MA in International Relations & Religion (IRRN)

The following program listing applies to students admitted before September 1, 2017. 

The MA program in International Relations and Religion (IRRN) offers students a unique interdisciplinary program in which to explore the intersection of these two fields. 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 to contemporary international affairs.

Core coursework ensures that students gain general foundational knowledge of IR theory and methodological training. Students also choose an IR track, either theoretical or geographic, and a religious tradition track. Through track coursework, students gain specialized knowledge about specific areas of interest, which then culminates in an MA capstone paper.

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

The MA in International Relations & Religion requires a total of 16 courses (64 credits) divided among core (20 credits), IR track (16 credits), Religious Tradition track (16 credits) and electives (12 credits).

Actual year to year course offerings vary depending on faculty availability.  Most classes are taught once per year, but some may be taught less frequently.

Core Coursework (20 credits)

Students take four core classes (16 credits) that provide breadth of knowledge in the critical issues and research techniques of international affairs and religion 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
  • CAS IR 561/RN 561 Religion and International Relations
  • GRS RN 795 Humanities Approaches to Religion or RN 796 Social Science Approaches to Religion
  • CAS AN 563/IR 563 Public Religion and Politics across Cultures
  • GRS IR 799 Master’s Paper Workshop
IR Track (16 Credits)

Students choose a functional or regional track (four courses, 16 credits):

IR Functional Tracks

IR Regional Tracks

Religious Tradition Track (16 Credits)

Students select a Religious Tradition track (four courses, 16 credits) from among the six options listed below. Courses for the Religious Tradition track must be non-overlapping with courses used for the IR track. At least one course in the must be chosen from the offerings of the Department of Religion or the School of Theology.

Electives (12 Courses)

Students select three elective courses (12 credits) from the graduate-level course offerings of the Pardee School, from the courses on either the IR or Religious Tradition track listings, or from the list of approved IRRN elective courses. Courses not included in these lists may be petitioned to count toward the student’s degree.

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 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.

The Boston Theological Institute is a consortium of ten Boston area Theology schools that enables students to register for classes in the Theology division of any member school. BU’s participation in the BTI opens a wide range of classes to students in the IRRN program.  IRRN students may fulfill elective or track coursework through the BTI; BTI courses are petitioned on a case-by-case basis.