD curriculum, students complete:

  • 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.*

*The Law School divides their classes after the first year into ‘seminars’ and ‘courses’, so ‘course’ in this context has a specific meaning.

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.


Students are required to obtain training in statistical analysis. This requirement can be fulfilled in a variety of ways:

  • A two 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). This course may be taken either prior to matriculation at BU or while studying at BU.
  • GRS IR 702 Research Methods for IR Practitioners, or GRS MA 614 Statistical Methods.  These two classes will also count as electives toward the MA degree.

All statistics classes must be taken for a letter grade (A-F), and any class taken at BU will be reflected in the student’s grade point average. Online and correspondence classes are not accepted.

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 adviser). 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.