MA in International Relations & Master of Business Administration (IR/MBA)

The Master of Arts in International Relations & Master of Business Administration (IR/MBA) dual-degree program meets the needs of students seeking careers in administrative management (corporate or nonprofit), consulting, international banking, or finance. Students learn all the essential skills of business management through coursework in the Graduate School of Management (GSM) and couple that with an understanding of international politics, economics, and security issues learned through coursework in the Pardee School. GSM strongly prefers candidates to have several years of work experience prior to applying for the MBA program. Students typically receive both degrees in two and a half years.

The IR MA & Master of Business Administration is a joint offering of the Pardee School of Global Studies and the Graduate School of Management.


The MA in International Relations & Master of Business Administration requires a total of 80 credits divided among IR core (12 credits), IR electives (20 credits), GSM core (34 credits plus several 0 credit workshops), GSM electives (6 credits), and free electives (8 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 (20 credits)

Students choose five elective courses (20 credits), selected from the graduate-level course offerings of the Pardee School. Students may also select their IR electives from any of the courses included in the listings for any of the IR core areas. Courses not included in these lists may be petitioned to count toward the student’s degree.

Additionally, up to 8 credits of IR electives may be fulfilled with courses from the following limited list of GSM electives (3 credits each).

  • GSM FE 827 International Financial Management
  • GSM IM 836 Competing in High-Growth Economies
  • GSM IM 859 International Strategic Alliance
  • GSM MK 853 Global Strategic Marketing
  • GSM PL 834 Macroeconomics in the Global Environment
  • GSM PL 864 Managing Political, Economic, Social & Technology & Country Risk
  • GSM PL 870 Government, Society, and Sustainable Development
  • GSM SI 856 International Entrepreneurship
  • GSM SI 870 Strategies for Sustainable Development

Students are encouraged to develop an informal regional or functional concentration with three to four of 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.

MBA Core (34 credits)

Students fulfill the MBA core curriculum as defined by GSM. This curriculum consists of 34 credits plus several non-credit courses. Part-time students complete a slightly different MBA core, worth 40 credits.

GSM Electives (6 credits)

Students select 6 credits worth of coursework from the elective offerings of GSM.  Students undertaking the program through GSM’s part-time MBA program do not take GSM electives.

Free Electives (8 credits)

Students take sufficient elective coursework to bring their total credit count for the program up to at least 80 credits, typically 8 credits.  Any courses that can be used to fulfill either IR or GSM elective coursework can be used as free electives.

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 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.

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